Virgin Holidays (0344 557 3859; virginholidays. co.uk) offers seven nights at The Club Resort, Barbados & Spa from £1,535pp. Includes Virgin Atlantic flights from London Gatwick, all-inclusive accommodation at the resort and spa, with transfers. Price is per person based on two adults travelling and sharing a Garden View room, departing on
May 7. Also bookable at the 110 Virgin Holidays outlets in Debenhams and House of Fraser stores. The Caribbean Choir Workshop is free of charge (25 places) available at The Club Resort on the following dates: May 7-11 and 14-18. Further dates are planned later this year and for September 2019 on Barbados and other Elite Island Resorts locations on Antigua and St Lucia.
For more about Mike King and his singing workshops, see mycoolking.com
qualified to call it a “gig” now – was, I think, a success although not an unqualified one: moving suddenly from the cool, dry air of the rehearsal room to a more ambient space proved a bit of a shock. It felt more comfortable in the throat, but we needed to take it up a gear to be heard.
Voices for Lupus showed up as promised (together with a Bajan senator who was a patron of the Hope Foundation Barbados, the charity behind the choir).
All the “visitors” – including our tourist friend Clement – got a couple of solo lines in a cleverly slowed-down, gospelly version of Bob Marley’s One Love.
In these and the ensemble parts, Mike took us beyond the karaoke thing where you can’t quite be yourself, just a sort of pale imitation of the original singer, and if you’re not careful you end up doing some sort of hideous Keith Lemon parody: we really do feel like we’re inside the songs singing out. The most enriching thing, somehow, is to sing alongside the resort staff – it’s a very intimate act to experience with a group of people we might otherwise have engaged with on a much more superficial or transactional level. There is, as predicted, an extra-intense hugathon after we finish – and even talk of a staff choir forming.
After the concert, Mike has a treat lined up for us. “I’m taking you to the Gap,” he announces. Visions of chinos, button-down chambray shirts and sensible summer print dresses dance before our eyes. It turns out he’s speaking of St Lawrence Gap on the other side of the capital Bridgetown, where the dance halls and music bars are. We watch a blistering set by the NG30+, “30” denoting a trio, “+” the fact that there are more than three – in fact, approximately seven – of them. They’re tremendously good: brass-led, wildly eclectic (everything from soca to hip-hop to disco, to John McLaughlin-type jazz, to a mariachitinged rendering of the Game of Thrones theme tune, gets thrown into the blender, then splurged back out, with wit, energy and Springsteenesque levels of commitment).
Mike, who clearly has the muso’s instinctive ability to track down the most happening band in any given location, is beaming like a Cheshire cat. We sit or stand by quietly, Banks beers in hand, sagely nodding, watching our fellow performers with a comradely eye.
A room at the Club Resort on the island of Barbados