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Monday, March 02, 2009

TRIBE Review


I absolutely love your blog and after being an avid follower for over 1.5 years I've finally decided to send this email :)

I had a great time this year in Tribe...aside from maybe year no. 1, I don't remember having such a good time, even with the rain. I loved my costume Bird Of Paradise FL, with the exception of the leg pieces which never made it out of the house because no matter what I did they wouldn't stay on...oh and the diamantes that managed to create runs in multiple pairs of tights, even though I coated them with tons of clear nail polish (is there something else that I could have done?).

I was very upset initially to learn that BOP was the second to last section, but it worked out for the best, the DJ for our cluster was good, no rush for our drinks truck, we were close to the wee wee trucks and there was plenty space to carry on!! My crew now actually wants to be in the back of the band next year.

The security was the best ever, all of those guys worked really, really hard!!!

There were however a few things that I hope Tribe would consider doing differently
I get that we will probably never get Monday wear from Tribe; but at least hook those of us interested in some coordinated Monday wear up with a designer doing something specific for each section...I loved the outfits I saw for Brazilian Macaw and African Lovebird.

If Tribe doesn't decrease the size of the band, then they are going to need to find somewhere larger to have lunch (maybe St. Mary’s grounds which is right around the corner) and provide more blankets and tents. Because there are now way too many people in that space and as a result we had an unpleasant experience with a young ‘lady’ over a blanket/spot/shade, that we chose to leave the band and head to the park early to secure.

Whilst overall the security was excellent, the security that controlled the movement of the band through the Savannah judging point was a mess. We were towards the back of our section (moving forward all the time) and were physically pushed forward on to masqueraders in front of us by the line of security personnel. They were so aggressive that we found it uncomfortable and eventually moved to the middle of the section. I don’t understand the reason for the manhandling and would love if someone could explain it to me.

All in all Carnival 2009 was a good one, though all the way through the season something seemed to be missing, not quite sure what though…all of the 9 or so fetes I went to were good…Carec or whatever its now called was the only one that I thought was a little odd/off and not quite worth the time it took me to get dressed.

Thanks for keeping all of us informed throughout the year, keep up the excellent work!!!

Legacy Review

Hey Saucy,

I have to thank you once again for keeping us all hype for the carnival season. BEST BLOG ON THE NET!!
I have a lil review of Legacy, if you would like to include it on your blog.

2KWine was my first experience of what is said to be the ‘greatest show on earth’ and without a doubt IT IS!!! After months of crying over sold out Tribe and searching throws other bands pics and reviews we ended up playing with Legacy. Here’s the rundown:

Registration/Costume Pick-Up: We finally decided to play with Legacy in January and shortly after made our down-payments. Online registration was very easy and Senvia was an affordable and easy option. My cousin received her confirmation email promptly, but I, on the other hand, had to call Legacy only to hear that they were having issues with the bank and would let me know as soon as my deposit was received. About a week after that I got my confirmation email- Whew!! So when we arrived in T&T on Carnival Thursday, the 1st thing we wanted to do was picked up our mas! Well, it was a good thing we called- because we were told that our bags had not been assembled, so please come on Friday. We were a little disappointed, but we were glad we found out. We arrived at the Legacy mas camp around 3pm Carnival Friday. There was no line, so we were able to go directly into the payment/reception office.

My cousin and I made own final payment and received our costume in under 30 mins!!! YIPEE! But hear problems- My friend never received a confirmation email and did not follow-up before arriving in T&T. So of course, Legacy never received her payment, and had no costume ready for her. However, one of the young ladies was very apologetic and told her to come back tomorrow and she would be ‘all set.’ However she was not ‘all set’ because upon our arrival to the mas camp on Saturday, we had to wait over 3 hours only to be told, very apathetically, that her costume was unavailable and she had to come back on Sunday!! WTF!?!?

Well, we both made a very big stink, which in the end served no purpose L So we went back yet again, very tired after a wonderful night at Insomnia, and finally she was able to get her costume after a 30 min wait. I’d say Legacy is great when everything is running smooth- but the min the get a spoke in their wheels, everyone forgets the manners! Not okay! (Btw, I’ll leave out how they gave me mismatched arm bands and a pathetic neck-piece! And when I went to exchange them, a very rude little girl, took them and disappeared! Whatever) Also, there were minor adjustments to be made to all of our costumes.. Thank goodness I walked with my glue gun!

On the Road: I have officially renamed Legacy as “De Dutty Crew” because I have never seen so much jamishness in pretty mas!! And I can’t lie, I kinda liked it! Let’s start with Monday mas.. After a completely wonderful, amazing, mind-blowing, TIRING jouvert experience with Insomniacs, I was dog tired but ready my first Trini mas experience. Maybe it’s something I have to get used to, but I did not like how there was NO organization on the road for Monday. No sections, no real security, NO FOOD, nothing like how I pictured it. And to top it all off, I played cute and wore sandals only to get a piece of glass in my heel.

When I was finally able to hobble over to one of the ‘security’ girls to ask where the advertised ‘medic’ was, she proceeded to put my on the unadvertised but greatly appreciated cool-down truck! She came back in about 30 min with some white oak and paper towels! LOL.. Guess there was no medic, but God bless Foxy and his maxi taxi!! Needless to say my Monday was cut short L Now on to Tuesday.. I stayed out whole night on Monday and had no sleep before my 4:30am make-up appt. We decided to go with Kiola Toussaint of Comesticon. Thanks for the link Saucy! I arrived around 4:45am to find that there were 2 people ahead my group! But we were each seen promptly each by a different assistants for our eye make-up.

