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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

C2K9 Thank you....Journey into 2010

TRIBE's thank you email to their masqueraders:

Thanking you for 2009…….Journeying into 2010
To some, Carnival 2K9 is a distant fond memory of a Rollin’ Road Party. To others, it’s the beginning of a new journey venturing into new and undiscovered lands.

Once again, we would l like to extend our sincere THANK YOU for ‘flocking together’ and bringing our 2009 presentation of “Birds of a Feather” to life on the streets of Port-of-Spain. Without you, our Masqueraders, Sponsors, Service Teams, Volunteers, Committee Members, Family and Friends, we would have never taken flight. We could not have asked for a better 5th anniversary gift than your continued support. It was our pleasure providing you with

The Ultimate Carnival Experience, and hope that our impromptu Las’ Lap was enjoyed by all.
We continue to be an innovative team that appreciates and understands the importance of your feedback, opinions and expectations. TRIBE continues to strive to provide new and exciting ideas and to make every moment, the most memorable.

2010 will be the year of discovery, where we follow a path to find new people, new cultures and new destinations. Our dedicated design team is in full creative mode and have already begun to bring their designs to life, and promises to make the journey well worth it!

Is there creativity in bikini mas?

A masquerader from Brian Mc Farlane’s Africa recently sent me an email disagreeing with one of the reviews that I had posted where the author listed problems that she had with that band for 2009. During our email correspondence this masquerader seemed to intimate that only people who wore “real mas” LOVED mas and that there was no “creativity” in bikini mas. Here is our conversation:

His Response:
I just wanted to respond to the feedback that you got about Macfarlane's presentation Africa for 2009. I disagree with almost everything said. I have been playing with the band since its inception and I had no problems collecting my costume. There was clear communication about how to put it together and as for the impracticalness of his designs...well they are not for Las Vegas showgirls and their male lackeys.

They are meant to be worn by people who love mas and want to preserve our creative culture which is dying unfortunately. The designs are always better than the sketches in my opinion and I think as players we all get excited to inspect the costumes we did not choose. The only thing I can agree with is that there is a great family feel in the band and I see people every year that I am not friends with and we hug and chip happily together and look forward to seeing each other. It is such a great treat that my friend travels from Spain and he is on his third year with the band.

I wish more bands would return to the days of Leung, Garib, Minshall and the like... It would preserve Carnival rather than destroy it with the monotony of replicas of bikini mas in abundance. Sorry to sound frustrated but I love my country and my mas and we all have the right to play where we like - whether it be a bikini or something more elaborate. I look forward to the traditional costumes that the band will be wearing in 2010 though.
My response:
It is interesting that the general thought is only people who appreciate the "art" in mas love mas,. I LOVE all genres of mas, be it the fully clothes, scantily clad and traditional characters as I love the expression that playing mas is interpreted by many. For me there is no one box to tick or one code to adhere to that says Mas should be enjoyed in a particular way, it is all about freedom.

I for one do not see out creativity dying, naturally you are entitled to your opinion on this but I have always seen the ideal of mas being all varieties co existing together. People cannot play only ONE type of mas. That is not growth, it is stagnation and THAT will surely kill the culture.

On that note I think the reinvention of the bikini mas year after year is much more difficult than people give the young designers credit for.
His response:
I think we will agree to disagree re. Your statement 'People cannot play only ONE type of mas. That is not growth, it is stagnation and THAT will surely kill the culture.' I never said one type of mas was what I wanted...I stated that several designers in the past were creative hence my feeling that without a creative lead the art form will assume its new format - beads, bikinis and feathers. I also disagree with your idea that it takes work to design a bikini band.. It is simply changing the colour because it is all 'abstract' as nothing really pertains to the true design I can't remember which band did an Asian theme this year and they simply gave a Japanese style umbrella to its masqueraders in various sections. I laughed when the commentator said they consulted an embassy for accuracy.

I am happy for the bikini band to exist just not dominate as it is now. I think there is no going back as women have decided they want skimpy and men follow. Sadly I think as an example if Tribe, Island People and Harts tried to add to their costumes and make them more elaborate the masqueraders will go elsewhere looking for the almighty bikini.

Macfarlane, Gabriel and the countless others who preserve traditional mas on smaller scales are all we have left and someday they too will be gone - what will we have then?
My response:
Well TRIBE's presentation was more than just the bra and bikini, there was one section with a full skirt option that was worn well by many ladies. Also I have been at the mas camp seeing them make the costumes and it is not easy; lots of little detail, that will be overlooked by those with myopia who lump all bikini bands in the same category. There are some very elaborately decorated costumes in bikini mas and I can tell you that the headpieces, tails and collars that TRIBE did this year as well as materials used in Island People were not simply changing the colour.

We masqueraders can pick up on a recycled costume design so the leaders in that genre do have to come with fresh and innovative designs each year. Unfortunately this is not something that is appreciated by those who do not take the time to study the costumes. I ask you to take a look at TRIBEs costumes this year, headpieces and everything and show me one costume that looks EXACTLY like last year's in a different colour and you can do the same for Island People as well.
His response:
I am really not that interested in looking at their costumes for that long.
My response:
I am sorry you cannot be as interested as many who play bikini mas are interested in Mc Farlane. Anyway for me there will always be room for everyone as I LOVE my carnival!

Now I know that I am obviously biased being someone who is a wholehearted supporter of the bikini, beads and LOTS of feathers (I would say copious but my friend pointed out that I love that word too much). However I honestly do believe that bikini mas DONE RIGHT is creative.

I will agree that there are some bikini bands that slap a generic name on a costume which ends up looking abstract (as was pointed out) and looks nothing like the theme. Similarly, not every band that drapes fabric on their masqueraders can boast creativity as well. Some designers simply use loads of fabric to separate themselves from the bikini mas but how creative is it to keep repeating designs that we were first done by Peter Minshall? Every year someone “reinvents” Tan Tan and Saga Boy!

And I have a big problem with the superior elitist attitude of persons who look down on bikini mas, not even taking the time to acknowledge that there is creativity and that it is not just changing the colour every year. For the ones who examine each and every nuance of the costume, there are differences. There was not one costume in either TRIBE or Island People for 2009 that looked exactly like one from 2008! The headpieces and tails in TRIBE were genius, absolutely gorgeous and when you viewed the band holistically the masqueraders represented the Birds quite well.

There is more I would like to say concerning Mc Farlane and his creativity of turning fabric from Jimmy Aboud into Africa this year; however my issue is not with Mc Farlane or even the domination of bikini mas; I think I summed up all my feelings on that one in my Carnival Castro post last year. Anyway, I pose the question to you; in your opinion is there creativity in “bikini mas”? Or am I the myopic one who is imagining that there is not only creativity but differences as well?
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