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Thursday, February 26, 2009

TRIBE Carnival 2009 Review

My preparations for Carnival 2009 began on Ash Wednesday of 2008, leading up to the big day in 2009 with an entire year of excitement and expectation; I have never been as prepared for a Carnival as I was for 2009 and I can safely say it was one of my best ever.

I absolutely loved my costume this year; it was the BEST costume I have ever worn, kudos to the designer Monique Nobrega whose sections I have always played in from inception. However, the costume was not without some issues. First off after collecting my costume I had to do my own adjustments on the craftsmanship of the tail, which was not all to my liking. I sat down with a glue gun and redid some of the extended feathers adding more to mine, as even though it was full there should have been longer bonnet feathers to the back. I also added gems to mine for an extra special touch.

The main change I made was in how the tail actually stayed on your body. Originally the tail came with two pieces of satin ribbon that was meant to be tied around the waist under the belt and that simply was not working for me. After tying the ribbon it looked messy and did not stay put at all. So, I got the brilliant idea to add velcro to the ribbon so I could then wear it as a belt (I cut off the excess after I velcroed it). I also added velcro to the waistband so everything lined up properly and then secured everything with stitch on the sewing machine; it was the most ingenious thing ever (pats self on back) as my tail stayed in place perfectly! My handiwork had to also come into play on my foot pieces as I got two LEFT sides when I collected my costume! That meant having to switch around the right side by taking apart all the decorations and re doing them in the right direction… by myself!

I was most annoyed with the error on the footpieces, which I did not discover until I was actually in the process of decorating the boots so there was no chance of me taking it back to get it corrected. Also they skimped on the number of bonnet feathers on the footpieces as well; there were supposed to be NINE and we only got TWO!!!!!!! Listen, I paid for NINE (as per the prototype) and I wanted my NINE. As I told someone, if I showed up at TRIBE to collect my costume with $9.00 short they were not giving me my costume. Therefore if we masqueraders paid for a certain amount of beads or feathers or decoration on our costume we should get it!

Those were my only complaints with the costume, other than that it was gorgeous and everyone in my section did look as if they got what was advertised for the most part. I must take some time to give HUGE thanks and KUDOS to Richard and Anthony who worked with me on customizing my costume to my personal specifications. And before anyone wanted to know how come I got something “special” I called TRIBE from the get go and asked if I could add extras to my costume and they obliged. Other people in different sections also got special customization as well; there was a wire bra and a collar in Caged Canary for example.

So after a great day on the road Monday, Tuesday started for me super early as I was up since before 3AM to get to my makeup appointment for 5AM. This year I chose to go with the very talented Kirk Thomas (full review to come later) and he was worth every cent I paid! He did an awesome job on me as well as the other four girls who were in my group; one also made the Newspapers yesterday!!

Once the makeup was done I was glad I had chosen an early appointment as we got parking very easy in the Savannah and just strolled down Stanmore Avenue to meet the band which was just pulling off. The breakfast trucks were serving doubles, bake and something, also fruit. The band moved along Tragerete Road and turned unto Park Street, now I had heard a few weeks ago that TRIBE was not going downtown and at first I was thinking that downtown “stage” was one of the better experiences however I understood the need to avoid the jam we were in last year so I welcomed the change. It was still relatively early for some when we met the band and as we needed to get to the front I ended up walking the entire length from the back and it was huge but not uncontrollable at that point.

On a side note on Monday my husband got a FEMALE ID band and did not realize that until he was about to put it on that morning. Slight panic when we realized TRIBE’s error but a few phone calls later and it situation was resolved, we were to collect his correct band from one of the Road Managers who made sure and checked that I was wearing mine and took back the wrong band as well.

There was no lengthy wait to get from Stanmore to the Savannah, I think the only time we stopped for a while was when rain started and masqueraders took shelter under the gas station on Charlotte Street.

Other than that we had a smooth chip all the way to the Savannah, so much so that I had to race forward to meet my section. After all the complaints about TRIBE crossing the Savannah as a jumbled mess in 2008 security was VERY adept in making sure that the sections stayed in their correct order and that they were kept from racing unto the stage ahead of time. Being frontline we were allowed to cross first and crossing with the best truck in the band we had a BALL!!! That judging point made up for not going downtown. All that was missing was a ramp and an elevation so that we could feel as if we were on stage but it was much better than last year overall, even if my section was not first!

The agenda after crossing was to head to lunch, again last year there were major complaints about getting lunch late so we were quite pleased to show up at the lunch stop and it was early!!! I was able to get a nice spot on the Heineken mat under an umbrella for me and my friends as well as I secured some blankets for those who had to sit on the grass. We were so early that the lunch was not even being served as yet but soon enough they started. One advantage to getting to the lunch stop early is getting clean toilets without the lineup! The menu looked the same as Monday but the actual lunch was different, I love Kibbi so I went with the international, one complaint is that the rice was too dry.

While having lunch is when we were rained on… twice! The first downpour was not so bad, it was over and the sun peeked out before the bulk of people arrived at the lunch stop. It was the second downpour that seemed as if it was not going to stop and brought with it chilling rain to the bone! Now we were under a Heineken umbrella but there were people taking shelter under he food tent, trees, blankets and even plastic! I saw some masqueraders with a shower cap on and even one with an umbrella! Eventually the rain stopped and we were all hoping that the sun would come out and no more rain for the rest of the day! Many headpieces were ruined and lots of droopy wet feathers were walking around. By the end of the day most had plumped back up. For me my tail was safely stashed away in a car at lunch and my headpiece was fully waterproofed along with every feathered part of my costume (including said tail). Fletch dry works excellent but cannot stand up to extended periods of constant rain!

