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Monday, April 30, 2012

Costing Carnival in Jamaica

This post was inspired by a conversation I had with some people last week about how some girls finance their carnival experience (which we will not go into), but what we concluded is that carnival can cost A LOT. I had suggested that for women, costs can run into JA$100,000 (US$1149) which is nuff money...It then seems fair when some critics conclude that Carnival is geared to the uptown crowd.

So I decided to list all the expenses for all the major carnival events which include:

Mas Camp fridays (including drinks and food)- US$150
French Lyme Wednesdays- US$45
Island mas soca village- US$45
Soca vs Dancehall- US$22
Beach Jouvert- US$45
1 night at hotel after Beach Jouvert-US$60
Boat to Soca at the Sandbar-US$5
Food and drinks at Soca at the Sandbar-US$25
Sundown Cooler fete- US$17
I Love Soca- US$28
Blocko (including drinks and food)-US$50
Bacchanal Jouvert (including drinks and food)-US$50
Breakfast party- US$28
Bazodee- US$80
Lock it Down- US$28
Outfits for fetes- US$180
Costume (with Frenchmen)- U$267
Tights- US$11
Carnival Bag- US$12
Hair and Makeup- US$100
Total= US$1293 (JA$112,491)

Of course this breakdown is extreme since there are very few people who attended all the events. It did not take into consideration travel expenses, food after the fetes, fitness regimes and diet plans. Some people may have spent more on their hair and outfits while some opted to do the makeup themselves. The costing also did not consider upgrades to costumes which could have cost up to US$300... On the other hand, some persons did not spend as much on the costume, opting for tshirts or a cheaper section. Even if you did not spend JA$112,491, I'm sure you spent a lot but was it worth it?

Friday, April 20, 2012

Bacchanal Carnival 2012- Thunder storm and I'm soaking wet!

It all started when I collected my Supernova costume on the Thursday before Carnival. I got to mas camp one hour ahead of the scheduled time for collection, which was a really good idea since I was fifth in the line. However, it did not turn out to be such an advantage since it took me over 45 minutes to collect. It was not even noon yet and the service was at snail's pace. This probably would not have been a problem if Bacchanal had abandoned the "family and friends" first policy. As I stood there waiting, numerous persons bypassed the line with several receipts in hand and were given costumes before me. After finally getting my costume, I noted that the bra was bigger than I had ordered and did not even match any of the stated equivalent sizes. But I had already made up my mind to take whatever was in the box and make it work...

On the road, the costumes looked almost like the prototypes. It was clear that several ladies were having bra problems, which were either too big or too small, with mine fitting too big. I really hope that next year Bacchanal can provide sample sizes during registration, which would help us to choose the right one. The waistbands were also a problem with them shredding many tights to bits...

It was a relief to see more people opting for Frontline upgrades by Lehwego or Darrel Bulze. I even had my own customized corset and collar (from Carnival Divaz) which looked Fab btw...I also observed an increase in the number of persons wearing their own costumes- some from Trinidad Carnival and some designed by Explosion mas band. I heard that some people had their own designed by Solange Shaw-Gopaul from Tribe, which looked okay, not great. But the bigger point here is that people want more than Bacchanal's recycled offerings...

As usual, I joined the band late, and people were having a blast. Even when the rains came, it didn't kill the vibes. I was happy that I opted for airbrush makeup from Paul March; ultimately, it was worth the long wait that morning because it held up fine...I stayed with the Pure Country truck with Private Ryan and Alicia the Duchess, which played the best tunes and it got even better as we approached Waterloo Rd and went down West Kings House rd. I have to mention that we had to literally run after the trucks as they apparently forgot that there were masqueraders who came to dance and enjoy themselves and not take part in a sprint...

The food can best be described as the same as every year, but I was happy for the jerk chicken and pasta option since the chinese was very bland. The drinks on the other hand, were flowing and easy to access. I will stress here the importance of walking with your own cup especially when the sponsor of your section did not provide any...

In addition to the poor security and a looonngggg route, the biggest fail for Bacchanal had to be that mess to get back into the stadium at the end of the day. As I stood in the thick crown waiting to get in, two men tried to pick the pockets of a masquerader that stood in front of me. At this point there was little or no security and order to help us get safely into the venue; it was all push and shove. Once I was in the clear, I was on my way home so I'm not sure what the after party was like...

Overall, this was a fun year. Like every year, there's bitching and moaning about the costumes and their prices, but everyone ends up putting these complaints away and enjoying themselves, which is really what carnival is about. But as I will say every year, Bacchanal needs to step up. They have been in this business too long to not get it right. More and more people are taking part in this carnival and I was even more surprised to hear that so many people flew in to take part so there's even more reason to make the event more contemporary...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Bazodee 2012- Mud and Soca

After it had rained for the entire day on Saturday, I was almost sure that I wouldn't be going to Bazodee. But after spending JA$6500 on my ticket, I had to ensure that I was there- rain or shine.