I liked my girl’s style- she def hooked me up! Ms. Kiola herself then applied our airbrush make-up, which I absolutely loved. Then it was on to a next assistant for the rhinestone application, which I was very disappointed in. I told the young lady what I wanted and got something totally different, which I did for Labor Day and did not like. But I guess I look for that, bcuz I was falling asleep as she was doing it. Also they needed a better variety of colors and shapes for the rhinestones. Nevertheless, we all left looking hott and rushed home to eat and put on our mas. We arrived back by the Twin Towers (our meeting point) around 7:30am, to see that the band had already left! So we spent a good hour searching all over town for Legacy! When we finally found the band they had already crossed the first stage. So that alone had me in a sour mood! However, easy access to the drink truck made everything all better! We chipped for awhile in the blazing sun before some rain started to trickle down.. But that was no scene for De Dutty Crew!! It was almost like the rain got them more hype!!

However, being fatigued put a damper on my day! Then after the periods of rain and burning sun, I was all done! After a decent lunch of rice, macaroni pie, stew peas, and ?baked? chicken, I confined myself to the cool-down truck where I stayed for over five hours!! Hey, I needed to rest! I got out for the last lap, which was the best part of my Legacy experience.

Overall, I would give Legacy a B+ but I doubt I’ll be returning next year. I did not recall seeing any Legacy photographers on either day, so I am anxious to see anyone’s pics!

Big Up Yuhself Saucy,
Alyca aka Mz No Behavior

Kaotic Review.

As 2009 was becoming the year of expensiveness i.e. flight, Accommodation and the current Exchange rates my people this year felt it was a good idea to cut back on how much we pay for our costumes, initially we were going to play with SPICE but then later decided to go with KAOTIC price and recommendations factored into this………. After looking over the costumes and initially deciding to go with either Emerald Viper or Hot Oil we decided Hot Oil was the stronger choice thank god for that as we later learned Emerald Viper was removed.

Booking the costumes was a breeze and paid via Western Union! I had almost weekly calls and updates from the section leader Adrian Howell which was nice and was constantly letting us know what events and promotions were going on. Now I cant grumble too mush as my costume was practically free but I had approx 15 people booked into the section too who paid their full money and also one girl who played in Copia………….

Upon arrival in Trinidad on 10th Feb we decided we would go to the camp and settle up our balances the next day, upon arrival at the Mas Camp we were greeted by these two bubbly bachanalists I think their names were Zitzy and Ferlone two great assets and very attentive they processed our balances offered us drinks and entertained us! I then put across the question in hand “when do we collect our costumes”? “Err” responded one of the girls I think the management will be putting this out to the members on Monday 16th, check the news papers she also stated.

So Monday came I browsed the papers and saw nothing so I rang the camp and they responded “nothing has been set in stone and god willing we will call you as soon as we have the info” so Wed 18th came and I had a call from the camp “hi just to let you know you can collect your costumes from 12 noon tomorrow Thurs 19th at the Mas Camp” great I responded see you there! This was cool with me as it still gave me enough time to make amendments to the costumes and add some bling!.

Thursday came and just before 12 noon I had a call from the camp “hi im sorry we are just letting you know that the costumes will not be ready today and will be ready for collection on Friday at the same time!” by this time I was becoming a little irate and hot headed but I still managed to empathise with the lady on the phone and went along with it. So I head to the camp on Friday only to be told once again costumes are not ready! My head was really starting to steam by now, I asked where are the costumes and what is going on? The lady replied they are still at the production manager’s workshop (RICARDO GOMEZ) and that they would deliver the females to us in a few hours! But the males still have no Board Shorts and are incomplete until they receive them, I was like ok fine as long as I get the ladies today so I can start working on them I can work with that!

The time came when the costumes should have been delivered and were not by this time I was fuming, I rang the section leader and insisted he get the costumes to me ASAP he stated that they are ready but are at the production house I asked him if I could get the number for Ricardo and collect them from there myself? So he gave me his number!

My first attempt at calling this Ricardo I got his voicemail and left a message for him to call me back, 10 minutes later I received a call back from him, “hi Paul this is Ricardo” hi I responded “I would just like to let you know your costumes are looking stunning and are of high quality, they are ready and we promise we will deliver all of them to you by tomorrow noon” I was not happy with this but just went with it again I was not feeling Ricardo’s attitude as it seemed really anal retentive, he passed me over to his assistant to take my address……………… just before noon on Sat I received a call from his assistant telling me the costumes will be ready to collect from the camp at 3pm I was like hang on im sure you guys are meant to be delivering them here by noon she replied “oh you did want them delivered?” I was like I had a conversation with yourself and Ricardo to that effect yesterday she responds “oh did you? I don’t remember, I don’t know” , I was like you know what I aint got time for this tell me where the costumes are now and I will collect them, she tells me the address and I had to laugh as it was on Ana St one street away from the camp.

Me and my people jumped in the car and were at the house within 30 mins, I walk up the stairs and knock on the door a lady I think the assistant opened the door, my eyes could not stop wondering around the place whilst I put across who I was and was here to collect the costumes! My god I thought I could see whole sections still being produced from scratch and I could also see my friends section Copia in an incomplete state. I was handed only the girls costumes and I started to first examine the headdresses and I was in shock they looked nothing like the prototype and besides that were a total different yellow, I then opened the boxes to examine the belts and bras etc my word yet more changes there were things missing all over the place my blood was boiling by now! Especially as I still don’t have the male costumes and there was a lot of them to collect. I just picked up the boxes and headed over to the Mas Camp to sort this mess out!

Slightly off topic but relevant to this as you guys know I make Mas in the UK and prior to collecting my costumes I was in Jimmy Aboud in town now I fast bad I was purchasing the beads to add to the girls belts for Hot Oil and was told by the girl in the shop she only had these ones but they were put aside for someone I responded I only need 5yds the box was full of cards of the beads and also other braids used on Hot Oil I asked if they were for the Hot Oil Section and she responded yes that Ricardo was coming to collect them! Picture this on Thurs she telling me this and this left problem less than a week for him to produce all them costumes…………….!

