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Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Coming Soon

I was expecting Hart's website to be up and running today, but it is still showing "coming soon". From the information I received the website should be up tomorrow, but I will reserve further comment until I see that actually happen. In the meantime registration at Harts is going at a steady pace, the deposit on costumes is $600.00 and two more sections have sold out:

White Mountain Female BLACK costume is sold out, the white costume is still available:

and both options of White Mountain male are sold out as well.

There are two turquoise/orange/brown female costumes with pheasant feathers on the headpiece, one I mentioned in an earlier post is sold out but the other option is still open. The one that is still open is called Shangrila and there is a pink/orange costume in that section as well. Now, the turquoise/orange/brown Shangrila costume is almost sold out with only a few spaces left, so here is hoping that if the website goes up tomorrow there will be costumes still available in that section.

I enquired about the option of registering via telephone since the website is not up and was told registration for overseas masqueraders can only be done on the website BUT you can call Nigel at 622-8038 (Harts mascamp) and ask him for more information.

$$$Money Matters$$

When I am discussing costumes and costume prices with my co-workers (who are not mas players) they are sometimes overwhelmed with my enthusiasm and astounded that I am willing to pay so much for a bra and panty covered with beads and feathers.

I don't know how to explain it to people who have never played mas, but there is no price you can put on that feeling of euphoria for those two days. Now I am not saying that the price of costumes have not been steadily rising while the product is simultaneously getting smaller. The ideology now with all-inclusive bands is that you are paying for more than a costume since we all know the costume costs nothing close to $3000.00.

My husband broke it down and justified the pricing for both me and my friend G by comparing Carnival Monday and Tuesday to an all-inclusive party spanning the course of two days. His philosophy is that the better all-inclusive parties cost around $500.00 from 6:00P.M. to 12:00 midnight. That's six hours of music, security, food and drinks.

Then by using the same principle you get food, drinks, music and security for 6 hours on average on Carnival Monday and 12 hours on Tuesday, using $500.00 as our standard that's $1500.00 for the all-inclusive component of Mas. Then add in all the "perks" such as transportation for latecomers, mobile resting stations, cool-zones and mobile toilets and chalk that up to another $500.00 per masquerader, even if you not using all the facilities it is still provided for you.

Finally you have your costume,(and frankly if you are going to a $500.00 all-inclusive you would have to get something new to wear) so the price of the costume will vary from bewteen $500.00 to $1000.00 because apart from raw materials you need labour to assemble it, box it and distribute it.

The final analysis is that you can justify the prices of $2600.00 to $3000.00 for a costume since it takes into consideration MORE than just the costume. It takes alot of money for the bandlaunching, renting Cascadia for hosting the costume viewing, printing all the TRIBE booklets with the costume information, setting up the lunch area on Monday and Tuesday, goody bags,plus paying their employees (in whatever form) and I am sure there are other cost overheads that I have not take in to consideration such as website hosting, telephone, lights, internet etc. Coming to think of it, I did this as a project for my Project Management class but on a smaller scale, my project was producing a section in a Carnival band and there are lots of hidden costs that I did not even have a clue about until I started talking to friends who have sections of their own.

Since I am not stupid and know the bandleaders will still make a profit come Ash Wednesday, I can see them making this proft through sponsorship to offset some of these costs. And, I know TRIBE has alot of sponsors that's why they give such a sweet goody bag!

So in the end I can say I am comfortable with the prices now, even though I have my ceiling on how much money I am willing to spend for two days of euphoria. Taking into consideration what I am getting for my money with TRIBE I can safely say it is worth it, since they do deliver on all their promises unlike other all-inclusive sections that I personally know of.

With the cost of living in Trinidad rising steadily and basic food items costing an arm and a leg it's not only mas that's being affected, everything is getting more expensive. If prices for costumes becomes ridiculously unattainable (though some may argue they are already unattainble to the working poor and are aimed at only the socioeconomic groups that can afford to drop $3000.000 on a costume) I think mas bands might just have to re-consider all-inclusive and offer costume only which works for HARTS (you have to pay extra for toilets and/or a drinks cart with lunch).

And if that is not an option for the future and prices continue to rise, then as much as I love Carnival I will have to consider playing mas every two years instead of every year. Though I can afford a $3000.00 costume now, I cannot afford it if every year the costs goes up since life does go on after Carnival. So for 2007 I plan to enjoy Carnival to the fullest, who knows, I might not be able to afford 2008 and will have save up my pennies for 2009 because Lord knows I am not putting myself in debt for Carnival.....but that is a whole other topic!
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