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Thursday, June 28, 2007

Carnival Virgin Band Launching 101

1. Carnival Bands in Trinidad launch the following year’s presentation usually between August and November, with Harts having dibs on being the first to launch for a number of years. This year band launching “season”, as I like to call it, starts on Friday July 27th with Harts launch.

2. Tickets for the band launch are usually pre-sold at the mas camp or some other designated venue. The normal procedure is the band contacts masqueraders who have played with the band before via email or telelphone with information on when and where the launch will take place. After that everyone, masqueraders and non masqueraders alike, will have an opportunity to purchase tickets. The exception being Harts who traditionally have kept their band launching only for their masqueraders in the past though last year tickets were on sale to the general public.

3. The main focus at a band launching is to showcase the costumes for the following year’s presentation. Unlike a regular fete it is best advised to arrive early to see the show, if live models are being used. Though the costumes are the main attraction at the band launch a live band or performer is usually used to distract the crowd before the show begins.

4. If your goal is to get a first hand view of the costumes know that the live models usually walk some type of stage , much like a catwalk, and only those patrons who are closest to the stage will get a good view of the costumes. If you stand further back chances of getting a detailed look are limited.

5. For those so inclined you can walk with a camera though many of the photo websites such as, and do take photographs of the models in costume for their website. The caveat is that you have to wait for the photos to be published. With your own camera you can take shots of the costume and review them at your leisure. The only problem I have encountered is getting really good, full bodied shots of the costumes are difficult. The photographers from the aforementioned photo websites usually have a media pass and are allowed backstage so they can get up-close shots of the costumes while you have to get a quick shot positioned at the side/front of the stage while the model saunters down the catwalk; much more difficult a feat to accomplish than it seems.

6. Some bands distribute promotional material at the band launch showcasing the costumes such as booklets or calendars where professional photographs of models in costume are displayed. These booklets are also extremely helpful as they list the name of the sections/costume as well. Make sure and secure one of these especially if you do not walk with a camera.

7. You will not be able to register for your costume at the band launching. Bands will announce the dates when the mas camp will be open and the website will be up and running following the launch, pay attention to those dates. Harts mas camp is the only one that I know of which opens it doors on the Monday immediately following the launch, but even then the website launches at a later date. TRIBE has been known to open for a pre-viewing of the costumes (you still will not be able to register) where they are displayed at a designated location and persons can have a much closer look at the costumes. Following the pre-viewing masqueraders will then be informed of a date for registration. TRIBE’s system is such where both online and in house registration begins at the same time. Other bands simply open their doors for registration at a later date following the band launch.

8. A band launching is not a Carnival fete so do not expect to see patrons dressed in sneakers and shorts ready to jam and wine down low. In fact I saw the most fashionable and trendy ladies at Island People’s launch (from all the launches I went to last year) sporting all the latest trends while the people who went to TRIBE’s launch tended to be a bit more casual in jeans and cute, sexy top.

9. There will be many band launchings occurring between July and November, for both smaller and larger bands and even private sections of bands. The more popular band lunches include Island People, TRIBE, Pulse 8 and Trini Revellers. I expect that new bands such as D Krewe, Ronnie and Caro and Taboo will also attract interest for their 2008 debut. Choosing which band launches to go to will depend on where your interest lies though it is worthwhile to go to a few of the bands you might be interested in!

10. Finally if you are coming from overseas especially to attend a particular band launch DO NOT purchase your flight ticket until the date has been CONFIRMED by the mas band. Dates and venues can change up to the last minute; I remember Island People changed the date of their launch in both 2005 and 2006! So unless you get an email or phone call from the mas camp please do not take the “alleged” dates to heart, even if you read it on this blog!

Let the season begin!

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