eLDee came to town last week. I had somehow stumbled across the fact that he’d be in town a couple of months back, so had been looking forward to seeing him perform, even though I had no idea who he was at first. I had heard his name before, of course, but I didn’t know his music, or didn’t know he was the artist behind some of the songs that I did know of his. Anyway, I wanted to go because I have a new mandate of Getting Out More and I love to support Nigerian artists, especially the ones who make the effort to come to our (rather stuff and boring) city instead of sticking to the more exciting Toronto.
Well eLDee was great…for the 15 minutes, maximum that he performed.
By the time 1:30am (clubs here close by 2am) passed and we were still waiting for him to show up, and people started saying we had been 419ed, I was starting to think he wouldn’t show up at all. So I just glad that he came that I forgave him for totally cheating us.
To be fair, the evening wasn’t supposed to be all about eLDee, though he was the main attraction: there were suppposed to be two Nigerian DJs there. Dj Don X came, but the other didn’t show up. We were also supposed to have two surprise Nigerian artists performing and again we were let down (the act that did perform was good, though I don’t think they were Nigerian â€” someone correct me if I’m wrong). They had to deal with an audience that just wanted Eldee to show up already…not the most welcoming of audiences they’ve had I’m sure!
Add to that the fact the event was supposed to start at 9pm, we showed up at 10pm and were told that the place where the event was taking place was not ready, something about the fact that the floors were still being cleaned…an hour after the show should have started. I have no problem with them not starting the festivities until more people showed up but surely the room should be ready for people to enter and mingle and whatnot.
When we were finally allowed to enter the place almost an hour and a half after it was supposed to be ready, none of the guest DJs had arrived yet, so we listened to some other DJ who was playing some random music, and the organizers were still setting things up. One thing that was set up though was a paparazzi corner, where they had some professional photographers taking pictures of the attendees as they came in…it was pretty neat (we all know how Nigerians like to be photographed).
For me the most apalling part of the evening was when the woman taking our tickets came up to us and asked for two of our IDs. Clueless me, I thought she was asking because she hadn’t seen them when we gave her our tickets but no, she wanted us to give her our IDs so she could get her underage friends in! I found it so unprofessional, but maybe I’m just showing my age.
The music was okay but of the many many Nigerian songs out there, why did we hear some songs three and four times!? There are so many great artists out there that I expected to hear new music and awesome remixes of music I already knew. I was very disappointed by that.
Anyway, my friends and I had a talk about this event because this always happens: an event that sounds good on paper (and in the advertising leading up to the event) ends up getting a lackluster turnout or ends up being disorganized and turning people off from attending the next event. And then what happens is the organizers get disappointed by the turnout and the negative comments and decide not to bother throwing such an event in our city again. And then everyone just decides that no one in this city likes to party, that they should stick to having events in Toronto when it’s not true! If you’re going to throw an event, take the time to do a good followthrough: don’t just sell the tickets then forget about delivering what you’ve promised the attendees! I’ve seen it happen time and time again and it’s really sad.
It almost makes me want to go into event planning: either to see if I could do better (and I really think I could) or to see how hard it really is to make it happen.
Now, I don’t think it’s very helpful to criticize someone or something without offering ways they could make things better, so in my mind here are some ways that this event could have been improved (based, of course, on my limited knowledge of what actually led to the disorganization I sensed):
- They should have chosen a smaller venue. This venue was HUGE, which only served to emphasize how few attendees there were. Better to have a venue half the size, that makes people feel like there are a lot of them than to have a room where you can almost hear the echo. The location was beautiful but there was no feeling of “wow, everyone wants to or wanted to be here!” and I think that has a a large effect on the vibe of the event.
- They should have created a great mix cd of Nigerian artists (which they could have gotten from one of the DJs who would be spinning) and played that for the first hour, when people were arriving, to get them excited about the music that they’d be hearing, and to get them dancing. There was a lot of waiting around to hear good music.
- There should have been periodic announcements as to when the guests of honour were expected, to build interest and curb people spreading rumours that eLDeeb likely wouldn’t even show. That sort of got folks down.
- Those other opening acts they promised should have shown up!
With all the Nigerian talent we have in the city (I’m thinking of this makeup artist, or this graphic/web designer to name just two), maybe having the first part of the evening be some sort of networking event where Nigerians in the community who have a business or are offering services could have gone on stage and shared a two minute thing on what they do and how they can be reached would have been good (especially if the DJs and eLDee weren’t going to show up for so long). I for one would love to know more about where to buy ankara or find someone who does hair well or something. They could have totally had some great music playing in the background while each person had a two-minute slot to tell us what they do and how they can help us. It might not have been the time or place for it though. I don’t know, but I think people would have liked it!
Oya gist me: what are the best and worst Nigerian-organized events you’ve been to?