At 20 years old I finally made it to my first ever Carnival band launch! Yuma Vibe’s presentation of their array of costumes for the 2014 Carnival season.
And I dare call myself a Carnival baby!
When I was younger and my mum would take me into town to see the mas bands pass on their way to the Savannah I always silently wished to be one of the revelers – scantily clad and having a time on top of the truck. I even stormed a band once (the infamous Poison) with my neighbours and crossed the savannah stage with them . . . talk about a dream come true! But as I got older and the price of costumes increased, spending $4000 on a two piece suit with some beads and some feathers to jump in the hot sun for two days doesn’t seem like the way to live.
But I must be the only Trinidadian in the world (my age) that thinks that!
If you don’t know anything about Trinidad and Tobago’s Carnival, the one thing you ought to know is that it’s not a joking matter. Band launch season is just as important as the actual two day revelry in the streets of Port-of-Spain and if anything after my experience at YUMA’s band launch, it’s an extension (or maybe it can be better described as a preview) of just what you’re going to expect – not just costume wise – on Monday and Tuesday.
Unlike many of the patrons there, who were hoping to catch a glimpse of an irresistible array of feathers and beads to parade around in next year, I just went for the party . . . but a band launch is a whole lot more than just that! As I stood in the crowd perplexed by the ‘oohs’, ‘aahs’, cheers and even the utterances of disappointment as the costumes were paraded before me, I realized that a band launch is easily our version of a fashion show and it can make or break your band’s chances of success, obviously. I didn’t quite get it to be honest, I mean it’s just some beads and feathers on a bikini, how much different can it be from what they presented last year? *eye roll* In my opinion, it’s not that different.
The real answer? Very different apparently.
People take this very seriously. As I write this I recall the uproar patrons had after a popular band’s launch maybe last year (or a few Carnival’s ago). This band had to re-launch because nobody liked the beads/bikini/feather combos . . . How hard is it to screw that up?
Although I’m here grovelling about the, dare I say, lack of creativity, I do enjoy Carnival though – I get my fill of the epic Carnival tunes at the fetes leading up to the two days of revelry but my Carnival usually ends on J’Ouvert morning with me covered in mud and oil and paint behind a truck blasting 3 Canal’s music. It’s the music, it’s the epicness, it’s the togetherness, the fact that the vibes cyah done and we’re all in our zone.
I’d definitely go to another band launch, especially if there’s a ‘chip around the stadium’ after party to give patrons a taste of Monday and Tuesday with whichever band. I’m all in!
Don’t look for me on Monday or Tuesday though.