Tonight is the last Friday of July and many Houstonians are slipping into their shorts and miniskirts. He guys are tightening up their fades and arranging their dreads. Ladies are putting on that finishing touch of gloss and slipping on their sexiest sandal heels. They are all getting ready for Houston’s Number One Monthly Caribbean Fete. Are you ready for Soca Passion? Even if you are not familiar with what Soca music is you will hear it and your body will pick up the right groove. Mr. Soca Passion, Dane McAlpin, invites you to, “come out and experience it.” Trust me, you will not be disappointed.
It is a brilliant concept. The idea was conceived by McAlpin, a visual artist turned promoter, and his business partner Janelle Escayg who noticed a few years ago that “the opportunity was there.” His relationship with the proprietor of Club Riddims and entertainers led the duo to try the idea out at the popular Caribbean night club first. There were no other Soca events at the time and he says, “The niche needed to be filled.” Their passion for the music and culture, which basically explains the title of the event, was the driving force behind making this happen every last Friday of the month.
When the ability to book the venue each last Friday was not feasible Dane and Janelle took the party on the road, sort of. Soca Passion moved to Taylor’s of Houston and this was its home for almost two years. The ambiance was great but limitations at the venue forced them to make another move. They had grown the event as much as they could at the location and knew that supporters would better enjoy the party if it went on past two in the morning. Attendees of Soca Passion never want the party to end.
The team has since held Soca Passion at Preet Pavilion and now at Crystal Lounge on Bellaire. The fact that the party is never in one particular place for very long is not about being fickle or not having forethought, it’s about keeping it fresh. “I don’t want it to get stagnant or for people to follow a location. I want them to follow the event.” Since the move from Taylor’s it became evident that party goers were indeed loyal to Soca Passion, as he intended.
With the success of Soca Passion McAlpin has plans of growing the brand in other cities in Texas and throughout the United States. He is ready to put in the work. “I enjoy the work even when it is stressful.” Parts of the Soca Passion brand are its deejays, themes, and Soca Passion Models. This alone sets the event apart from the others. Soca Passion is more than just one party, it is a team, and on-going ever-changing event customers look forward to month after month.
Does he worry about his brand being copied? Not in the slightest. “It’s not easy. Consumers are picky and the market is tough.” The team’s willingness to listen to these consumers and give them a better experience each time is what will keep them leading the pack. This entrepreneur has also come to understand that competition is not a negative thing. “It keeps me on top of my game,” he says. It helps to continually provide great customer service.
McAlpin puts a great deal of energy into the brand with a focus on longevity. He considers every detail of each event. For example, when deciding on entertainment he carefully selects Soca Passion DJ’s knowing that “it takes time to get into a vibe.” So he limits the number of DJ’s to three in rotation for the evening.
Team Soca Passion DJ’s Marshall, Natural Touch, and Texas Outlaw have their own style but easily make smooth transitions between them. They each provide a different type of energy to the event, ensuring that the crowd is able to find enjoyment throughout the night.
McAlpin wears a few other hats during his busy day. He has provided security to Houston CaribFest and other events. Dane also serves as Director of the Houston Caribbean Business Council and encourages the Caribbean community to do business with one another, “stick together, spend money together, and grow together.” He was a part of the creation of Empress Promotions, the company of female promoter and model Kadene Smith. Being the father of two little ones also keeps him grounded.
While Soca Passion is a business it is most important that “people enjoy themselves. It’s not about the money.” Escayg and McAlpin showed this with an All Free Party to show appreciation to Soca Passion supporters. “Without them we wouldn’t be here,” Dane acknowledges.
When he’s not being Mr. Soca Passion Dane loves to travel, spend time with his growing family, and even cooks at home. Although I’m pretty insistent that I have no desire to try corn beef, he assures me that I would enjoy his corn beef and hash. I left that alone to find out more about him. McAlpin, I quickly learned, is a private man who believes his kingdom and vibes are held in his well-kept dreadlocks and shies away from curious hands who just want to touch. He considers his most important role is the provider and protector of his family and has great respect for those closest to him.
That respecting, providing, protecting nature carries over to his Soca Passion Team and guests of their events. If you don’t know like I know, get out tonight to Soca Passion Shorts and Mini’s – there’s still time to make it to a great fete! If you miss tonight, get your tickets now for next month’s event Soca Passion Boat Ride – Shades of Blue an all-inclusive fete on water in Seabrook, Texas.
Visit www.socapassiontx.com, and join in the chat, get details on events, subscribe to the Soca Passion newsletter, and check out the pictures. Then follow Soca Passion on Twitter, and find them on Facebook.