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Friday, February 19, 2010

Harts Carnival 2010 Review

Another Carnival has come and gone, and yet another Carnival experience. My heart was set on playing with Spice because the service was great from registration, to collected, to the road experience. However, the whole Pay Pal issue and me having to run down Spice to find out about my registration did not sit well with me; so I made the ultimate decision to change bands. Band of choice: Harts, section of choice: Brazilian Fiesta (Orange). Now I have heard the stories of Harts being uppity, and me with my dark self I was worried. But I always say it is up to the person that to the experience worth while.

I must say registration was an ease. I did mines online since I currently reside in Arkansas. The day after I submitted my registration online, I was contacted via email to confirm that my registration was received and that my selected costume choice was secured. The only thing I did not like was that after the money was withdrawn from my account, a second transaction was done to make up the difference for what was not taken out during the currency conversion. Since it was nothing more that about $14.00, I made no fuss. Anytime I sent Harts an email regarding costume options and remaining balance, I received a prompt reply answering all my questions. Collection was also an ease, paying off my balance and making sure I had everything took about ten minutes. When I saw my costume, I fell in love.....not only was my head piece humongous, but the costume itself was beautiful. My only problem I had with my costume was after having a baby three months prior, my breasts was slightly too large for the bra but I came prepared with some bra that and all was small thing.

The band left promptly from its designated location at 10:30 AM. Music was nice but I did not like the fact that they played each song twice in a row before going on to the other one. I must say that Harts knows how to party, I do now know how these people found they way on top of roofs and walls as any building along the route was subject to be dance on. That one I cannot blame on Harts, as some homeowners were having problems with this. After making circles (yes I said circles) we finally stopped for lunch at the square (sorry I don't know the name of it), and it was every man jack and woman jack for themselves to find a space to sit and eat. I was apart of "D Rum Shop" and the selection for lunch was beef pelau, which just was okay. I am not a big drinker but their selection was some of the best, and the bar never buss. The only thing I could not understand is how you don't have coconut water (the ultimate chaser). The rest of the day was okay, the only thing making it exceptional was the motivation from the crowd, the fact that we circled a block before we moved on was quite irritating and the stopping for long periods of time drained my energy.

By the time I met up with the band they were crossing Park and Frederick Street. We chipped all the way to Queens Park and the only time they started to play palancing music was right before we crossed the "stage." Getting people into their respective sections was a hassle as they did this about 15 minutes before crossing, and it was quite annoying to hear the announcer repeat all 25 sections (with a detailed description of the costume) about six times in an attempt to get everyone situated. After the Savannah it was a free for all, stormers had a time enjoying the experience that I paid for. The route became a drab, and after a while I became quite bored with the band. If it wasn't for the masqueraders who kept the energetic vibe going, I do not think I would have enjoyed myself as much. Lunch on Tuesday was very disorganized, as it took almost half an hour before we could get lunch. It also pissed off to see that people who were not apart of D Rum Shop eating lunch and enjoying drinks that I paid $700.00 for. Another issue that I had was the as the stormers stormed, security selected who the wanted to storm and who they wanted to put out the band. In my eyes a stormer is a stormer and all should have been put out, aint no pick and choose about it.

I must highlight this (since I see it as unfair and not putting the mas player safety first):
I played with my friend from Haiti and during the course of Tuesday, she strayed from me some how. Now keep in mind that this is her second time in Trinidad and she does not know Park street from Princess Town. Went to the first truck and informed the security that I needed to make an announcement to find a person. He directed me to the second truck. Gone to the second truck now and ask another security personnel and he took me to the mike man on the truck who said that they did not do announcements (mind you all day they paging people and what not). I flipped the mike man off, verbalized and expletive and as I was walked off, a female security who was apparently aware of the entire situation came to me, apologized for the rudeness of the mike man and took me to the proper truck (holding my hand throughout). Now the man on the third truck assured me that he would make the announcement.......lets just say that I am still waiting. Now how fair is that to me?

All in all Harts was just OKAY. Would I ever play with them again: maybe but it would not be my first choice of Carnival bands. I could not help but feel a certain "vibe" from other masqueraders and the photographers, lets just say that I was not the first, second or third choice when it came to Harts photographers. Crap, I know I am not the skinniest (shoot I love my baby fat and how it made my bumper spread) or the lightest thing alive but I do think my personality was vibrant enough to take a couple photographers. The feeling was very uneasy and it made it uncomfortable at times. The other thing I do not understand is why parade beautiful costumes that no one can see other than the Savannah crowd....I would have loved to parade and get on bad for spectators along the Avenue or even down town. But now I know that Harts is not the band if you are looking to do this. I still cannot get over the "stares" that I felt as I paraded through the band, but you know what I could care less because I pay my money and I played my mas.


Socaholic said...

