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Thursday, February 28, 2013

Jamaica Carnival 2013 Schedule

Well Trinidad Carnival is officially over *tears*, so it's all about Jamaica.  The good thing about Carnival in Jamaica is that it takes up right where Trinidad left off and cures some of the Carnival tabanca.  It is useless to compare Carnival in Jamaica to Carnival in Trinidad simply but there is a vibe in the Jamaica Carnival that makes it enjoyable for Trinbagonians who live here.  For Jamaicans, a series of socio- cultural and class conflicts play itself out in the Carnival which cannot be ignored but I'll save that discussion for another day.

But the gap that Carnival here fills is noteable.  What I've noticed over the last few years is the emergence of events that are not hosted by Bacchanal Jamaica.  I've said it too many times- Bacchanal Jamaica needs to move with the times....too much of the same old.  In the costume department, I am very disappointed with the prices and the "holding" of costumes for friends and family. The day when another organization can gain top corporate sponsors and contemporary costumes, will be the last day of Bacchanal Jamaica's dominance of the street parade.

Anyway, back to the major events for the this season which will be updated as the information comes in:

Bacchanal Jamaica Mas Camp Fridays
Venue: Stadium North
Cost: General- JA$1500 (presold) and JA$2000 (at the gate)- with performances
          VIP- JA$3000 (presold) and JA$3500 (at the gate)
          General- JA$1200 (presold) and JA$1500 (at the gate)- No performances
          VIP-JA$2500 (presold) and JA$3000 (at the gate)

Island Mas Soca Village
February 23, March 2
Venue: Village Blues bar
Cost: JA$1200

Soca in the City
February 9 and every Saturday throughout the season
Venue: Pulse Compound, 38A Trafalgar Rd
Cost: No cover

DJ Smoke and Jojo's Carnival Central Lyme Sundays
Every Sunday from March 3 to March 24
Venue: Jojo's Jerk Pit on Waterloo Rd
Cost: JA$500

Bellamy's Leh Go Fridays
Every Friday starting March 8
Venue: Manhattan Bar
Cost: No cover

Soca Vs Dancehall
March 9
Venue: Devon House
Cost: JA$1900 (early bird) and JA$2500

Passion: The Real Soca Experience
March 9
Venue: Village Blues Bar
Cost: JA$800; Ladies are free before midnight

French Lyme
March 13 and every Wednesday during the carnival season
Venue: The White House- 7 Seymour Ave
Cost: JA$500

UWI Mona Carnival
March 16
Venue: Ring road, Mona campus
Cost: Varies according to band

Enamel Cooler Fete and Powdah
March 17
Venue: Mona Hockey Complex
Cost: JA$1000

Sundown Cooler fete
March 23
Venue Hope Gardens
Cost: JA$2000

Appleton Fantastic Friday
March 29
Venue: Ocho Rios
Cost: JA$1500 (women) JA$2000 (men)

Beach Jouvert
March 30
Venue: James Bond Beach
Cost: JA$4500 (presold) JA$5000 (at the gate)

April 1
Venue: Shenstone Drive, Beverly Hills
Cost: JA$1500+ bottle (presold only)

I Love Soca
April 3
Venue: Hope Botanical Gardens
Cost: JA$1500 (presold)

Frenchmen Blocko
April 4
Venue: Jacks Hill

April 5
Venue: Golf Academy
Cost: JA$4000

Bacchanal Jamaica Jouvert
April 5
Venue: Stadium North
Cost: JA$1700 (early bird special) JA$2000 (general )

SunRise Breakfast Party
April 6
Venue: Constant Spring Golf Club
Cost: JA$4500

Frenchmen Bazodee
April 6
Venue: Cherry Gardens
Cost TBA

Road March
April 7

Tailwind Frolic Wrap up Fete
April 13
Venue: TBA
Cost: JA$2500 (presold) JA$3000 (at the gate)

I will keep updating the information as quickly as I can, so keep checking.  I will also try to review each event I attend.  What are your top picks for the 2013 season?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

2013 Mas Essentials

Every year I assess my mas essentials to determine which items worked best.  Since this year I decided to simplify my preparations and just focus on the basics, it was a simple task.

For a band like K2K, makeup is extremely important even on Monday.  I stuck to who I was comfortable with and made my appointments with Makeda from Shades of Sugar.  I was very happy with her results on both days and it held up well..  This year, I also used the No Sweat but along with the milk of magnesia and Smashbox's anti shine.  I assumed that my pores just simply closed up because there was no shine at all...

Although I decided to cut back my spending overall, I wanted to purchase a pair of really comfortable boots.  Consequently, I purchased a Clarks boots for about US$100 on Amazon and they were worth it.  I usually wear a size 7 but I got a 7.5. To my relief, it fit really well even with the insoles and toe protectors.  Throughout the day I felt no discomfort and when I got home, although my toes were a little swollen, I had no serious foot pain.  The pain free day could also be atrributed to a short time actually moving on the road and a lot more time just standing and waiting near the savannah. On Monday, I opted to wear a Clarks sandals that didn't give me the toe constriction and were extremely comfortable for the road and made it easier for Tuesday.  I didn't decorate these boots simply because I love them too much and I want to wear them again...

