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Saturday, April 27, 2013

What I Spent on Carnival in Jamaica!!!!

It's been a rough economic time for Jamaica and I really thought that Carnival would have felt the backlash.  But boy was I wrong.  Even with the increased costume and t-shirt prices, Bacchanal Jamaica did not suffer any major losses and fetes saw increased patronage yet people complained that "they had no money".  I admit that I was one of those who cursed the government/IMF for my frozen wages, but still went on to party hard.  However, I didn't play mas (believe it or not) and saved some money in that aspect, but at the end of the season, I felt that I had spent too much (which was further exacerbated when 2 persons are involved).

Last year at the end of the Ja Carnival season, I did a post on how much you could have spent if you went to all events.  This year I have decided to specifically look at how much I spent. (Let's work with an exchange rate of JA$99 = US$1):

Mas Camp with Bunji and Faye Ann
VIP ticket: JA$3000

Leh Go Fridays (2)
Food and Drinks: JA$2500

Mas Camp with Kes the Band
VIP Ticket: JA$3000
Food: JA$300

French Lyme
Drinks: JA$1000

Beach J'ouvert
General Ticket: JA$4500
Food: JA$450
Acccommodation: JA$9000
Parking: JA$500

Ticket: JA$1500
Food: JA$650

I Love Soca
Ticket: JA$1500
Drinks & Ice for Cooler: JA$1500
Food: JA$400

Sunrise Breakfast Party
Ticket: JA$4500

Outfits and Accessories


Total= JA$51,300

You may think this is a lot but I significantly reduced the number of events I would usually go to.  For instance, I only went to mas camp twice and I didn't go to any Frenchmen events which would have been another JA$10000 for Blocko and Bazodee. I also bought less outfits choosing to recycle those I wore for Trinidad Carnival.

The figure could also be more if I considered miscellaneous costs like the pan chicken, and the soup or hot dogs we would purchase after an event"to soak up de alcohol". Because we are in Jamaica, don't ignore the cost of gas especially when you have to pick up and drop off friends and then get to the event.

Most importantly I think I saved between JA$45000 and JA$50000 by not playing mas. How did I come up with such a huge figure? In addition to the cost of a Frenchmen costume, consider the upgrades, make up, tights, boots etc.

If you look at my breakdown, I'm sure that it's quite obvious that there are other ways that I can spend less like with the food and drinks, do general instead of vip or play mas in a cheaper section. I do agree that these would be more practical choices but this is how I do Carnival.  Yes, it sounds superficial to complain that I don't have much money and then do VIP at a fete on a general budget...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I Love Soca and Sunrise Breakfast Party

I Love Soca
Wednesday 3 April, 2013
Hope Gardens, Kingston

I Love Soca has become a permanent fixture on the last week of carnival in Jamaica.  This year the organizers opted to do a cooler fete which is becoming more popular in the local fete scene.  With a full cooler, I got there around midnight which was a little late since it was supposed to end at 2am.

Like Dusk, DJ Riche Ras and Dei Musicale from T&T provided the music.  As I said in a previous post, this has definitely been Richie's year.  He's on point with his selections and does not play a standard 7 songs.  Richie is clearly in tune with how to play soca and is far ahead of those who are still stuck in the mas camp vibe. Dei Musicale is always consistent and brings that piece of Trini to the Jamaican fete scene that we Trinbagonians miss. I also like that they know what to play for a Jamaican audience.

Hope Gardens was an adequate venue for this size crowd. There was sufficient parking and and just enough space for the patrons. The fete consisted of the usual Kingston soca crowd. I think at this point I can identify almost everyone who attends these sessions.

Pic taken from Sleek's fb page

I had a great time with my friends and enjoyed the vibe so much that I didn't realize when 2am came upon us. At that point I regretted arriving so late because I needed like  another hour or so. But it was over and sadly I left.

Although I didn't see that many coolers as it seemed that persons opted for bags or to share coolers, the concept is clearly doing well in Jamaica....

Sunrise Breakfast Party
Saturday 6 April, 2013
Constant Spring Golf  Club

At 5:30am on Saturday, I was on my way to the Sunrise Breakfast fete at Constant Spring Golf Club. I did not attend this fete last year but had heard great reviews so like most people, I knew that the crew had to check it out this year....

I‘m glad I got there early enough to get parking at the tax office near the venue.  We got in quickly and immediately went for the food because at this point I was starving.  On our way to the stations we gladly stopped for photo opps with Double M and JW.  We were then quickly brought off the gladdist train when we saw the long line for the food stations. After an almost 25 minute wait, we were greeted with stewed chicken, potatoes, provisions, corned pork, bacon, vienna sausage and beans, festival, eggs, samosas, and doubles. Nothing about these dishes really stood out for me. There was also a bad dawg hot dog stand which was the easier option. The thing about a breakfast fete is that food is important. You have to remember that because of the early start, patrons would have usually left home without a meal so after a while, we tend to be starving...

Unlike the food station, it was very easy to get drinks from the bar and they kept flowing.  To my dismay there was no Johnnie Walker but Dewars (blasphemy!), so I had to settle for Grey Goose and some shots of Cafe Patron...damn what a morning it was...

The Constant Spring Golf Club was an ideal choice for the venue.  I liked the outdoor atmosphere and the layout. Although it is a huge space, the promoters narrowed it down to accommodate the medium sized crowd...

Another pic taken from Sleek's fb page

For Ja$4500, we were treated to performances from Blaxx, JW and Machel. I love Blaxx's songs but he is not the best performer especially without his band.  I couldn't believe he did the exact thing word for word that he did at all the fetes I saw him at earlier this year.  Oh gosh man Blaxx, change it up a little bit nah...