Amway back to the mas camp we went not only to fins out what has happened to the costumes but where the males are still!, when we arrived inside I was greeted by a mature guy I cant remember his name but I know he is a director or something of Kaotic I pulled out the costumes and the first thing he said “is that Hot Oil?” yes I laughed that said it all for me if he could not make sense of it luckily the costumes were still on display and I could compare the belts, they were missing a bead trim on the top and bottom edge and also stones, the backing they used were not sewn but simply 1” elastic yes you read right the belts we based on elastic, not only that the back part of the belt had Velcro attached and the simply left the hook side on it un attached for the front, the fronts of the belts were all the same size which meant you had to cut them down yourself and stick the other Velcro on! Reminds me of the year my friends played with Legacy!

Cutting a whole set of drama out as I vowed never to go there again we finally got a $2000tt refund which I spent half of on beads, trimmings, feathers etc to make the costumes workable, and so left with the costumes Sunday we finally got our men’s costumes which were pretty much to design!

Re my friends Copia costume she finally got it on Carnival Sat and it was a mess I mean literally she ended up with the one off the mannequin as the one she received looked nothing and I mean nothing like the prototype! She also got a $900tt refund.

I learned and witnessed a lot of issues and badness on the production side of Kaotic
With the exception of Viva La Vida, Aqua Abyss and Horizon Produced privately and were distributed on time, Hot Oil, Beau Jalais, Romance, Extreme Fury, Déjà vu, Copia and Heavenly Passions which were all produced by Ricardo Gomez and to be honest looked a hot mess! The quality was ridiculous, not one section reflected the prototypes I even saw headdresses made out of Card board that did not stand up to the rain. As you all know 2 sections didn’t make it into production but the black section Mystical Freedom was still billed to be on de road but was pulled last minute due to it not being produced I witnessed the section leader for that section almost in tears!! I was also told that Ricardo Gomez was a weak link from the band Evolution and was responsible for similar issues last year concerning costume production! I would ah drop him like hot coal in fact never of risked taking him on.

The on de road experience was a real family vibe and full of people not frightened to have a good time or buss ah sweat and although we had so many issues I had a great time on the road and I big up Adrian Howell for treating us well and making sure we were looked after! If they get rid of Ricardo and sort out the production issues they will be a cool band and I will defo play with them again………….

Harts Review

I hate to say it but my first carnival experince was a bit of a disappointment.

Hubby and I signed up with Harts, mainly because he played with them in 2007 and a lot of our friends were playing with them. I ordered our costumes online picking the Vayu section mainly because it had funky matching headpieces for both boys and girls. The online system was really good and I have to admit I was suprised to find that they had our sizes and details correct when I got over here in December.

The system for picking up the costumes wasnt really that straightforward and rushing out in my lunch break wasnt the best move as when i finally got home and tried everything on I found out that several bits were missing and the only bit that fitted me were the arm and leg cuffs! Thinking I must have lost a huge amount of weight in the last few months, I measured myself again... nope, still the same size.. WTF? I went back the next day to try and get it sorted and was told that only the belt could be adjusted and I should have checked everything when i picked it up, I paid $3200 for this, it all got too much for me and I simply burst into tears at the mas camp. Thank you so much to the ladies who helped me out, almost bullying the guys at the desk until they found the missing parts of my costume for me. Still the next 3 days were spent buying a white bikini that fitted me and sewing the bits of the costume onto that. Luckily when hubby turned up his
costume fitted but even he got handy with the needle and thread sewing soft felt around his neckpiece to make sure he didnt get decapitated by the razor-wire like trim.

On a high after Jouvert, we then stood still, ok, so we did move a bit, really slowly, taking over an hour to get along Tragerete on Monday morning. With the band getting stormed by jouvert leftovers still covered in mud and a really rubbish atmosphere. We were there for a 2 hours, then we walked home, bored.

Starting early on Tuesday I got my makeup done down in Belmont and we planned to join the band as the went up Charlotte st to the savannah, little did we know that they did a short-cut up Tragerete and had already passed the savannah by 7.30! We missed it. We joined the fellow lost people looking for their band for the next hour. When we caught up with them on Arapita the band was simply a compressed mash up of teenagers, extremely drunk tourists and stormers. The atmosphere was horrible with lots of pushing and shoving, shouted insults, unwanted groping, and no security to be seen. This didnt feel like the 'band that plays mas for fun' to us. We finally gave up when our drinks truck refused to serve hubby because 'he a white boy', oh come on... over half the band are white boys, and they had been hapily serving us for the previous couple of hours? All this and the rain to top it off meant that we again left early. As we travelled home my funky headpiece
fell apart. $3200 well spent, NOT.

To all the other vagrants who had lost their bands and danced along having a good time with us, thank you, you made our day.
To Harts, we will not be playing with you again.

Wee International Review

I Played with wee international and i must say i was very impressed with the band. They numbered probably 800+ masqueraders who knew how to have a good time.

Well done Wee International!!!

See you in 2k10

Pulse 8 Review

Carnival Tuesday with Pulse 8


Voluptuous Masquerader

Costume – although my section was not initially my first choice, I think Pulse 8’s production team did an excellent job with my costume. Since my bra is a hard to fit size, I had a custom made tankini with a bra built right into it. I must say I was quite pleased with the fit and comfort of my tankini, which in past years has proven to be a problem for me. And if the girls are not comfortable on the road, it can kill a carnival experience for a top heavy woman. I was very comfortable on the road and my girls stayed in place and did not knock me out as jumped up. With the exception of one diamante falling off my bra, I found the costume to be well constructed and stayed intact all day.

