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Fiji Time: 8:53 AM on Wednesday 30 July

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I was born (half) ready....

Harold Koi
Sunday, February 03, 2013

They say, a man's heart is through his stomach - whatever that means.

Anyhow, now that the dust has settled, I'd like to tell you about my New Year's eve experience with friends from the hood in Raiwaqa, an explosive jam session at Suva's Trap Bar, the rush out of the club for barbeque, the route back home and breaking dawn to a cold bucket of water in front of my house.

Unlike past New Year's celebrations, I opted to get some extra cash gigging with a band we formed in Raiwaqa. That Monday night, we were scheduled to entertain members and guests at Suva's Defence Club, and then Traps Bar later on. I had excused myself from the family who were kicking off celebrations with some good food and grog.

I rushed home from work that Monday, got all geared up and shot out of the house with the band members. I felt prepared.

When my friend Bro Wani asked: 'H, you ready? I said: "I was born ready". It was not until we reached the Defence Club before 7pm, I realised I'd forgotton to eat dinner at least. That's like the most important meal second to breakfast, especially for someone with a very flexible eating schedule like me. 'Born half-ready' was probably the honest answer I should have given.

As the night wore on, I tried my best to fight the hungry pangs in my empty belly. It was maddening!

That night, band members Tuks and Bro Wani were on lead guitar, Etienne and I on rhythm guitars, Filipe on bass and Bill on drums. Talisa, Ilisoni, Etienne, Tuks and Bill were on vocals.

Defence club hosted New Year's food and drinks. Except for me. I couldn't go anywhere but entertain for four straight hours until the stroke of midnight. The food was strictly for members and guests. Increasing my anxiety was the busy barbecue stand next to the stage emanating that mouth-watering aroma of sizzling barbecue!

I was on stage playing when my eyes caught the attention of a little boy dancing in the corner. I smiled at him and he smiled back, and then he raised a juicy piece of barbecued lamb chop in his hand and teasingly waved it at me, before running outside laughing. He was mocking me! I screamed in my head in disbelief.

I'm sure the smarty pants had overheard me and Etienne's one-to-one conversation before our show outside, about how hungry we were.

Do you know what it's like performing on stage hungry as ever, while people enjoy delicious food right before your eyes? And to think that some of them did not even finish their food just to get back to the party hype!

I thought to myself : "This is it! Straight after this gig I'm running to grab me a quick-bite down the street. My mind was made up.

The Traps Bar gig

I put my electric guitar down, but bro Wani called out "OK guys, no wasting time, pack up and let's move, quickly!"

Carrying our heavy instruments, we muscled down on foot to Traps Bar. From Gordon Street, Carnarvon and onto Victoria Parade, we marched in single file carrying guitars, amplifiers, microphones and wires. Brushing shoulders through the jam-packed streets filled with people from all walks of life staring at us. There was traffic jam, police patrols, mini-skirts, tight shirts, someone passed out on the street corner, nightclub bouncers ushering patrons in or kicking rowdy drunkards out.

Boy! I passed more than four food stalls along the way but I just couldn't stop in all this crazy rush! And I wasn't the only hungry one in the band - each time we passed a food stall, all of us turned to check out the displays of food on sale.

Anyway Traps Bar was happening by the time we got there. We plugged our equipment wasting no time.

"What's the first song," someone called through the blaring DJ music holding the mood for partygoers of all sorts mopping the dance floor. "Shaggy!" shouted Filipe.

Coordinating with the Traps DJ who piped down his music with a hand single, Bill began with a drum roll, bass guitar and guitars followed. The crowd cheered us on.

After a few chord bars into the intro, Bill hadn't even started singing when I turned and realised his microphone had fallen off the stand. I applaud the marvellous job of Stage Tech crew for the superb boom-box sound system.

It was a really awesome crowd at Traps. There were boys and girls from the hood as well there to greet us. There were new dance moves from friends Vincent, Max and Bennie which I've only seen on MTV. I spotted Gus, Pix, Lagi and Dan doing their best with the gals on the dance floor too.

Traps was hyped and for a moment took away my hungry pangs. And well, there were scenarios before me which I am so embarrassed to even remember! I mean it's a nightclub, what else would you not expect?

Talisa sang her heart out, and outed the microphone to the crowd to sing along. All that anxiety from Defence club somehow disappeared. The hype even took guitarist Tuks over the moon when he popped out of the stage with some "choka" riffs on his electric guitar, just like rock stars do on stage.

The thrill was fulfilling. The gig was over and the strong urge for food returned. Beer, dancing and having a good time was the last thing on my mind. I dashed straight out to the nearest barbeque stall with Talisa and Tuks. The street was still full with a few scuffling and brawls here and there. I didn't bother to pay any attention. I just bought my serve - one chop, a little bit of salad, one egg. No sausage! Expensive at $6! New Year's eh? They rip their customers off.

I found a convenient space to sit and didn't stop chewing until there was nothing left to chew in the takeaway container. I made sure of that.

Going home

Exhaustion from playing and controlling an empty belly took its toll in the early hours of the morning. A few of us began our walk back from Victoria Parade up Gordon Street all the way back to the front of Defence Club trying to stop a cab. I bet all you night crawlers know this feeling.

Almost an hour later, a cab finally stopped and we were back home. Dawn loomed in the horizon and to greet me at my front door was a big basin of grog. I was surprised to see Vincent back to basics after a huge wash down and mopping the dance floor at Traps.

The rest of the gang sat outside sipping on a few cold beers except for Tuks who had gone MIA, shortly followed by Gus and Pix. They too had sat outside, but not for too long when a cold bucket of water came splashing from the roof top. Splash on Gus' head! Pix, still shocked, tried to escape but too late. Guess he used up all his energy on the dance floor. So it was a splashing happy New Year to all of us with a bucket of cold water!


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