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Sunday, June 22, 2008

Question and Answer with the Band Leader

These are the answers to the rest of the questions asked that Band Leader did not get to answer on Wednesday. Remember tomorrow I will be taking another rounds of questions, so start thinking about what you would like to know about mas, production of mas or Trinidad Carnival in general.

My question(s):-
1. Every year there is the problem of congestion along
the parade route. This is often compounded by the
disappearance of security personnel (or more
accurately lack of responsiveness of security) after a
particular time. Has there been any thought towards
what can be done to address this?

Okay we have touched on the issue of congestion, (to be revisited I promise) but for now, lets deal with security.

As the the day wears on, especially on Tuesday fatigue sets in. Security has had a full day of confrontation and are tired, also and even though we try our best to ensure that they do not drink alcohol, some do. Add to that the outsiders who are mostly intoxicated by late evening, are now out in their numbers, and constantly testing the perimeters set by the security. This problem is more prevalent on carnival Tuesday. The day is twice as long as Monday and the outsiders are at full strength. What makes this worse is narrow streets, where there is no side walk, so no where to send outsiders. To be honest some security are plain lazy, and will just go along with the flow just to get paid.

Here is where good leadership comes in. The head of security must always be patrolling the band making sure that security is doing there job and more importantly leading by example. A good tip is, once it starts to get dark, try to position yourself in the center of the road staying away from the sides where most confrontations take place between security and outsiders, it is also harder to be grabbed and dragged between a parked car or of into some alley. If you see something wrong report it to the security, And if security is doing something wrong report that as well. Make it known to the band leader either during or after the carnival season. It would definitely be helpful to photograph the offending security with your cell phone or camera for identification later. Too many times people complain and can offer no description, so at least the following year that security person will not be hired. Please don't worry, Carnival is so much fun!!!! I have been doing this for many years and Carnival is a lot safer now than years gone by, just keep your head on, and stay with friends.

2. Another question: How is quality of costume
production being guaranteed? Masqueraders are being
asked to fork over more and more money almost each
year to play. While most times there is no problem,
sometimes there is. So what will be done to appease
the concerns of those masqueraders who want more than
a simple verbal indication, that yeah costumes will be
produced to a certain standard.

I agree that the quality of costumes should be guaranteed, but as far as enforcing that guarantee, as unfair as it sounds, it is up to you. Scrutinize your costume well on collection and voice any issues immediately before leaving the mascamp.. I am pretty sure, (especially with all the competition there is now ) that most bands would go the extra mile to facilitate repairs and adjustments. If you are not satisfied then ask for your money back. I know this may not be a viable option because everyone wants to play mas, but there is really not much more than that you can do. If you are not happy with your costume and you feel your complaints have fallen on deaf ears, then the following year, play with another band. Exercise your right as a consumer, in fact it's no different than buying any other product. Sorry I wish there was more I could recommend.

3.My question is what are you doing to appease those
masqueraders who are not exactly a size two? As a
voluptuous woman myself it's a bit discouraging and
saddened me when I do not see women who look like me in
the band launchings. We come in all shapes and sizes
and that should be seen within your showcase of
beautiful costumes for the year!

I agree with you 100%. I know I try in my band, to put sections that I feel would appeal to the more voluptuous women. We offer whole piece bath suits in all sections except front line. But women, no matter what their size don't like to think of themselves as being in the fat section. Of course we don't call it that, but women are not idiots, they know the fat section when they see it. So we get some registering but most won't. We have a unique way of helping the more conservative masquerader enjoy any section in our band.

TIP: Take a simple piece of elastic and go to Jimmy Aboud .Find yourself some soft following material, that matches the color of your costume. Cut as many panels or squares as you feel necessary to drape around your waist. Be careful what material you choose, because certain materials when cut, tend to fray. Just ask the staff at Jimmy Aboud they are helpful. Now take the elastic, cut a piece that fits around your hips or waist and tie the ends. Take the material squares that you have cut and hang each buy one corner of the square, so you get a draped diamond effect. Tuck it under the elastic you have around your waist corner after corner, square after square, until you have circled your waist. Of course do this while looking in the mirror. When you are satisfied that you have an even coverage, then mark the elastic where each panel needs to be attached, and tack the squares after with needle and tread. This now can be easily worn under the waist band of your costume, the elastic hidden from view by the waist band itself. and lovely draped material flowing from under any skimpy fall piece. We offer these skirts with every section by request.