( My bra )

Food and Drinks – Due to a stomach bug which found me quite shaky and unable to hold down any food on Monday, I did not partake of the food on the road on Tuesday. My husband, not one to let food go to waste, was on the scene to take up my slack. There were sandwiches, fruits, and doubles available for breakfast on Tuesday. Throughout the course of the day, I saw an array of foods being served on trays by young men and women. From what appeared to be Chinese chicken wings, curried chicken breast chunks, geera meat (was not sure if it was pork or chicken), and all manner of preserves from red peppered mango to salt prunes, and tamarind balls, there seemed to be quite an assortment, which were eagerly devoured by the people in my crew. Lunch was served kind of late in the day after we crossed the stage in the savannah, but no one appeared to be starving since the snacks has been plentiful. The band took a rest in Siegert Square, which was nice and clean. There were tents, tables, and chairs set upm in addition to the regular park benches. Although there were not enough to accomodate the entire band, I thought this was a nice touch. There was also a “sober station” for those who needed to take a pause from the alcohol frenzy. The sober station provided, water, soft drinks, fruit juices, and maltas. There was also a make up refreshing station complete with lightening and mirrors. The food was served from tents and there was a choice of BBQ, Creole, Chinese, and Vegetarian. My husband took both of our chits to get in line, while my friend and I found a nice shady spot. Hubby returned promptly, so there was no long wait in lines. He had decided on BBQ, and deemed the Chicken, rice, lentil, salad, and macaroni pie washed down with a Malta to be quite tasty and satisfying.

(Band resting in Seigert Square)

From a tea totallers perspective, I can attest that the bar was very good. It was never overly crowned, except for when they announced the drink trucks would leave us at the savannah so we could cross the stage. At this time, everyone made a mad rush to the trucks to get their last bottle of water, drink of rum, etc before crossing the stage. Outside of this occasion, the drinks truck was very accessible with no pushing and shoving to wet your whistle. Being that I was operating on a sick stomach, I only partook of water and ginger ale on the road. Also, throughout the day as the cutters and snacks were being served, there were also what appeared to be “shots” being offered on trays as well. I saw what looked like jello shots, to what I know where tequila shots, because my friends were happily sucking those down every time a tray passed their way. LOL. In addition to the drinks trucks, there was a cart which was being pushed by men between the first and second music trucks. From what I could observe, this was for the really hard drinkers. I saw a lot of coconut water being mixed with what looked like the hard stuff like Black Label.

( Drinks Truck - )

Music - There were 3 DJ Trucks which I think was a great number for a band of Pulse 8’s size. There was an estimated 1500-1800 Masqueraders in the band on Carnival Tuesday. The first Truck was DJ Switch, The second truck was Richard Simply Smooth, and I think there were several different DJ’s, whose names I cannot remember, bringing up the rear on the third truck. Each DJ had a slightly different style, and since this was a “roam whey ya want” band, a person could take their pick of what they wanted to hear. They had Oscar B on one of trucks to hype the crowd. I think he is a local DJ from Tobago. He kept the crowd hyped and entertained, especially his fascination with Chinese men. We had a “wine a Chinee Man” session where he encouraged women to jump out of the band onto the side walks and grab a chinee man to wine on. That was super fun. That poor lil Chinese man I backed back on could not have looked more shell shocked if Michelle Obama had come to take a wine on him. LOL. Right as we were crossing the stage, Oscar B spotted a young Chinese man in the crowd on the side who was pelting waist in a major way. They bought this young man up on the truck, nicknamed him “Chinee Machel” and let him put on a wining show of his very own, which not only got the masqueraders in a great mood full of laughs, but encouraged us to get on even badder that we already were.

(Dj Truck - )

Customer Service - Due to a little glitch with me arriving into Trinidad so late, at the beginning of the route, I was without s head piece, which I was told would be delivered to me first thing Tuesday morning. Now I have heard that Meg Cheekes, the owner of Pulse 8, is the raging control freak. Well let me say this… Big up to the raging control freaks, because her reportedly anal ways certainly paid off for the masqueraders who played in this band. My first contact with Ms. Cheekes came as I saw her walking through the band with the head piece from my section in her hand as if she was looking for someone. I walked up to her and asked was that head piece for me. Once I identified her, she apologized and told me she was hand delivering this head piece herself. That was a very nice touch. Throughout the course of the day, I saw this woman everywhere… from directing traffic with the vehicle management team, to yanking on a rope with the rope pullers, to serving on the drinks trucks, and buffin up security guys who were not as alert as she felt they needed to be. But this direct involvement by the boss lady apparently paid off, because from food distribution to security, everything ran quite smoothly.

( Meg Cheekes - )

Security – In a nutshell…. Excellent! I felt very safe. Security was very nice and polite to the masqueraders, but very no nonsense when it came to doing their jobs. There was on incident where a man who not a masquerader and was quite inebriated refused to leave the band. I think security must have had a two count rule. Twice, they asked him very politely to step outside of the rope. He proceeded to give trouble and a lot of smart talk. Without second thought, security quite nicely and quietly “tossed” him over the rope without disturbing the jammishness that was taking place amongst the masqueraders.

( Bouncers and Rope Pullers)

Additional Services - There was a well stocked ambulance to the back of the band in case anyone fell ill, and they also provided basic first aide for bumps and bruised that people got while on the road. One of the guys from my party got a scrape on his finger, and they cleaned it up and put a band aide on it and sent him on his way. There was also the “weak-knee” truck, which was an air conditioned limo bus that traveled with the band. That was a nice touch

Overall – I had a great time in Pulse 8. Even though I was kind of green around the gills on Monday and just barely plugged along, Tuesday was a stellar day for me in every sense of the word. The age range of the masqueraders was very diverse, and so were the winin styles. My eyes experienced everything from the down and dirty crotch in your face wine, to the more stoosh types giving very polite social wines, and everything in between. There was something for everyone in this band, and from the teenager to the grandma. If one is looking for good customer service, safety, and above all else a dam good time, then Pulse 8 should be a viable option when you do your carnival shopping for 2010. Pulse 8 gets 2 thumbs up!!

