So. It's time for the first event in the Orange Partner Camp, the orientation lecture in the Main Hut.
We enter to African drums battering through a big hut set up as a tent, with a jungle stage at the end..Hanging from the ceiling are parrots and, incongruously, chandeliers.
The drums stop and with a flourish, Steve Glagow, head of the Orange Partner Program, turns up in battle camouflage. "72 hour experience to hone your skills", he promises, "in our island experience."
"Take a look at your guide" – a set of cards we were given on registration, hung on what looks like a bootlace. The audience is in pitch darkness: we can't see a thing. "First thing you had to do is tie a knot, right?" We did indeed: the bootlace was untied. "To help you in the art of knot tying, we've brought Burt Kornegay along." A picture flashes up of a survival guy in beard and canoe. He wasn't there at registration.
Ah, then the lights go up. "In case of fire," Steve says, "the exits are at the back."
Knots? Fire? Parrots? Clearly, this is not your average developer conference.
"Now!", enthuses Steve. "Who's been to six or more Orange Partner Camps?" Four people turn up on stage and are handed sugar, limes, mint and rum. "Apart, these people have nothing," says Steve – "Not sure about that" interjects the woman holding the litre of rum – "together, we have a killer mojito"
At this point, and rightly,. he's poked off stage by spangly warrior maidens with big feathery sticks, to be replaced by a chap in black leather with spikey bits and a big black feather in his hat.
The reason for the fire exit briefing now becomes apparent. It's ten in the morning, and we're watching a cabaret. A number of lithe young men, also in spangly bits, are leaping in and out of boxes, tying each other up in handcuffs, playing with fire. Rarrrrrrgh! I'm being to wonder about what new revenue streams Orange are considering, what sort of social networks... The spangly women come back and dance around in even bigger feathery headdresses.
There's some funny business with a very large orange rug, and out pops Steve.
Oh, and there's also stuff about mobile multimedia, APIs and widgets (a-HA!), PC telephony, the digital home, Web 2.0... and Djinngo mobile, the new platform for widget distribution across different devices. The tenor of this announcement is somewhat modified by being given by an Orange exec dressed as Santa Claus, who's been throwing candy at the crowds.
There will be innovation contests, speed dating, where developers have a four minute pitch to Orange and its partners, and lots of fun sessions to get through. And parties. They seem keen on the parties. Good.
It will seem positively cloddish to bring up revenues, enterprise services, building robust and manageable systems in a secure environment and all that stuff, when there are dancing girls. And really, a bit more cabaret and a little less Powerpoint is a lesson for us all.... but hell, someone's gotta do it.