Sunrise lived up to all the hype that was made about it.  It had all the elements of a good breakfast fete although the food aspect wasn't that impressive.  Kudos must be given to the patrons, especially those who came straight from J'ouvert with their paint and powder. It was evident that everyone had a great time.  Who would have imagined that somewhere in uptown Kingston, mid morning on a Saturday, there would be a group of people, drinking, wining, and just feteing away...

For more pics check out Sleek

Monday, April 8, 2013

Easter Weekend Jamaica style

Beach J'ouvert
Saturday March 30, 2013
James Bond Beach, St Mary

This was officially my 10th Beach J'ouvert and I really thought it would be epic; instead, I was left disappointed and sober. It could be that I had already made up my mind that any show with Shur-lame Winchester as the headline act for Ja$4500 would be a yawn fest and a rip off. I knew that Shurwayne would have been bad but I didn't know he would have been that horrible. His performance was lackluster and messy. And to make it worse, who was that guy in the yellow jeggings walking up and down the stage with an ipad? In addition to sunshine pants, the dancers were weak, and the band was out of of synch a lot of the times.  Shurwayne needs to get a stage director or choreographer along with a musical director to tighten up his act. Don't get me wrong; Shurwayne has one of the best voices in soca especially for groovy, but he was a much better performer when he was with Traffik. You may have noticed that since he left Traffik in 2008, his popularity has declined even with good songs. In some cases, it may be better for an artiste to stay with an established and experienced band than venture on their own. I mean not everyone can be a Machel or Kees....

But what baffles me even more is why would Bacchanal Jamaica hire Shurwayne as their headline act? Clearly the organizers are out of touch with what's happening in the soca  world because Shurwayne and You would be close to the bottom of the soca band hierarchy. The most obvious reason to me is that his price was right. I also heard that they wanted Machel but he had not been sentenced yet so they weren't sure if he would have been available, so in addition to Shurwayne, they took the HD what left-Patrice and Nappy...

I'm not sure what arrangement Bacchanal Jamaica had with James Bond beach but parking spaces were limited. Unlike last year, parking was not accommodated on the open field. Rather, it was on the entrance road and on the main road which were insufficient.  The police officers then instructed us to park at the police station and take the shuttle to the venue. This would have been great if we knew where this police station was.  Eventually we had to squeeze into a small lot where everyone had to block each other for the going rate of ja$500.

Once we got inside, I wanted to start my drinking. For the whopping ja$4500 entrance cost, the drinks were generic and below the shelf.  The best option at that point was Smirnoff, if you drank that.  I'm not sure what was served in the VIP, but I suspect it wasn't much better. And while we are on VIP, what a waste of money. There was no need for a VIP at Beach J'ouvert, but I guess Bacchanal just needed to squeeze out every dollar they can from patrons.

I'm just going to say that Bambino can't play soca to save his life. He claimed that he went to Trinidad Carnival, but did he go to a fete, bar or listen to the radio, walk down the street or something? Bambino is the worse soca dj in Jamaica. He speaks too much and his soca playlist consists of 7 songs. Dj Smoke played a little better, but overall the dj music lacked variety and was poorly mixed.

If you've been reading this blog for a while, you would know that I usually have nothing but praises for Beach J'ouvert which was one of my fave events not just in Jamaica, but generally. I've fallen out of love with this fete which has gotten more expensive and weak in quality. Unless Machel is at the next Beach J'ouvert,  I am almost sure that I won't be there next year...

Monday April 1,2013
Beverly Hills, Kingston
JA$1500+ a bottle

I came back to Kingston on Easter Monday and almost did not attend Dusk.  But I had liked the idea of a poolside bottle party and wanted to check it out.  Dusk is a new fete for the Jamaican Carnival season and will definitely be on my list next year.
It was cool that we could have walked with our own expensive liquor and not give it to the bar.  The only complaint here was that it was difficult to get sufficient ice and chasers when you held on to your own alcohol.  But eventually we convinced the bartender that his night would have been much easier if he just gave us give us bottles of ginger ale and cranberry juice instead of those tiny cups.

The other attraction to the fete was the the doubles. Now if you know a real Trinbagonian, you are aware that doubles are our sustenance, and if you are a Trinbagonian in Jamaica, doubles is like gold. So with my yellow belly in hand, the first thing I did was seek out my curried gold. It was so funny that the first Trini I saw pointed me in the direction of the doubles. I was surprised that this wasn't the Mrs Khan doubles, but one made by a Jamaican. I must give her props for presentation and trying to keep it legit by offering pepper, cucumber chutney, and shadow/chandon beni sauce. But sadly, it ended there. Even Trinis know that making doubles is no easy task, so i rate this chick for effort but hands down it was the worse attempt at doubles i have ever tasted. I mean a doubles is really bad when the pepper cannot even mask the taste. Even though she got the texture right, the barra was bland.  One of the biggest mistakes people make with doubles channa (chick peas) is that they curry it the same way they would do it for roti; no, it is not the same and it‘s worse when you use the wrong curry. Any way, let me stop because this post is about the fete and not the doubles...

The best part of Dusk for me was the music which was provided by Dei Musicale from T&T and Richie Ras from Jamaica. The playlist was current and extensive. Trust me, this was no Mas Camp vibe and i don't even remember if Palance was played.  The congo line around the pool was also a major highlight and showed how nice the vibe was.

Pic stolenfrom Trini Jungle Juice
The Dusk promoters are definitely on to something here. The bottle party concept, intimacy, good music and a fuss free event made this one of my favorite fetes of the Jamaica carnival season. It was also a great way to end the weekend and help me forget about that mess that was Beach J'ouvert....