By 9:30, the crowd was small which made parking and the shuttle ride easy. I was really glad I decided to break in my boots that night because it was mud and more mud in the food and bathroom areas. Luckily the main dance area was covered where most people had congregated.

The food area was set up in the thick of the mud so it was really difficult to maneuvre the booths. Obviously, I went to the Trini booth first to get my doubles fix. My other faves were the barbeque pigtail and beef sirloin. Everything else was bland or just tasted bad. The dessert station was blah with an assortment of donuts. I mean who cares for donuts at an all inclusive fete? I want mini cheesecakes, fruit plates, chocolate covered strawberries, red velvet cupcakes etc. But kudos to the Haagen dazs crew for a real dessert station.

Once the Johnnie was flowing, I was fine and boy did it flow! It was very easy to get drinks which is always a plus at a fete.

The restrooms were always clean despite the mud. They also provided, lotion, mints and gum in the female restroom.

The music was really good with a wide variety of tunes coming from Private Ryan, Alicia the Duchess and Smoke. But even with the drinks and good music, there was something lacking. I'm not sure what it was, but the vibes were not has high as last year, or it could have been the rain, or that the fete was a replica of years past. Probably Frenchmen needs to change up the formula because I've attended this fete too many times and it's become boring for me, but whatever it is, I will be there next year...

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Tips for Jamaica Carnival

As we prepare for the road tomorrow, keep a few tips in mind:

Get some a good night's sleep. You will be on the road for a long time and it doesn't help to start the day tired.

Use gel insoles in your boots or sneakers. Toe protectors can also be used to cushion the pressure on your big toenails.

Cut toenails

Shave/ wax!!! especially if you are not wearing tights

Use lots of sunblock

Use milk of magnesia under your foundation to reduce oiliness

Use a fix it spray to set your makeup

Leave valuables at home. Keep the sunglasses, jewelry and smartphones generic. If you must have your phone, carry a ziplock bag, to protect it from rain or any water. The bag can also be used for your camera.

Have a good breakfast at home

Get to the Stadium early enough for a parking spot. If you are running late, keep in contact with someone in the band so you will know where to meet them.

Go easy with the alcohol. There's no need to go hard too fast. It is important to drink as much water as you do alcohol; hydration is key.

Carry your a mug or cup; preferably one with a lid

Blot! don't wipe when you sweat

Always be aware of your surroundings and the people in said surroundings. Yes, you will feel to wine on anything but not eveything deserves to be wined on. And while wining on strangers, be aware of the location of your phone and camera. The band has security but they cannot keep track of everyone. Your safety should be a piority.

Ensure you get a meal at the lunch stop and use the opportunity to get a brief rest and use the restroom. But don't rest too long; you won't want to leave. The ladies should also use the opportunity to touch up their makeup.

I would also caution masqueraders about the Half Way Tree part of the route. It tends to get a bit rough as stormers try to get in the band.

Always have epsom salts foot bath once you get home to ease the pain and any swelling especially if you have to go to work the next day.

Enjoy! and stay cute :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

I Love Soca...Yes, we do...

More and more I am convinced that the Island Mas crew will be responsible for taking carnival in Jamaica to the next level. Unlike the Bacchanal organizers, Island Mas is set on improving their offerings and making the fete scene as contemporary as possible. Although I Love Soca was a small event, it exceeded my expectations.
The Palms was well suited for the small crowd and the open air feature made it even more fitting for a carnival fete. The bathrooms were sufficient, kept clean for the entire night, and toilet paper was never lacking.

The most impressive aspect of the fete was the drinks! I mean the drinks were flowing...it was Johnnie, Johnnie and more Johnnie, and the 3 bars helped with getting drinks easily and quickly.

The music was for the most part on point with Smoke and Dei Musicale (from Trinidad) playing the best sets. DJ Sanjay played all the usual out of date tunes, which would not have been my choice, but in Jamaica, these selections are absolutely necessary...I know I am biased but I really agree with bringing DJs from T&T. For one, it makes some of these wannabe soca DJs look like amateurs and if they have any sense, they would try to learn something and move away from the standard 10 songs from the last 10 years...

Overall it was just a cool night with good friends, good music, a vibesy crowd and nuff drinks. I am really looking forward to what Island Mas has to offer next...

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

French Lyme 2012

It's pretty clear that Mas Camp Fridays is facing some serious competition with alternatives such as Island Village and French Lyme. French Lyme was held on the last 3 Wednesdays at Barbican Beach with no cover charge (yay!). Although I only went to 2 sessions, I really enjoyed myself. It was also obvious that there seems to be no problem among the patrons with feteing on a Wednesday night.