I would be very interested in reading a review from other 'non-white' first time Harts masqueraders.

I have a few friends that played with Harts and by our standards they would be considered 'Trinidad white' but don't tell them that and when they get off a plane they are most definitely black. That's a whole other discussion.

Lady said...

Sad to hear you didn't totally enjoy your experience. How did you locate your friend. I too have heard that Harts behave 'funny' to non-white masqueraders. I think the Bandleaders should just not bother taking 'black people' money when they know that people would feel uncomfortable in their Band. If I too Black for your Band and the other masqueraders then my money also too Black for you!!!!!!!!!!!

And I know for a fact that some of Harts photograhers prefer to shoot the light skinned and white masqueraders...especially a certain Chinee guy!

Empath said...

This is exactly how I felt when I played mas with Harts in 2005. I must say that their costumes are pretty (they do the bikini and beads well) but as a non-white masquerader you feel very uncomfortable (and I am very 'red'). Furthermore what upsets me is that the dark skinned stormers are promptly kicked out of the band while the lighter skinned ones are allowed. A stormer is a stormer!

Nicky said...

so why do people continue to play in this band knowing that they're not discreet on which type of people they prefer to service better on all aspects?

Trini Princesssa said...

I played in Harts the year of my wedding in Tobago 2008 so I had lots of my white friends from New York with me and even they got weird vibes from the Harts crowd(and they really white not this mixup white you have in TnT LOL). They said they would rather play in another more mixed band. They loved the vibes in Jourvet that Carnival Monday and Tuesday At first folks were cold but after a while people were cool to us and I even got my picture in the magazine (token black girl LOL). I don't think I would play with them again in a hurry though. Those vibes kinda ruined my day. I live and work in NYC and have tons of white friends I forgot how closed minded whites can be. And to make matters worse, I am very very dark and my husband looks white so even more stares and puzzled looks. Stick to other big bands PLUS who the hell wants to sit on the ground at a dirty park for lunch and also not go in town ?

angel said...

I have always wondered if that was true. I mean you see all the pictures and you can clearly see that the majority of Trini whites play with Harts but i always wondered if non-whites felt uncomfortable in the band.

Jenny said...

I dont understand. Our people need to get over this black and white ting. Life is so short. Carnival is for everybody. So why play with them. This is how far our mentality has advanced?

CK said...

Well 3 years ago when I went to the mas camp and they treated me like I went to beg, I just kept on moving! I went to register and had to say good day THREE (3) times before the guy look up from some papers and when I started to ask questions he acted like I was bothering him. I won't even go into anything else! Anyone ask me about Harts, I does tell them plain that Harts too racist for me because that's the vibes I got!

Trini Princesssa said...

What I want to know is why one of the most prominant black women in Trinidad does an individual with them every year. That was one of the reasons I played with them I said Nah in this day and age people not that ignorant. Look they have Wendy up in there front and center. Anyway not on to the next band.

Lauren said...

My take on playing with Harts is that, it's not just about the color
of your skin, but it's all about
"whose who" in Trinidad. I know a doctor and a bank manager who are both dark skinned, but their children play with Harts every year with no complaints. What is even worse for me is exactly as this masquerader said, they keep circling all day long in Federation Park. As a masquerader you can get quite bored! I tried them once and that was enough for me.

nytrini said...

You couldn't pay me to play with Harts again. I played with them with my cousin (1st Carnival ever!!) and it was horrible. I mean, who do these folks feel they are? It was an extremely uncomfortable atmosphere and I felt like I didn't belong. Shame . . . .

Яїçħїε's §pōίłčћĭļέ said...

i wonder if Harts is aware that the same Carnival they making costumes for and selling is a descendant of what the BLACK AFRICAN SLAVES created??

Saucy aka "The Sauce" said...

How can you hold HARTS accountable for the attitude of their masqueraders?

mjsbunny said...

Allyuh cyah play the 'Wendy' card. Wendy is Wendy and she will transcend anything. Plus she playing in Harts since Jesus was a little boy. She only comes over to TRIBE for a bit on both days because of Peter Elias. But she like her Harts.

But Saucy is right. It's not the bandleaders' fault. It's the fault of the ignorant staff and masqueraders. When I was in school, we used to joke that all the white girls played in Harts and all the cool girls played in Poison or Barbarossa. But it was just jokes, right?

Dimples said...

It took a bartender that befriended me and my friend on Monday find her....(he was black). And I did not mean to come off like i was blaming the band leaders for any of this. Some of the mas players were acting like my blood was not rich enough for them. I could count on my hands how many persons actually wined on that is a shame even for carnival when "man wining on anything" lol

Richard said...