( General Pics of Masqueraders on the Road)

Trini Revellers - Rugeri Review

Hi Saucy,

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to write about our carnival experience. Mine was nothing but excellent! My experience began in March 2008 when I started religiously reading your blog every day. I also booked my flight at that time hoping to benefit from a lower airfare, but in the end I didn’t save that much – my luck. I also reserved my room at the Hyatt in March and I was not required to pay a deposit or in full. In the end I canceled at the Hyatt (without a penalty) and booked at the Hilton just a few weeks before Carnival, the rates were cheaper and the location better, in my opinion.

After reading your review of Rugeri Promotions launch, I contacted them and a couple months later registered in their Chutney section of Trini Revellers. As a reader of your blog it felt like everyone was playing in Tribe or IP. When I arrived at the Hilton, that was also confirmed, all the guests I spoke to were playing in Tribe! I was very worried. But I figured, my friend and I will make the best of it. In the end, the choice was best for me. Rugeri was excellent. The ‘girls’ needed special attention and so I shipped my bra to be sure they were housed properly. That worked out well and my top was ready when I arrived in Trinidad. When I picked up my costume, my belt need to be a bit bigger. And how fantastic, they were happy to adjust it and deliver it to my hotel. During the parade on Monday and Tuesday we were asked several times if we were having fun. And of course, the answer was yes! I’m confident that if we had an issue they would have done their best to rectify it. Great customer service and a huge part of my positive experience! People there are more bands than Tribe and IP! No, I didn’t have washrooms, a cooling zone or bus, but I survived. And at the risk of revealing my age, it was not something I had when I played mas when I was younger. More importantly, the drinks flowed all day on both days!

I didn’t want to be up at 5 am to do my make up on Carnival Tuesday so, again, thanks to you, I saw your post about custom make up by Melissa Deane and I chose this route. Sadly, we didn’t give ourselves enough time to really do a good job on the make up. Next year - I’m up at 5 am.

I also had a custom bag by Mimi. It looked great, but a few gems fell off and some of the braiding started to come off. I’m so glad that I only used the bag on Tuesday, because I’m not sure it would have survived both days.

I played Jouvert with Yellow Devils and that too was great. I didn’t think that I could consume alcohol that early in the morning, but when in Rome ... The washroom break was in an open lot. Need I say more?

As for fetes – we attended Tribe Thursday, Girl Power, Insomnia and Moka Explosion. All were great. If I had to pick a favourite of these 4, it would be hard. The only negative would be that it’s not worth getting VIP tickets for Insomnia. Also, KES were at 3 of the 4 fetes and their performance (and banter) was exactly the same each time. My luck, again.

As I write this I’m still recovering, but I’ll be back next year!

Mc Farlane Review

Hi Saucy.

I have enjoyed your blog for the past two years. Since most of the supporters of your website seem to be die-hard Tribe and Island People fans, I wanted to provide some feedback on my experience with Brian Mac Farlane's band. This was my first year playing with the band, and the comments I provide below reflect the experience of me and my friends. Obviously, others who played with his band might think differently.

-Grade: D

-Comments: Absolutely horrific. This band has A LOT to learn in terms of logistics. The powers-that-be at Mac Farlane never publicly announced the distribution schedule. In fact, I found out about costume distribution via your blog!!! Once I arrived at the mas camp, it was utter chaos. Staff were assembling costumes as people arrived; NOTHING was pre-assembled. I got through the process in about 2 hours. However, I encountered people who had been waiting 4 or 5 hours and still did not have their costumes in hand. Fortunately, it wasn't raining heavily while I was at the mas camp. I feel sorry for those who were there while it was pouring, as one had to wait and collect costumes outside, with little or no shelter.

-Grade: C-
-Comments: As a newcomer to the band, I was struck by the elitist/cliquish vibe when I visited the mas camp. The staff appeared unapologetic about the lack of order and organization, and I got an implicit message that you are "lucky" to be playing with their band.

I also encountered some staff who appeared to be on "costume patrol" at the start of Carnival Tuesday. This rubbed me the wrong way because I am an adult and can decide whether or not to omit or modify any part of the costume once I've paid meh money! Thus, I paid them no mind. :-)

-Grade: C
-Comments: Too expensive, and I did not feel like I got value for my hard-earned money. It is worth noting that the band is NOT all-inclusive. In my opinion, you are paying a "king's ransom"to be able to a) say that you have played with the Band of the Year and/or b) pursue an alternative to bikini mas.

-Grade: B-/C+

-Comments: Monday wear entailed two long pieces of fabric (in earth tones) which you could wear as you wish. That was wonderful, and people did some very creative and lovely things with their allotted fabric.

Re: Tuesday wear, I really have a problem registering with a section based solely on a sketch. Some of the actual costumes (including my own!) did NOT resemble the sketches. In truth, some of the costumes looked absolutely outstanding in real life, although many seemed very impractical to wear on the road. In general, one is definitely choosing appearance over function with Mac Farlane. Notably, masqueraders were NOT given written instructions on how to assemble their costume (particularly problematic for sections with very intricate costumes). Fortunately, my costume was quite comfortable, although it did nothing for me aesthetically. There were elements of my actual costume that I absolutely hated.

In spite of all the above, I think Mac Farlane presents some amazing costume options for men that they obviously wouldn't have with other bands.

-Grade: B-/C+

-Comments: Unlike the Mac Farlane staff, I found the masqueraders to be relatively friendly and fun loving. It was absolutely refreshing to see such a diverse set of masqueraders (ages, ethnicities, orientations). I am a thirty-something masquerader with the energy of an 18 year old, and the pace on the road was MUCH SLOWER than I would've liked. Unfortunately, the vibe is not a "let loose" vibe. The revellers tended to be older than say, Tribe's or Island People's, although Mac Farlane definitely had some young masqueraders. The band also has a nice vibe for couples--I saw lots of them (both young and old) on the road.