Okay, just ignore the other stuff and focus on the boots :)

I wanted to try something different this year and go with fishnet stockings...well that was me and everybody else.  I got a pair at Micles for TT$99.  They fit well and I liked that they were thick and therefore didn't rip easily.  The thing about K2K costumes is that you don't have to worry about any beads snagging your stockings so I can wear these again...

I know that nails are not a priority but with K2K, these details matter and it's just nice to have pretty nails.  Thanks to Solange from Sole Nails, I did a mix of gel polish and minx which held up for 2 weeks.  You should definitely check her out...

"preppy" Minx and black gel polish

Reuse and Recycle
I used a cross body bag that I already owned which matched fine and held all of my necessities.  The same went for my earrings.  I wear my hair in a ponytail everyday, so I just stuck to that; no fuss...which was the order of Carnival 2013...

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Carnival Tuesday with K2K

As I said in the previous post, K2K definitely delivered for 2013. Their presentation, The Human Race was well executed, and there was a clear improvement in their management.  It was a brillant idea for them to begin on the Avenue, move to downtown, then to Picadilly greens (yes, we went to the Greens), and end at the QPS. Although our wait at the savannah was almost 3 hours, it was not as bad as some of the big bands. The blame here should solely rest on the NCC and NCBA.  Band congestion is a longstanding problem which has been getting worse. There's an entire year to plan for Carnival and you would swear they only began the week before. Lots of money was spent on retreats, consultants, breakfast meetings, staff, big salaries, consultations with stakeholders, and engineers and NOBODY came up with a solution? It is clear that all bands cannot cross the QPS stage on both days- let's start there....My solution is simply to let some bands cross on Monday and some on Tuesday...

Another issue on Tuesday was the internal overlapping of K2K's music which was extremely annoying.  Again, we only needed 1 music truck for a couple hundred people. Overall, I give big kudos to the Normans (and Peter) for going at it another year and ignoring naysayers like myself.  If you were looking for a band to get on bad and party the whole day, K2K was not that band, but if you were serious about parading a fabulous costume, yes, K2K is that band.  I had a great time and I loved that only one other masquerader and I wore the same costume.  What about next year? I hope so because I know it's going to keep getting better. I am especially considering doing a bigger costume in 2014 or the following year; it's about time right...

Since this goody bag is so important, I'm going to begin there.  I know I've been sounding "older" these days but I don't get what's the big deal with the goody bag. Poison never gave me any goody bag and all Legends ever gave me was the costume. Seriously, how many of these goodies do you actually use? Anyways, the goody bag was nice- cher mere samples, degree deodorant, sacha gift voucher, k2k mug, messenger bag, 2 local magazines, and a mini picnic set .  Good heavens! there was no soldanza plantain chips or digicel rags...dammit I want a refund. Oh and just for clarification- no one actually brought the picnic set on the road....

The costume for Skeptic was really nice but I thought it would have stood out more. Looking back at my pics, I looked a little like I was wearing a pink big bird outfit. In retrospect, I should have chosen something more slimming.  Yet, it held up really well even though some persons complained that the corset's zipper broke.  Luckily there was the option to lace it up. Unlike the Monday blazer, I was not hot in the the Tuesday costume.  Earlier that morning, I found the top hat and shoulder piece to be uncomfortable so I ditched them.  To my dismay, I was probably the only person in the section without these pieces, but bless the masqueraders who figured out how to attach that shoulder piece.  The one thing about K2K maqueraders is that they are very serious about their costumes.   Honestly, K2k's strength will always be their costume design and quality.  And yes, we were one of those bands wearing burkas on the stage. I want a refund for so much cloth....

Another improvement this year was the security. The band was pretty small so keeping masqueraders within the ropes was not too challenging.  But what I'm most uspset about is the lack of personal bodyguards.  I mean I paid over tt$5000 and no personal security?  I want a refund...

Like Monday, the drinks were not an issue.  The hubby who drank Hennessy was pleased that he was able to get it throughout the day.  This is in no way directed to any specific band, but the coconut water was flowing like it came from the skies...The disappointment was in the lack of an actual coconut vendor chopping nuts and scooping jelly...Please address this K2K...

We got the same chinese lunch on Tuesday from Wok and Roll and Church's chicken in the later afternoon.  However, we should be upset over the lack of snacks.  Every blasted band got soldanza plantain chips, and we got nada.  How can we play mas with only breakfast, lunch and a second lunch?  You are lucky some of us didn't pass out from starvation.  You need to do better. In fact next year we need a truck solely dedicated to snacks...

K2K chose not to have a rest stop. I mean how dare they torture us by having us on the road playing mas for the entire day with only a rest bus and a mobile spa.  How dare they didn't provide blankets for us to lounge.  Where were the makeup stations K2k? Shame on you. And why did our foot and shoulder massages in the mobile spa only last for 15 minutes? No facials? No body scrubs? We need answers or a refund...

