WHEN you mention December, most people envision wild nights filled with fun, laughter and endless partying.
It is a month that many see as one endless weekend, a period when party lovers do not have to feel any shame when they crawl back home in the wee hours of the morning, when the earliest of birds sing in their ears.
December is a time to be merry and when the month of November comes to an end, no doubt, many will dust off their dancing shoes and get ready to dance the stresses of a tough year away.
There are 31 days in December and logic dictates therefore that a full month of song and dance beckons for those that love having a good time.
In reality however, that is rarely the case. Few have the stamina to party their way through a whole month.
Those that think they do will be left nursing more than a few tired limbs when it dawns on January 1.
Also, few still have the financial muscle necessary to party their way through the whole of December.
Those that think they do will be nursing more than hangovers when the dreaded January disease makes its annual appearance at the start of the New Year.
So in reality when people talk of the partying of December, they mean the last 12 days or so which almost every year, pass like a whirlwind which blows past, taking with it people’s financial reserves and, in some cases, their morals.
Those days are what make December. Those are the days in which memories and regrettable decisions are made.
For music promoters, that sweet spot between December 20 and January 1 is when they should make hay.
For them, the sun will probably not shine brighter during any other period of the year.
This is the period that two events in particular have emerged over the last few years to become the highlight of the country’s entertainment calendar.
The Kalawa Homecoming gig held in Bulawayo and the Victoria Falls Carnival have emerged as the crown jewels of the country’s entertainment scene during the usually jam packed month of December.
There is no doubt that for both Victoria Falls and Bulawayo, these two events are game changers that have transformed their respective entertainment scenes despite the fact that revellers have to wait a whole year to sample the delights that they serve up.
As fantastic as both events are, they have their flaws and while their organisation has in most cases always been top-notch, their line-ups have sometimes left a lot to be desired.
Last year’s Kalawa invasion did not have the impact that previous editions had on the City of Kings.
The ground forces that Oskido sent for last year’s gig were simply not adequate, with many feeling that the line-up was not at par with what Kalawa had been bringing over the years.
After serving up an eat-all-you-can buffet with the 2016 line-up, last year’s roster left many licking their fingers as they hungered for more.
Many had grown accustomed to the fact that money is seemingly not an object for Kalawa and when last year’s list was released, it felt as if Kalawa had gone for the cheapest talent that they could find.
The excellence of yesteryears was just missing. Should that continue again this year, revellers will be well within their rights to question whether the crown jewel of the Bulawayo’s entertainment scene has lost its shine.
The names that Oskido’s famous Homecoming have released so far suggest that they have heard the whispers of discontent and are ready to act before they become a chorus.
Mlindo the Vocalist has been the breakout star of the year south of the Limpopo and music lovers north of the famous river have also fallen in love with his voice.
Simply put, the young Durban vocalist is everywhere.
Chill-out spots get revellers to their feet with his music and retail shops ease customers’ anxiety in the hustle and bustle of queues by blasting his smooth vocals through their shop speakers.
It would have been a big miscalculation to omit him from the list of those that will make the pilgrimage to Bulawayo at the end of the year.
The second name on the list, Emtee, is a similarly loved artiste in the City of Kings and the fact that he has never graced the city is an added bonus.
If he turns up sober, he is likely to give many a night to remember. It would be a shame if the rest of the line-up does not match those first two names.
Names like Sjava and perhaps Dladla Mshunqisi will be on top of the wish list of many party lovers.
If Kalawa wants to reclaim the ground it lost last year, it needs to put up a roster that gives no chance to imitators.
For the Carnival, putting together a line-up is a lot more complicated.
Attracting a far more diverse crowd from various countries, the year ending fun-fest has a tough task if it is to please all those who attend.
The names that have been released so far suggest that the carnival will again stick to last years’ script, with a line-up dominated by heavyweight house music acts.
Lady Zamar, Prince Kaybee and Black Motion would not be out of place at a Kalawa concert, but instead of Bulawayo, they will be at the tip of Matabeleland, entertaining audiences that might not be all too familiar with all their hits.
The question of whether the organisers of the carnival find the balance that maintains their place as one of Africa’s premier festivals and whether the Kalawa Homecoming maintains its status as one of the premier gigs in Zimbabwe will only be answered when the adrenaline-filled days of December have run their course.