4. Is there a way that some POPULAR mas bands can
ensure quick and effective customer service throughout
the year. for instance, queries about things regarding
the band and masqueraders, if the masquerader decides
to e-mail the said band then wait for about a month or
two for feedback or no feedback at all!!!

Normally during the carnival season my website is checked several times a day by personnel taking registration. And I think every carnival band does that, but remember each new registration has to receive a conformation email that has to be done by the same person taking registration. So sometimes, they get a little overwhelmed with all the emails received. Obviously the new registrations will get preference as people send credit card info and will need immediate response. Secondary would be queries, that of course, also need replies,but as carnival draws closer, mascamps get very hectic and staff are overworked. When this happens we tend to focus on only the most immediate tasks. Mind you, this is not an excuse, merely a fact. All aspects of masquerader communications should be maintained, but we are not perfect. I would suggest calling the mas camp, but I also know how difficult it is to get through, phone lines are often tied up. As inconvenient as it sounds, if emails or phone calls don't work, then you, or someone you know, will have to go to the mas camp to have your queries addressed. Sorry, but at least I know that this question will at make me try harder to improve my customer info service.

5. Many women may not exactly feel comfortable playing
in a full blown bikini as not all of can have the
bodies of the models displaying the costumes at the
launches,is there any way that there can be more
options available? one can perhaps use monokinis or
corsets which can bring some comfort to the
masquerader by being covered and sexy at the same
thanks :)

Great idea!
I have several masqueraders, who for whatever reason, like to have a special cut whole piece. Some times to conceal stretch marks or scars from past operations. What I do is ask them to bring in a sample of the bath suit that I can take to the bathing suit factory ,and see if a replica could be made. Some times they will facilitate, but it has to be done early. You see, it is hard to do special design suits if there is not much demand for it. Factories hate to stop the production line to make one or two bath suits, it's just not cost effective, and even if they do it, there is always an additional cost that will; be passed on to you. So I suggest if you want to have this done, register early and ask the mas camp if they could facilitate. If the bath suits are being ordered from China it would be unlikely. So ask which section, if any, are being made here and could it be done.

6.I have only one question. Why is it that the
bandleaders only cater to the very, very slim ladies,
I know that they are many ladies that are not slim,
and love to play mas in Trinidad carnival, not all of
us can play in a bikinis, some would love to play in a
tankini or corset. One thing I mas say, I congrat the
band D'Krew for having a plus size model in their band
launching 2K8. Is is true that some band leaders dont
like making costumes for the plus size ladies due to
the extra beads, and braids etc.

Can you please ask the band leader this very important
question for me.

I know it's frustrating, Yes it cost a little more, but not that much more. Most women would gladly pay a little more to get a costume that they are comfortable with. You see the trouble is, most bands tend to cater to the masses. Meaning that if the bulk of your masqueraders are small to medium, and that is what sells, you tend to cater to these sizes primarily. I know, because I am guilty of this as well. The difference is, I offer additions like whole piece in any section, extra beads, and soft material skirts (that cover all the way around, or gathered only in the front and back) that are done on an elastic belt, and worn under any skimpy fall piece. This I find works better, because it means that you can play in practically any section, without being limited to just 2 or 3 sections designed for heavier women. Recommend this to your favorite band, it really works well!

7.Why is it that they are going all the way to China to
produce the costumes. Are they selling out for the
sake of a profit. I know that these costumes at least
$100.00US to produce. Is it the art to making costume
is being lost for the sake of making a profit. What is

Another change is coming to carnival that is hard to accept. I do not worry to much about the China issue, this because everything we use to make costumes, comes from other countries.The only thing we do is manufacture them here. Once we continue to do our job well, and manufacture with good quality and at affordable prices, most of our costumes will continue to be made here. Competition always favours the consumer, a better made costume for a better price. Please don't make bandleaders out to be money hungry. We are well aware of the traditions of carnival but unfortunately, when you have to report to the bank to renew your over draft EVERY YEAR, you can't say, I am sorry the reason we did not do well this year is because I want to support the local labour industry. What do you think they will say?

Carnival has become very competitive as you well know, and bandleaders take great financial risk every year in a highly volatile commercial climate to produce a band. Yes you get deposits, but the cost to produce is in the millions, and if something goes wrong,(and lots of things can) you have lost your investment, and also have to return all deposits you received if you can't deliver. We make a living I won't lie, but we are no less deserving than any other business to turn a profit. We take the same risk and deserve the same rewards. Competition will control prices and quality, as in all free markets.What is most important, is that we constantly strive to offer the masquerader top quality for their dollar. I hope you understand.
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