The cher mere mobile spa

Okay, I guess by now you can sense my sarcasm.  I admit I was one of those masqueraders who obsessed over every little mas detail (just read my earlier posts), but is that what playing mas is really about? I don't get this paying for "an experience".  Besides an artistic costume, drinks, music, and good road management, what else do we want?  I think some masqueraders are getting carried away and missing the spirit of Carnival- what about that complete feeling of abandonment for those 2 days? The feeling that nothing else matters- just dancing, wining, and chipping to one of the best music in the world; there's no concern about work, school, bills, family issues or any other personal problems...Mas is also a performance- an embodiment of a character on the streets which becomes our stage while making powerful statements.  The legendary Peter Minshall put it best when he said that it's not about the literal costumes but creating ways to express human energy...

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Carnival Monday with K2K

Carnival Monday 2013 will be one of my most memorable as it has been a while since I was so satisfied with a Monday experience.

I know that I swore up and down that I would never play with K2K ever again, but guess what, I changed my mind and I'm glad that I did. I was so wrong about K2K and I'm proud to admit it. The important lesson for me was learning that I stress too much and what a stress free carnival Monday it was.

Anywho, after getting my makeup done quite early by Makeda from Shades of Sugar, I was ready to meet the band on Ariapita Ave.  I was glad that K2K chose to start here and end at the QPS.  It just made sense because we never got caught up in band traffic.

Kudos to K2K for bringing mas back to Monday.  I really don't like this trend of individual Monday wear with masqueraders in the same band wearing their own outfit.  It just seems like an ole mas band because there's no consistency.  And even better, K2K didn't give us a tshirt or hot shorts, but a well tailored blazer to be worn with our own black shorts, bikini bottom or leggings.

You know when you were with serious masqueraders when most persons refused to take off the blazer even when we felt like we were baking.  At some points especially on Ariapita Ave, it could have well been a winter coat that I was wearing, but for the greater look of the band I ignored the river of sweat on my back and chest.

It was also a really smart idea to eat along the route without an official rest stop which ensured that the band kept moving.  Some persons found this to be strange and harsh, but I would remind them that rest stops are a relatively new phenomenon.  Back in the day (and yes I am old enough to use terms like "back in day"), we ate and rested while waiting.  I really don't mind this since the band doesn't lose much parade time and sometimes the long rest makes you more tired.

Our lunch was a large Chinese chicken or fish meal from Wok and Roll.  There was also pizza from Pizza boys.  Both options were good.  For me, the drinks weren't a problem as I only drank water and lucozade.

There was a huge improvement with security which I have to applaud.  There was even an extraction team.  As far as I know, there weren't any incidents.

My major complaints about K2K on Monday were firstly, the upkeep of the restrooms which weren't very clean and lacked toilet paper.  This was especially important in a band made up of mostly women.  I also felt that there should have been handsoap, which is not really a big deal to provide. My second complaint was the music.  I didn't like that the DJs played very few songs. In addition, at times when the trucks were too close, there was an overlap of the sounds which was just a mess.  For a small band we only needed one DJ truck.

Overall, the positives far outweighed the negatives.  I had a great time on Monday, and I maintain that for me, a small band provides a better experience especially when the band is serious about their costumes.  Again, I'm glad that I was so wrong about K2K.....

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Soca and the Spiritual

I really have been wanting to comment on the Machel-Blue tie for the Soca Monarch but I feel that enough has been said and the real winner will always be and always have been William Monro.  Talk done.

I must admit that it was a while before  Machel's Float  grew on me but I'm upset that it took me so long to get on board.  At the time I was caught up with Superblue's Fantastic Friday which seemed early in the game a clear winner, but I really love both songs. It was only on further examination I came to the conclusion that like many other tunes, they connect us spiritually.  I've said this before about Bunji's Differentology, but these songs focus more on physical and emotional movement.

Spirituality is often linked to the "the sacred" meaning that it is "set apart from the ordinary".  In this sense, these songs "take us closer to a larger reality" or connect us with a "divine realm".  But this is not new.  Superblue has been bringing this experience to his songs since Get Something and Wave in 1991 which called for us to lift our hands to the skies.  For many, the heavens, spirits and ancestors are all located above us and exist outside of our reality. The wave that Blue, a spiritual Baptist and self proclaimed high priest of soca, demanded, encouraged us to reach to this divine place.  It didn't end there as the jump that accompanied the wave became an essential movement that took us off the earth and temporarily into the air.  The dance movements for the Shadow, the Iwer, Ronnie McIntosh's Ent, footsteps, jumbie and palance took the individual into the air, closer to the skies.  This movement is also common among the African Masai warrior tribe which is known for their jumping dance and shows the "strength and stamina" of the males from the village. Similarly, the constant jumping that we so expertly demonstrate at fetes, night after night does require exceptional endurance.

In Machel's Float, he speaks about levitating, hovering, drinking helium- all actions to come off the ground, to connect with the sacred above. This sentiment was also present in Higher than High and Jumbie.   For a true fan of soca, it's more than just simply liking a song, but attaining an emotional connection that takes away from the customary. The job of the artiste is then to take the listener to this level.  Like Super Blue says: for every soca that was written to inform, educate, entertain and feel .  When you can really feel a soca tune, it is no longer tangible, it is no longer ordinary, it's a sacred form....