This is my third carnival....My first with Harts....I played with IP the previous 2 years....Now I'm from Trinidad....Americans can't tell if I'm white, latin, or black. I played with several friends that wanted to play with harts...They are mostly white and a sprinkling of indian.....At first I didn't feel comfortable..Most people in our section ( Wendy's section all seemed to know each other..I founf them up tight really..)But after we crossed the stage and a few drinks in me, I was havng a blast.
Then again, I was with a group myself...
Would I play with them again...maybe...If I was with a group..
I would prefer to be with a more mixed diverse croud...but that's just my personal preference...
All in all we all had a great time, but D rum might have something to do with it !!!!

SeawitchSapo said...

All my Carnival experiences have been with Harts except one, and the reason I changed initially was because my friends wanted all inclusive. Having changed I do not think I will go back for just 3 reasons: Harts, while being wild fun, does not have a seperate lunch "park", they have no concept of the words security and rope and I pay my money to not have non costumed masqueraders step on my foot, and the music sometimes eh so hot.

So anyway, I had a few thoughts reading peoples comments. Bear in mind that everyone has an opinion which is obviously coloured by their own experiences etc. So anyway this is my opinion:
1. First, as far as I have seen I agree with the photographer complaint. I also find that Harts photographers take pics mostly of the young, sexy up ting wining up in d band. Hardly any bigger people or darker people from MY experience. Now, all things being equal this could be because darker skinned people, while present in the band, are in the minority so when you do the maths it is only obvious that they would have less pictures. However I think not from what I see. Note I do not use the words white people I use fairer skinned people since most years I played with people who would not be classed even as local white: my cousins are half white half indian and them STAR in Harts pics...cos they slim and sexy. My friend is chinese/indian/white and she also stars. I am chunky and extremely melanin challenged, I get pics only when one of my cousins wining up on me :) No scene, I own a camera too :)
2. About the stormers. This is an issue that has always pissed me off. While security certainly does kick out alot of local whites, they tend to stop after a while and pick and choose who they kick out. My very blonde niece complains about this as well, and some of my family have gone to Tribe because of the stormer problem and no rope.

SeawitchSapo said...

3. Feeling uncomfortable. As far as I am concerned, if one goes into a band with a mindset that it is a "white band" then certainly you will feel uncomfortable. One must understand the local white mindset. The community is in essence a minuscule part of Trini society, a total minority. This brings with it many issues in itself, notably feelings of alienation from the rest of the country by the simple fact of being a MINORITY. Many many local whites that I know are highly bothered that when they do try to assimilate that they are judged as "stoosh" or "snobby" before being given a chance. Imagine being the only pink child in a school where everyone else is green? Do you not think the natural thing is to pull your corner? When I try to explain this most people do not understand. Even in university I had a lecturer inform me that I would have no problems in the job market because of my skin colour. Clearly UWI needs to send this woman to re do she effin phd. ALL my white friends unless their parents into oilfield from long time in south, have to fight up with everyone else for available jobs. Anyway, the point is that the community is a close knit community where most people do know each other. SO yes it might seem closed to people who are not part of the community. This does not mean that they (local whites) are averse to knowing/liming with/bussin a wine on other people. I know that I am not qualified to talk about how others feel in Harts, being local white myself, but my friends never ever feel uncomfortable. I asked them why and I was told because they do not allow themselves to feel uncomfortable. One very dark indian girl told me she too vain and sexy to feel weird. So, what I am trying to get across is that maybe if you go into a band with your mind already waiting to be treated "differently" then you most certainly will be treated differently. There are idiots of every hue in Trinidad of course, but one must not generalise.
Again with the colour I must note that only on one occasion have i been treated shabbily in the mas camp and that was by a black male employee. He was very dismissive of me and very rude. Luis I find is always friendly and helpful to all. Trust me also, if you play with karen Hart section she will take care of you very well and she doesnt really care how fat/thin/black/pink/white you is she just want to make sure you wear her costume well cos she likes mas and she is always proud of her creations.

I personally think that as Trinis we tend to think a lil bit too hard about race etc. To the comment that Carnival was brought by africans, no it wasnt it was brought by the French as a pre lenten festival and CHANGED by the Africans. PLease read anything by Gerry Besson or Dr Brereton for clarification. Everyone has some claim to Carnival, and we should all enjoy and appreciate it. The actions of a few assholes do not mean a whole band is racist or classist or whatever. It is by ignoring the assholes that the country will move ahead.

Ok I getting off my soapbox now. Note I said these are MY opinions.... not forcing them upon anyone.

Allan said...

Had a great time playing with Harts after a few years, however, what's up with the DJ playing old time calypso. I think alot of people were pissed off at this and wanted more 2010 calypso. Please, do what needs to be done for next year!!!

Carnivalcocoa said...

SeawitchSapo, well said.
Can I add that it's ironic that the Harts family is not purely white anyway... just saying.

Carnival Animal said...