As mentioned earlier, this is not an all-inclusive band. We only had "free" access to water, soft drinks, Heineken, Green Sands, and Fruta on the road. There were two DJ trucks, Laventille Rhythm Section, and one live band (Surface). I did not see a "wee wee truck" for the band.

In keeping with the theme of Africa, Tony Prescott (of Surface) wrote a song called "Out of Africa" especially for the band. He actually performed it live multiple times on the road on Monday. It is a fabulous song, and it was an exhilarating experience to hear that song play as we approached the judging points on Monday and Tuesday. Some sections, including my own, choreographed simple dance moves when they crossed the stage. That was AMAZING. It was also great to see and feel the fabulous reactions by spectators as the band chipped down the road. I sensed a real public appreciation for Mac Farlane's brand of mas.

Unfortunately, some spectators were a bit too zealous in their desire to partake of the Mac Farlane experience. Security left much to be desired, particularly as evening approached on Tuesday, when non-masqueraders started storming the band en route to the Savannah. Some security personnel did little or nothing when masqueraders sought their assistance to remove certain non-masqueraders from the band.

In sum, I am happy that I gave Mac Farlane a try. It was nice not having to worry about feathers or beads, for once. However, I have no intention of playing with the band next year. There were aspects of my experience that resonated--both positively and negatively--with me. Mac Farlane clearly fills a niche as an alternative to bikini mas. However, the band will need to address major deficiencies before it'll see me as a repeat customer in the future.

Island People Reviews

Today I will be sharing with you the reviews sent in by readers of the blog of the various bands they played with for carnival, starting with Island People. On that note you should also visit Afro Chic for her review on playing with Island People as well;

I am an avid reader of your blog, and I admire your tireless efforts in blogging about our Carnival. It is indeed the ‘greatest show on earth’. However, as a masquerader who has played with bands such as Poison, Legacy, TRIBE and Island People, I feel it is imperative to write about my 2009 experience. Your blog represents the truth, and what I have to say is as such.

I will not go into detail about my horrid registration process with Island People. I think that topic has been rehashed by other bloggers. But this year was my third time playing mas with them; indeed registration was as chaotic as the costume payment and collection, and it mirrored what happened on the road.

I live abroad; therefore, Friday afternoon was the only time I had in order to pay my balance, and to collect the costume. Friends and I arrived at the stadium at approximately 2:30pm, and to our horror, the line had already made a bend around the gate. There were at least 150- 200 people in line ahead of us to pay, and the so-called line adjacent to ours to collect costumes was just as long; however, in that line, people were all crowded around the collection desk. It was a free for all – who get to the counter first was served. Pure madness.

We purposed to be patient, and tried to make a small lime out of it, being friendly and chatting with people in the line behind us. By about 4:00 pm, IP staffers were handing out bottles of water, which was much appreciated. There was free (hot) Stag available, as well as pineapple chow and juice on sale (why wasn’t it vice versa? hmmm…). My friends and I arrived to the payment counter eventually...(let's just say it was dark outside after payment was made), where there were only 6 flustered cashiers, and at that point the situation grew worse. There was a couple at the back of the line, an East Indian girl in the Natural Mystic section, and an Afro Trini young man. They somehow got the security guard to allow them to skip about 20 persons to get ahead, including 2 young ladies near me who were exhausted from holding their babies, so as they were resting on the table, the said couple bravely jumped in front of the young mothers, stating they were holding up the line. Mind you, these 2 mothers were from Barbados I think they said, so their welcome to Trinidad was definitely soured. There were many other foreigners who witnessed this event, much to my shame as a Trinidadian. These 2 skippers really let me down. Worse, the security guard then made his way to the front of the line in order to allow the ‘skipping couple’ to go ahead and pay; that is when the ruction start! There was a young lady who was quite upset at this move, a frequent IP masquerader I am told, and I’m uncertain what happened next but the security guard grabbed this lady by her wrist, yanked her out of the line in order for the skippers to pay, and threatened to have her arrested because she was the most vocal against the skippers. It was a shameful event as IP staffers could not control the fracas and began a shouting match with the lady who was vocal. Meanwhile, the skippers quietly paid their money and glided outside with grins on their faces and receipts in hand.

Needless to say, my friends and I still went ahead to pay off our balance and then collect our costumes. As I said earlier, there wasn’t really a line per se…we left the stadium at around 7:00 pm, exhausted from the bacchanal that just occurred. IP also gave me the incorrect size, and I was told by a staff member to return on Sunday for an exchange.

I arrived on Sunday at 10:30 am, (we were told to come at 11:00) and again there was a long line of about 100 people. IP had not opened the gate at this point, and when they finally did, they were only allowing about 10-15 people who could squeeze to the front inside. I’d had enough at this point and was ready to sell my costume right there! After paying $3295 hard earned dollars for the costume, not to mention my plane ticket and hotel, this was totally unacceptable. I decided to go home, rest, and in the end I altered my costume by hand.

To my dismay, on the road, there were stormers upon stormers, especially around the Queen’s Park Savannah. Security was non existent for much of the day. There was a group of girls who were no more than 12 years old who all trampled me in order to chip near truck #3. I am quite petite, and instead of putting up a fight, I just decided to go home. This was my absolute worst experience playing mass. The food (all the way at the back of the band) was horrible…dog rice and cold soya chunks…Lucozade was finished by 10:00 am. My day on Tuesday just kept getting worse and worse. People have had negative things to say about the demographics of Legacy and TRIBE, but my experience with them in the past was certainly much more enjoyable; that’s where there are people with CLASS!!!