Soon after the rain stopped we were back on the road again, perfect timing. Let me tell you we started off at the back of the band and made our way forward and the size of TRIBE was felt going down that street by the Oval where we were just swamped with people! Listen, there is no way that was 5000 people and no way that TRIBE cut down on numbers!! The band was as big as last year and for the most part I did not feel as crowded however at certain areas and by certain DJ trucks it seemed as if 3000 people were jammed in right there. By the Oval was a jam session (people please use the lunch stop as an opportunity to make use of the wet wipes and deodorant provided) with some smelly people, I had to get out from behind the rope and move to the sidewalk. Navigating through with huge headpiece meant lots of people got a mouthful of feathers; if you see the massive headpiece coming GET OUT THE WAY! My friend went through all the jam with her back pack on, and people were slapped in their faces so many times it was too funny.

Another tight spot was as we turned by Synergy but I learned from early on to speed up and get in front the truck before they turned. I also kept moving so that I avoided areas that were too crowded and jumped on the sidewalk or walked ahead closer to truck # 2 or bar #2. Truck #3 was my section truck and every other section wanted to be by THAT truck! I also heard the same thing happened with the other popular trucks as well; everyone was jammed in that area. The size of the band really, REALLY needs to be taken into consideration and numbers reduced for 2010, I don’t care who wants to get in TRIBE tell them NO.

The rope pullers were the hardest working people on the road, they tried their best to keep out the stormers who were probably listening to the live feed on 96.7FM and decided to come down and join TRIBE! Way too much attention! Security was also working hard; there was the regular security and the mean looking SPU who were scanning hands for ID bands. But curious enough many plain clothes people had ID bands IN the band! Rumour has it that fake ID bands were sold for $600.00TT! As for security chucking masqueraders out their wrong section, it did not happen with me but Carnival Jumbie has a rant on that subject and one of the other bloggers also said that security personnel physically ordered him out of a section he was not supposed to be in before crossing the Savannah. That type of “manhandling” is cause for some serious issues and I hope TRIBE gives the staff some training for 2010 on how to treat the PAYING masquerader before someone who gets jostled slaps them with a law suit. On another note security did want to call SPU for a stormer who I had to accost for wanting to push through and damage my headpiece, so they were working extra hard to keep order. For the most part the sheer size of TRIBE was mostly costumed masqueraders!

The best jump up for the day for me was on Ariapita Avenue where we crossed the Synergy Stage (after eating copious amounts of Pizza) and Richmond Street heading back up Tragetere Road as I had enough space where I was to jump up and get on bad! Also by that time a full afternoon of Johnny Walker and Coconut Water had taken effect and I was having a time! Please note TRIBE that some bar folks were telling people only one drink at a time when some bars were super crowded. Again I hardly made trips to the bar (thanks to the hubby and the people I was liming with) but when I did I avoided the bars with a mob of people and walked forward to bar #2! I also heard complaints that the bar was too high, and in retrospect I can see how this is a valid complaint for people under a certain height as I am tall and I had to stretch to give the bar folks my cup.

Contrary to reports out there TRIBE did not end at 5:00PM, I was at Truck #3 and we made it back to Stanmore Avenue at around 6:45PM with the rest of the band still on Tragerete Road. My Carnival ended, as it does each year at around 7:00PM (I don’t stick around in Port of Spain very late) however many people did enjoy the after party at Jenny’s Car Park and kudos to TRIBE for that move.

Overall, this was the BEST Carnival in a long time, in spite of the rain, in spite of the sheer numbers of people and in spite of the costume glitches. My costume and the friends that were with me Monday and Tuesday really added to that feeling as well. I was happy to see that many of the issues masqueraders had last year were addressed this year with new measures put in place to avoid the congestion. The one thing TRIBE failed to deal with was the SIZE of the band; everyone simply CANNOT play in the band! So, my letter to TRIBE will be penned soon to address those concerns.

In the meantime let me thank everyone who made this Carnival special to me:

Richard and Anthony – thank you for your fabulous job on my costume! You guys are truly talented, that Blue Tanager individual was just phenomenal and I hope you guys stick around for 2010. Also thanks for putting up with my crazy ideas and the number of times I harassed you guys on when it came to working on my costume to give it that extra special touch.

Solange Shaw Gopaul (designer of Caged Canary) – Thanks for allowing me to be one of the Canaries on Monday! I had a great time and loved your section; looking forward to your designs for 2010 I already have a list of people waiting with baited breath to see what you come with, including me!

Kirk Thomas – Thank you for the fabulous job on the makeup .I walked in a downtown girl and walked out an uptown diva! And I know that giving you special mention will mean you are booked solid in 2010 but please note I have already secured my space ladies!

Cbee- Thanks for tracking down my Victoria Secrets bra and also for the copious amounts of Fletch Dry Powder that saved my costume!

Trinprincess – Thanks for braving the cold to go downtown New York and trekking through the fashion district to secure my bling! I was all accessorized (down to my bag) thanks to you!

Aissa – Thanks for taking me by granny for the Diva redo! You saved me from walking around with a horrid run in my stockings and gave me a spot to refresh and recharge!

And finally Thanks to Monique Nobrega for a GORGEOUS costume and for switching my section when I bitched about the line up and all the staff at TRIBE who I had to deal with that helped me out in which ever way to make sure my Carnival was awesome! See you in 2010!

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