Connect and chill Abuja review: reverse order

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The Abuja entertainment space is very unique, in fact, it is monotonously unique. The formula is simple – bring brands to have a trade fair, sell food and play loud music. Boom, event! This is what makes Connect and Chill special and a must attend if you want to break away from the Abuja event norm. Kudos to organiser, Kevin Koya.

Prior to Sunday when the event held, I had been following the Connect and Chill platform since they announced their brand ambassadors. The list impressed me and pushed my journalism buttons to check out the entire premise of the platform. From my observation, one thing about the brand stood out – Connect and Chill was providing a networking platform for Abuja creatives to connect, meet and well, chill.

With Kevin Koya at the fore; and Jon Ogah, Vugo, Ejike Manny, Queen Ohamara and Chef Taylor together, I knew that branding had come together to form a unique mix and my expectations soared. In my mind, this event is the IT factor that Abuja creatives have been waiting for.

Event day and I was stuck. Was this a chill (Abuja way) or the gala themed showcase it was advertised as? For a lifestyle journalist who is used to being disappointed at over hyped Abuja events, Connect and Chill had my vote of confidence. So much that I invited all my friends in town, add that to the fact that for all its promises, the event was FREE.

Arriving at the venue, I was thrilled by the orderliness of security personnel and the signing in detail until I saw the chairs. Sigh. So, we would sit?!

Mind you, I have no problem with sitting and it is a prerequisite for symposiums and conferences, but for a creatives chill? Not working for me. If I sit, how would I meet other people and have petty discussions with them while we size other and politely ask for our contacts? How would I even meet my future client or maybe, husband? The chances that these people will seat close to me or anyone at all are really slim. Still, I sat.

“Welcome to Connect and Chill 2018. Our sponsors are……..” a lovely but shaky voice ran through the walls. Omniscient master of ceremony, lovely move. I love. My eyes scanned the arrangements as I sat down. Long runway that piqued my fashion lenses. Nothing sweeter than models strutting a spacious runway.

After all the sponsors were reiterated over and over and over which I understand as events don’t pay for themselves, the fashion showcase started. This is where my own ‘wahala’ started. I saw only few designers but several tailors. One even showed us net in different colours on all his models. Like what?

But I loved the organisation of the models, the showcase and even the little speeches here and there. The programme of events was well thought out. I mean, you can’t blame an organiser for a designer’s lack of tact or dullness of the Abuja audience.

However, some things did not sit well with me or my army of friends who I ended up connecting with, although I came to connect and chill.

Like our headline says – reverse order. We came to chill and later connected after the event which ended reasonably early.

I, like many others, came with our portfolio ready off the top of our heads and wanted to network. Okay. I will just give my verdict.

Programme of event – 70%, as it turned into a beautiful fashion show, excluding all the other creatives almost throughout the event, which wasn’t up to promise.

Venue setup – 50%, wonderful setup but the seating arrangement defeated the connect USP. A cocktail setting that will enable people move around with the runway in the middle would have done wonders.

Ambassadors – 65%, we did not see them. We only heard Jon Ogah. Most people came because they love your ambassadors and they were AWOL.

Premise and sustainability – 99% the idea behind Connect and Chill is highly laudable and can be sustained. Little wonder, the astonishingly number of sponsors in such a short time.

At the end of the day, Kudos for a wonderful first edition and I hope that subsequent editions will encapsulate the premise more aptly.

Words by Anita Eboigbe

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