Massive Aruba

To the beat

In the south of the Caribbean, just north of Venezuela, sits the tiny island of Aruba (population: 110,000). Together with the nearby islands of Curaçao and Sint Maarten, it makes up the Dutch Caribbean, which falls within the jurisdiction of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. But despite its links to Europe, Aruba still has a distinct Caribbean culture and nowhere is this more evident than the town of San Nicolas. “It’s the most Caribbean part of the island,” says Clyde Burke, co-founder of radio station Massive Aruba, who explains that the community is the home of Aruba’s soul of calypso (or “soca”) music scene. The genre draws influences from African and East Indian beats and has been broadcast on the station since it was launched in 2017. Burke tells us more.

Aerial view of the beach Palm Beach on the island of Aruba. Place where most of the large hotels are located. (Photo by: VWPICS/Jimmy Villalta/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

How did the station start?
Aruba celebrates Caribbean music with one of the region’s biggest carnivals: Caiso & Soca Monarch. San Nicolas didn’t have its own radio station for a good 30 years and there wasn’t one dedicated to soca music. Unless you went to a party, the only time you would hear it was at a carnival – so we put in a permit.

What is your roster like?
Most radio stations here are in Spanish or Papiamento [a Portuguese and Spanish-based creole] but we thought it best to broadcast in English. We start off with gospel in the early hours and then some R&B until 08.00. After that, we’ll play soca, a news update will follow and then we’ll take a break. It picks up again in the afternoon, with the “Tropical Storm” segment from our top DJ.

Any big broadcast events coming up?
The last day that all the construction companies on the island will work until the new year will be 11 December. So, we are going to do a big bash with all the DJs on the island at Carnival Village, where Caiso & Soca Monarch is held.

A favourite broadcasting moment?
One memorable occasion was when we organised a Halloween street party and filled up the main street of San Nicolas with people. Many tour buses went by, so we gave them shoutouts.

© MONOCLE Weekend Edition November 27, 2021

This material remains © MONOCLE and is only to be used for non-commercial personal or research use. Any other use requires permission of the copyright holder.

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