Hole up, chill out, take a breather people too much implication about racism, I don't believe that the Harts family is racist. I really do not believe that mama and papa Hart consiously said lets go start a white band. I do believe for whatever reasons at the time of inception fifty years ago acquintances and friends of the Hart family started playing with the band and continued over many the years and eventually the band evolved into the so called white band. Harts has been around for fifty years folks and have many of the same families playing in the band generation to generation many of our children now play with the band.

People, Carnival is about having fun, you play with a particular band because you precieve you are going to have fun in and with that band. Trinidad has far greater issues to deal with than which band is white, black, green or yellow.

I too play with Harts, my mother is indian, my father all screwed up (Chinese, Negro, Portuguese, French and I do not know what else, I am so mixed up its not funny. Do I let that decide which band to play mas with absolutely not, I going to go where my friends are and which band I believe has the costume I want and the best bang for my money, if they fail I will go else where. All the bands have their own issues its never going to be perfect.


As SeawitchSapo said you cannot blame Hart for a few of their members (who by the way have their own issues & demons to deal with.)

To the folks from Haiti and Arkansas play mas a few times with the band and I can assure you your preception will change you will have a ball, make many friends, wine up on somebody and be well integrated into the band and its practices and you will have fun. We spend very little time on carnival day worrying about what the band is doing wrong and more on having a great carnival, we bitch later. Harts have been doing it their way for many years and i do not believe the core concept will change so i suggest you experience another band if you are uncomfortable. Remember the only person that can make you feel uncomfortable by another person thoughts is you. Hope to see you there next year.

Zen said...

This was my first time playing mas and with harts and I had a wonderful experience I am a dark skinned gorgeous female and I enjoyed playing with Harts I felt like a celebrity since numerous photographers band mates and random people asked me to join in and take pictures

I loved the energy and the experiene I will play with harts again and it is definitely a very pale band but so I enjoyed my carnival I am official Harts fan and i look foward to playing with them next carnival

Lily said...

Well, I am 5'11, a dark-skinned,slender Trini young lady and I played in Harts this year and this was my first time playing mas. I'll explain my experience from registration to the 2 days themselves. For one, being a first time masquerader, I decided to base my choice of band based on costume & service because 1) I knew I couldn't get into Tribe with the TLC card issue now, 2) I said if it turned out to be a tragic experience, then at least I looked good LOL and 3) Friends advice about what to look for in service given by the band in the past. So after Tribe, then Harts and Spice launched, I fell in love with a costume in Harts and made my decision.

I went to register the first day that Harts had registration in June of 2009 I believe. When I arrived at the mas camp, I was approx. the 8th person there and I was the only dark-skinned/black person there. Once more people came, I realized that everyone knew each other. So I realized that the band was more of a circle of people who know each other whether from work or from the social circles that they move within and were people who just simply kept the company of each other and played together. Can I be mad? No!!! I liked the friendly attitudes. While all of us waited in the heat, we all began to chat with one another. Even though I was an outsider (i.e. were not friends with anyone) we all chatted together abt which costumes we were interested in and what not. By the time the door opened, we all stormed in together and I registered with ease and left.

Collection was a little bit different though, was quite tough as I went carnival Friday and it had loads of people, but after about an hr and 1/2 I got through.

Carnival Monday & Tuesday was great! What I liked about the masqueraders in Harts was that everyone really knew how to enjoy themselves by themselves and with others. What I mean in particular is that the men are not overly "thustie for whine" and everyone was not behaving extremely vulgar! (as usual there are exceptions to he rule lol)Most masqueraders in the band knew each other and that's cool, I'm fine with that! Who wouldn't want to play with a crew of ppl who they were familiar with.

My only issue was the music and the wee bit of stormers it had on Tuesday evening. They had a little too much back in time soca and would repeat a song twice before moving on to another which I could not understand why they felt this necessary! Also, David Rudder was a bit of a nice treat but he came at the wrong time to perform, so his performance just threw off the vibe a bit for me but other than that I had a GREAT time. Also, many, many persons in the band asked for my pictures (dark skinned/black and non-black/non-dark skinned alike)as well as my sis' picture who is also dark-skinned and slender. So I absolutely do not agree with the whole racism issue that some believe occurs in Harts. I think people who complain about this issue need to expose themselves more to ppl of different cultures, backgrounds, and complexions more often! and stop being hypercritical. I even met some of the ppl I spoke to at registration and collection who remembered me and approached me on carnival Monday and Tuesday.

So all in all, I had a fantastic time in Harts and I will play with them again in 2011 and beyond. The few quirks were not major issues and I do not expect PERFECTION! And I thanks Harts for such a wonderful first mas experience :-)

Ian said...

I played in Harts for the first time this year and i'm Indian an I had a ball, i think that those non white ppl jus make themselves feel the way they do, its all up to you to make it fun! and yes we all know that they need help with management!!!!

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