On the first night, I was not impressed with the initial DJ (not sure who he was), who obvioulsy loves Bunji Garlin's Irregular, but the music picked up once Smoke took over with lots of new tunes. Another shortcoming was that the service at the bar needed to be more effecient. I also felt that the one toilet was insufficient. But I can't complain too much since the vibes were plenty and I can't ignore that there was no cover charge.

I hope French lyme makes a return next year, and if it does, I'm sure it will attract a much bigger crowd...

Again, the unofficial tdd photographer fire the wuk so I had to borrow a pic from SKKAN Media's page on fb

Monday, April 9, 2012

Miss Beach Jouvert? Yuh Mad?

I can safely say that Beach Jouvert made a decent recovery this year and I can safely say that this is the best one I've been to since 2009...Why? Because that was the last time Machel Montano had performed...

Since I was late (as usual), I was worried that we would not get a good parking spot and would have to park on the main road. To my surprise, there was a large space that was cleared to accommodate parking. This was a great idea that eased parking woes. In addition, a shuttle was provided to carry us from the parking lot to the venue. Thank you Bacchanal for making such a breakthrough!

I got into the venue about 5:30pm and the paint distribution was in full swing. I then made my way to the bar which was also an easier task than previous years. I've also learnt to bring my own cup to fetes since I can't deal with these itty bitty disposal cups and the constant trips to the bar, so yes, I will walk with my own 16oz cup...

Wow, and was there vibes...vibes that cyar done! People just need soca, alcohol and paint and they let loose, leaving all their Kingston stress behind. And the outfits were on point (well for the most part)...the dress could best be described as skimpy-sexy...

The music was okay, but I'm concerned about Bacchanal's approval of Bambino as a soca DJ. Please, I beg you, do not hire this man again. I am sure that he's pretty good at regular parties and dancehall sessions but for fetes, no. The man just chat, chat, and chat some more. He could not let a song play without opening his trap. I wished that the mic would just stop working, but then again he's so caught up in himself that he would probably just continue chatting...

Now the high point was Machel's performance which lasted a little over 2 hours. It was tune after tune, after tune, and he didn't even start to sing tunes yet. And even the great Machel can sing other artistes' songs. His voice was clear, he had a great selection of songs, the band was consistent, Patrice was blah, the dancers were ok, Nappy was his usual self, and the crowd enjoyed every moment of it. My only complaint was that he stopped too many times to allow the crowd to sing the lyrics to some of the songs...But if you didn't know the songs, I strongly suggest you get a copy of the Double M album.

Beach Jouvert has always been one of my favourite events in Jamaica, but this year, there was a clear improvement in the organization, which should be expected with the increase in price. It is also important for them to note that a big headline act is important so it was a really good idea to keep Messtra, oops, I mean Destra for Jouvert this Friday...

I don't have any of my own pics since the unofficial photographer didn't want to carry his bashy camera so I borrowed from TriniJungleJuice's Teaser pics...

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Double M for Beach Jouvert!

I think that it is fitting to have Machel and his band perform at Beach Jouvert as we need to recover from that Mess that was Beach Jouvert last year. In addition, the last time I had a ball at BJ was a couple years ago when Machel performed...it shaat!

So we expect nothing less than perfection from Mr HD,especially coming off his triple win in T&T. I will say it again and again, Machel Montano is soca. There is no other artiste that has taken the genre to the level that he has...so get ready to PYF!

Also, remember your essentials for beach jouvert:

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Sundown Cooler fete

I heard about this fete pretty late but you know a Trini can't hear about a cooler fete and don't get excited. So almost immediately the planning for the contents of the cooler began. Mind you, I don't have a cooler, nor did any of the planners. So we decided to take Swappi's advice and get a bucket (since we can't afford to buy a cooler). But this excitement didn't last for long as we got a cooler borrowed from a good friend.

The fete was advertised from 4pm-11pm, but we got there around 8pm. Let's just say it was quite easy to get a parking spot at that time. By 9:30/10:00, the crowd came in but the fete wasn't ram; just the way I like it. The Constant Spring golf club's poolside was a smart choice as it accommodated the crowd and the coolers well.

Shotmaster J from T&T played for the most of the night and the tunes kept coming. Please note DJs in Jamaica, this is how you play soca, not the same 5 tunes playing over and over....He played lots of 2012 tunes, (which the crowd knew btw) mixed with some older songs which was cool.

I really enjoyed this fete especially the music. The vibe was nice and the drinks were flowing, which is one of the benefits of carrying your own. The cooler concept has definitely found a place in Jamaica and I look forward to doing this fete again next year...

***the pic is from Bad Dawg's fb page