It surely took a few days for anyone who participated in the 2022 staging of Dream Weekend to recover from the intense four-day Emancipation weekend party series held in Negril.
With a star-studded line-up of performances for the seven events, dress codes, a great selection of DJs, and complimentary cocktails from the bar, Dream Weekend was an otherworldly affair.
Speaking with The Gleaner, Ameera Riley, who came from London to experience the magic of all the parties she had only heard stories about, says she has to make her way back to the island for the event again the next time it is held.
“The parties have been really good. The entertainment, the atmosphere has been so, so, so much fun. Everyone has been having a good time; everyone is enjoying themselves. [I] don’t feel like there is anything crazy or bad that has happened. It has just been good. I got to meet new people, and I am just having fun. I came here specifically for Dream Weekend, and it did not disappoint at all. I would definitely come back with all my friends next time,” she shared enthusiastically.
The series kicked off with the signature red and white themed party, Celebrity Playground, which set off literal fireworks in the Long Beach venue and created the perfect tone for the rest of the weekend. If the fashion statements made at this event were any indication of how attendees would dress for the other events, there was no doubt that style would be a significant high point going forward.
Daydreams, the all-white affair, followed suit as patrons showed up and showed out for the day party on the beach. The showers of rain that poured down, delaying the event’s start time, could not dampen the mood and vibe of those who decided to ignore the possibility of mud in the venue and come out for a good time.
When Ding Dong and the Ravers took to the stage, the barriers that separated general admission from VIP were trampled on as patrons made their way close to the stage to enjoy the show to the max. Ding Dong, in his usual high energy fashion, had patron dancing the night away.
Yush, which followed later Saturday night and Wet ‘n Wild on Sunday morning, owed patrons nothing as the energy at both events was unmatched. From an electrifying performance by Sizzla that had partygoers singing his tunes word-for-word to the intoxicating vibes at the Kool Runnings Water Park for the signature water party, it was miraculous that patrons were still able to turn out for World Vibes, which was held Sunday night.
Selector Banka was the highlight of the event as he wowed the audience with his humour and attention-grabbing selections from all eras of reggae and dancehall music. He had all hands in the air as he engaged the watchful audience in his fifteen-minute clash segment earning him massive ratings and resounding cheers from the crowd.
The series wrapped with the ultimate cooler party, Igloo, where patrons anticipated a performance by ‘dancehall rockstar’, Skeng, but in an unfortunate turn of events, the deejay was not well enough to perform at the show. Performers apologised for his absence, but it was undeniably a disappointment to many. The Dream Weekend management and production team also apologised to patrons for the absence of Skeng in a release citing a medical diagnosis of exhaustion as dehydration as the reason.
Among the seven parties hosted by Dream Weekend – Mawnin After, which featured a high-energy performance from Queen of the Dancehall Spice, was among the best for several partygoers.
Though there were a few issues with her tracks on stage, that pales in comparison to her ability to still deliver even with the hiccups. Joined by the King of the Dancehall, Beenie Man, the crowd surely received a kind of unfiltered entertainment that only Spice could provide. The two shared playful banter and gimmicks on stage until it was time for her to reel out her tracks So Mi Like It, Cool It Down, Ramping Shop, Needle Eye and more. She also performed her newest single, Clap Clap, and had a short wining contest that had the crowd beside themselves in excitement. Spice also brought out some of her friends Karlie Redd and Estelita Quintero from the reality TV show, Love and Hip Hop Atlanta, during her set. In true Spice fashion, she even managed to do an outfit change to get more comfortable showing off her moves.
Patrons were not the only ones who had a satisfactory experience over the Emancipation weekend. As thousands of individuals set up in Negril for the four days. Food establishments, hotels and villas, shops and other services saw increased traffic from the widely supported event. But the vendors who showed up day and night inside and in front of the venue were grateful for the sales made during the time.
Speaking with The Gleaner, long-time vendor Damarco Banhan said he has been selling jerk chicken at Dream Weekend since the start and is happy with the turnout this year.
“As [the events] going on, people making them way to come purchase from us. People still come and buy from us. They see how our place clean and set up, and they still respect and support us, and I am very pleased with that,” he said.
This year, increased regulations were placed on where persons could vend. Banhan said that while this affected them, he is not dwelling on that.
“First time we had more vending, but the space what we have now a nuh really much but I’m just happy we are back out now and can do our work,” he continued.
As the Dream team prepares for Dream Weekend in Malta this September, Dream Entertainment chairman Kamal Bankay says he is happy with the success of the 2022 staging of the event.
“Each staging is unique but uniquely great. We all had a great time in Negril and [we are] humbled and grateful at the feedback and support we have received. The entire event was a high for us since we were so happy to get back to work; delivering a world-class product for people to enjoy in the paradise we call home, Jamaica,” he told The Gleaner.
For issues arising out of the event, such as the weather and limited parking, Bankay says most are things they could not control, but they tried their best to alleviate the problems where possible.
“The rain shifted start times, changed venues and ruined outfits, but we did our best to execute an amazing [event]. [To help solve parking problems] we implement a shuttle bus system for the entire town of Negril. Persons can stay at their hotels, park safely and ride the shuttles to all events and back home. This is the best solution, and we’ve implemented this for many years now,” he shared.