On a positive note, I honestly loved the beadwork on my costume, despite the fact I had to alter it myself in the hotel after a mad dash to Samaroos. I will not play with Island People ever again, and for those who choose to, I respect that decision, but I think people should DEMAND that the organizers address certain issues to ensure masqueraders’ safety and comfort- within their control. There will always be hiccups on the road, but Saucy this was definitely not a representation of “island people”, nor the “greatest show on earth”. I am not thinking of getting a refund of any sort (PLEASE!! that ain’t happening). I’m just a very patriotic Trinidadian who lives abroad, and I am ashamed that anyone, especially a foreigner, could experience this in the future. I guess this is my caveat emptor.

I hope that IP can make a greater effort by taking steps such as having costume collection a week earlier, and a designated day for foreign masqueraders. Also, they could hire more persons/cashiers to assist with payment, rather than having so little to handle such a huge crowd, which would obviously stress their staff members out. Try a different security firm. This guard was totally out of line (no pun intended). Finally, I know stormers will storm every band, but this year was totally insane as many times I had to fight for a position to chip in my section against persons who clearly wanted to storm as they please. That is not fair to the person forking out $3295!!!! It’s just not right!!!

Ashamed at IP.

2k9 was the worst carnival for me. I have been a founding member of IP mas b4 it was even IP mas ( from Poison days).

After spending over 3hrs in line when I went to collect my fiance's costume, I was physically assaulted by a SWAT Security guard in the cashiers room in full view of everyone present. THIS IS NOW A POLICE MATTER!!

When you are in section 2 how the f**K they expect you to walk all the way to the back of the band to get food. I still have our food chits from both days.

I played with wings this yr and I had to fight for space on the road as there was many stormers.

When my fiance and I spend almost $8000.00 together on our costumes the least we expect is good f**king service from start to finish.

IP when you advertise something and people pay for that. It is your right to provide all that was advertised, once we pay you our money a Contact is formed!!

Hi Saucy,

I had my first experience with playing with IP. They did not make a very good impression on me, however I had a good time regardless. I played with the section Rays of Light, so I had drama getting my costume in the first place, but when I got it and tried it on, it was perfect in every way. I loved it. I was just a little scared of the experience on Monday and Tuesday because of the horror stories I've heard about them. My friends and I were a bit tardy regarding Mas registration so we didn't get into Tribe who we have played with since their inception, so we decided to give IP a chance.

They got off to an early start, left on time both days which I was happy for. Breakfast, drinks and lunch were delivered on time and as promised. I was satisfied with most of it however, trying to get food along with 100 other ppl from a moving truck is pressure, I hated that experience. I eventually gave up on Monday and went to the snack truck and took a plate (with pies, chicken legs, sandwiches etc.) instead of the food, good thing I had a heavy breakfast. Tuesday was much better even though the rain was a bit annoying, I had no other problems foodwise.

Everything seemed ok to me with the exception of the lack in security and the number of stormers. I also did not know when I crossed the stage as wierd as it may seem. Everyone was all over the place, there was no real sectioning at all. This annoyed me because that is what I really look forward to every year. Also, there was no distinction regarding front and backliners, everyone was together....all the time...even on stage. They prompted masqueraders one or two times but no one listened really. Also, there was no music truck with us on stage, so people practically walked across the stage, while the commentator begged for a music truck for us (sigh).

Overall, I had a good time due to my friends and family playing, however to me the band had no vibe. When I looked at the video done on, it was clear that IP was just really quiet and docile compared to the other bands.

I can't say I will play with them next year, but we will see how that goes.

Oh, and I attached a picture of me in my costume :)

IP Masquerader.


Ok....So I had paid for my costume by the end of January so I actually got fast tracked but even that woudlnt have mattered on the day I collected my costume. I expected some form of a wait when I reached Monday morning at 4 but I was totally suprised when I reached and in less than 5 minutes I had my costume in hand and was walking out to my car.

I was too too happy!!!

HOWEVER, by Friday when I went with another friend to pick up her costume I was horrified to meet a SUPER long line snaking its way out of the cashier office in the freaking sun no less!!! I managed to walk past the line to try to get a sense of what the pick up counter was looking like and was just as appauled to see that the lines had brocken down and it seemed like a free for all!

I met another friend who had been there long before us and yet was still there and even when he got into the pick up line only got his costume about an hour later! Thankfully my friend who i came with got her costume much faster (because she is very forward and finds ways around things).

While there I did notice a trend of people not being totally happy about their costumes....they either found that the headpiece was smaller or had less feathers.....I was happy I had none of those problems as I had no feathers or head piece for my costume!

What I couldnt understand however was why people waited so long to collect their costumes? I heard that from Monday to Thursday there were very little people there but Friday was a complete mess.

However with our costumes we could then concentrate on the weekend’s parties and looking forward to mas on the road.

I didnt play jouvert so I got up somewhat early and headed out to meet the band....we just missed the opporunity to jump up at the first judging point on the avenue but it was all good. We grabbed drinks and joined right in. We enjoyed ourselves till we got to around globe cinema when we realised that alot of people who we dont think should have been in the band were right in the thick of things. It was the first of many signs that security was a little lax.

We enjoyed ourselves none the less as we chipped to downtown port of spain and it was then it became apparent to me who this band was loyal to me as ‘Wild Ants’ magically appeared on the sound system once we approached the stage even though people were clamouring for some ‘Bachannal’. One of my girlfriends did not care for the song at all and so she did the ‘bad man dance’ everytime it came on (re: standing up with arms folded).

We then quickly went up to charlotte street and we realised food was being served.....problem was that it was being served on the go.....and I mea really on the go. People literally were running after the food truck and we joked it had to have been ‘fast food’. I actually followed some people by standing on one of the rungs of the truck and holding on because it was getting tiring running after a truck just to get food.

We even had to walk and eat as we didnt want to get left behind.

Now, I am not much of a food person during carnival time....a few bites is all i need or care for as i hate to jump up and down with a super full stomach. However I would rather that what little I do consume be tasty and I could not really say that for the was just.....’edible’!

