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Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Question and Answer with the Band Leader

I am curious to find out about the arrangements that bands make for rest-stops on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.

Many bands have traditional rest stops that they use year after year. I am only familiar with two bands, Harts and TRIBE so I can only comment on these.

In the case of HARTS (non-inclusive), the band traditionally stops at the square in Newtown. There are usually vendors at that location and public toilets, but as far as I know, these are public areas and not affiliated in any way with the band. All food and drink from the band comes from the respective carts – nothing is set-up in the square. I'm guessing therefore that Harts does not pay a fee to stop at that location.
In the case of TRIBE (all-inclusive), the band usually sets up food and drink tents and bathrooms at Jackson Square. I would imagine in this case that the band has some sort of contractual relationship with the Port-of-Spain City Corporation for the use of the square in this manner.

With more and more new bands every year and limited spaces for this purpose, how do the bands pick where to stop for lunch? Is this decided at a meeting with the bandleaders or the NCC?

Do the other all-inclusive bands have a similar arrangement as TRIBE where they have tents set-up in a particular location? I would imagine that the POSCC and other private grounds acquire a lot of revenue for such use.

Additionally, what arrangements are made for the clean-up of these areas? In the case of Harts and other bands of its type, I would imagine that the band does not bear any responsibility for the clean-up of the square, but in the case of TRIBE and other all-inclusive bands I would imagine that clean-up would be included in the contract and the responsibility may fall on either party.

The squares are all rented, and you have to apply to the P.O.S. City Council. The people who intend to vend at these locations have to meet the requirements financially and otherwise of POSCC. As far as rest places, as bandleaders we have never needed to meet to discuss rest locations because we all know where each other's venues are. And I guess common sense and good manners have always prevailed. Clean up of P.O.S. has always been handled by the POSCC who contracts out to clean up crews. At least this is my understanding, bandleaders have no affiliation with POSCC.

I am writing to ask about bras.

How do bandleaders go about purchasing bras that lie go above the standard A-DD cup range range?

Do bands just try to find the cheapest "big bra" they can get their hands on?

Or do they take into consideration that a masquerader who is that well endowed may need different kind of bra?

Because of the weight of large breast, a wider back strap that does not ride up is essential. Wider, more supportive shoulder straps that do not twist and dig into the shoulders, and preferably that are adjustable to give "lift" for those who may need a little more.

Depending on the on the woman, under wires can sometimes be a no no, as the weight of the breasts pushes the wire down into the ribcage which can be murder, and leave bruising and painful fabric burns along the rib cage area.

Lastly, do you think bands should offer the option of a masquerader sending their own bra to be decorated?

This could be a win win situation, as the band does not have the hassle of looking for a "big bra" or a complaining uncomfortable customer, and the masquerader can provide their own bra ensuring custom fit, and therefore maximum support and comfort on the road.

For the large breasted women, a well fitting bra can be the difference between a joyful carnival experience or a painful nightmare on the road.

Larger cup sizes are always hard, No we don't go for the cheapest bra on the market, but I will admit it is hard to get an exact fit unless you have the advantage of trying on a sample ( as you do in stores) to assure a precise fit. For some strange reason different bra companies have different fits for the same size so it's hard to standardize.

The only way to really know is to go into the mas camp early and ask to try any samples they may have, and walk with your bra and a previous bra you received from them, and point out the difficulties you've had. Yes to me it makes good sense for larger cups if you are allowed to bring your own bra and have it covered. Except that a lot of bands, if you look at prototypes may have only bugle beads and applique with most of the bra exposed. this would mean having to get a bra to match the same color as the prototype, which will be hard. So covering a bra is a good option but would be more expensive. I still prefer having samples available for all sizes and have masqueraders come in and fit.

We all Know that bands can't afford to pay the throngs of people that do menial tasks...I Would Like to ask How does one get involved in Mas making, ie How to Volunteer time to a band?

Most bands contract out sections to independent producers so it's not like the old days where everything was done in house.So your best bet would be to find out via the mas camp whether they would facilitate you with the contact info of any of there producers. Other than that, and there are still some bands that do it the old fashion way and and make costumes in can try one of these.

How do you handle requests from overseas celebrities or Trinidadians with status regarding them wanting to play in your band? Do you receive requests way in advance of carnival or do you just accommodate them as you get them? I ask this because it then becomes an issue of extra security and other masqueraders playing in the same section, and whether it takes away from their carnival experience on the road. Thanks!

We would get request way in advance and these celebs normally have therir own security, which they would either buy costumes for or we would supply jerseys for them.

As an up and coming designer how does an individual get involved in designing a section for a band? what are the bandleaders looking for in a designer for a bandleader to give someone a chance to bring out a section in there band?

Also why would a bandleader let a designer design a section in there band after this same designer has a section in another band and both costumes look extremely similar when would the bandleader put there foot down because as a bandleader you wouldn't want another band looking similar to yours what's your take.

This was asked before, No bandleader likes when this happens but it is up to the individual to drop the design and never use that designer again. But on the other hand if a band leader wants a designer to be exclusive then he must be willing to pay for it.

Are you satisfied with the direction that some bands are following with regards to male costumes?. I honestly think that more time should be out into designing some of them(most of them)

This has also been asked, and the reason that male costumes are most times lacking, is because the majority of males want as little complication as possible. This may not be so in your case, but I know for a fact that the overwhelming majority feel this way.Or at least in my band. In the past I have tried to beef up the male costumes and all I get is complaints, especially about the price. they want cheap and simple.So I do a few fancy males that only sell when everything else is sold out. I wish men would be more open to disguising.

What is the difference between designing for a band and having a section in a band?

This is a good question. There is a big difference. Logistically, it is maybe 20 times harder as most sections pay a band fee to the band they belong. And all arrangements like music and security are made by the larger band. Also manufacture and delivery requires a lot more attention obviously, as the quantity you produce goes up. The amount of money required to invest also goes up. When you bring a section your break even number, that is the least number of people required to register so you break even financially, is a lot lower.

Of course the more expense, (as is the case with a bigger band ) means you better be sure that you hit that break even, or you will not have the money to produce your costumes, and failure to do so would also mean that you would not only lose the money you have already spent, but must return all deposits collected to that point. It's high risk business.As a rule a section has a lot less overheads. They can be produced in your back yard with few employs and a little help from friends.And for most part you avoid paying VAT.

Thanks again for questions, till next week be good.

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