So we then progressed to the ‘savannah stage’ very quickly and and the experience of ‘crossing’ was over all to quickly and before we knew it we were already approaching qrc....and then I realised that the trucks were moving a lil too fast for comfort. We came to a stop once we got to qrc though.....just long enough for us to catch our breath and lie down for about half an hour. We made the mistake to approach the bar which was being swamped with people and i think were being restocked as they had very little of what any of my friends wanted to drink. (No redbull????? What????)

We then made our way back to the stadium just after nightfall and stayed long enough for the trucks to park so that we would have clear path to leave and go home.

Tueday my friends and i woke up early for preparations and pictures but still managed to make it to the stadium later than we would have liked....which resulted in the band once again being gone. We didnt use the shuttle on the Monday but we felt it proudent to this time.....only problem was it was taking its cool time to get there. We walked a little distance and it finally came and we reached to the band just in time for the rain to start pouring on us. We hid for cover as none of us wanted to meet the band already drenched but were very surpised to see the band leaving us well behind not caring that people would have to be drenched to keep up that hour in the morning.

I realise they have a schedule to keep but DAAAYYYUMMM....slow your roll just a tad why dont you? We caught up to them jsut after the second judging point and oddly enough we had a long wait by blode for some unknown reason....and we slowed down again by the library when here was another small downpour.

The biggest blast of rain came however just before the downtown judging point which was a shame because by the time the sun came out and we were crossing people had either discarded there head pieces or they looked god awfull.....I immediately could tell who had either totally managed to hide from the rain or had used fletch powder on their feathers or something just as effective. We still enjoyed ourselves crossing the stage and this time i did see machel on the truck signaling them to run his track. My friends didnt care at this point and danced with ants in our pants all the same......the brainswashing was complete.

We then once again walked in the rain up fredrick street. Lost some friends who refused to walk in the rain but some others managed to get lunch from the lunch truck and some girlfriend of mine took pity on me as i clearly looked hungry and fed me some soggy food.

We were once again held up on park street and on charlotte street for some time. Whe we finally made it to the savannah I realised that the sections were not lined up properly so I took advantage to just run amock and have fun.

However once we passed the ‘savannah stage’ the real problems friends couldnt get anything to eat...real stragglers enetered the band and the trucks in general started moving like if we were in a race for something. We deviated from the route i thought we would take and ended up going to the round about close to elerslie and turning down and then being stuck for sometime crossing by a park....

By that time my friends couldnt take it anymore and left the band to head down to roxy to secure some food of our own but not before we saw one of the band leader themselves trying to usher out stragglers out of the band to no avail. We got food from some venndors and while I wanted to once again rejoin the band my friends decided to wait for the trucks at the stadium to see if they would once again have ann after party. We soon realised this wasnt the case and so we tried to put our tired feet up for a little bit.

20 mins later we tried to leave the stadium only to find a horrible traffic jam and it took 45 mins to get to the highway. It was thoroughly frustrating but we were happy that we had a great time otherwise.

Our costumes didnt have feather and so they held up well even thorughout the rain (cant say the same about my face paint but i cant blame that on island people). The actually glossy material on the waist bands had some wear from all the bummbers that wined on me and my friends but nothing to make us look too shredded.

All in all our experience was a good one.....if our crew was more centered on food we would have been pissed as most of my crew couldnt find food...and there were no snacks seen being shared as it was last year! The liquor situation was good....although at one point i wondered if the bar people could be more accomodating. The security was good on both mornings but i think faltered on both days after the savannah stage but i am now wondering if this is because it is more than they could ever handle....

Island People should see me again next year god spare life!

Dear Island People,

I am writing to express disappointment in my Carnival 2009 experience with you. I will first list the few positive aspects:

1. The online registration process was easy, fast, and efficient.

2. I received professional customer service when I called to ask questions about my costume.

3. The cashier line moved steadily on Carnival Friday even though the line was long.

4. Paramount security was good at keeping masqueraders away from the wheels of the trucks on Monday and Tuesday.

Here are the negatives that put a damper on my Carnival experience:

1.Costume distribution was very disorganized on Carnival Friday. When my fiance and I stood in "line" for over 4 hours to recieve our costumes. I placed quotation marks around the word line because I am unsure if one existed.

2. My costume- Heavenly Sky- only had one feather on left side of the bra when it should have had feathers on both sides. The attendant at the counter insisted that the bra came with feathers on one side only. In other words, part of my costume was missing at collection.

3. My Heavenly Sky headpiece was poorly made. The beads were falling off at collection. A staff member fixed them at the Distribution Center but they fell right off as I was putting on the headpiece on Carnival Tuesday morning. I also attempted to use shoe laces to keep it on my head because the elastic just didnt cut it. The shoe laces were ineffective. I ended up holding the headpiece in my hand for most of the day.

4. When we arrived at the downtown judging point, while security held back my section (Heavenly Sky- Chapter 2) as Paradisus crossed the stage, Dream (Chapter 4 or 5) was allowed to cross ahead of us. When security realized what was happening, Heavenly Sky masqueraders were told to push through Dream to get to the judging area. Unacceptable.

5. The pelau on Monday was cold and tasteless.

6. The food on Tuesday was cold.

7. Non-masqueraders were allowed to order drinks from the bar.

8. Crossing the "stage" at the savannah was a disaster. Non-masqueraders were allowed to jump in the band. Security was no where to be found.

9. The band got separated after the savannah. Truck 1 and 2 continued on the parade route leaving the rest of the band behind. D Krewe passed through our band, confusing many masqueraders. When the remaining trucks finally started moving they sped off resulting in us running after them.

10. The music shut off suddenly and without explanation on the way to the stadium on Tuesday.

Overall, the service I recieved from Island People Mas was below the standards advertised. I will be playing mas with another band next year.
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