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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Spice Experience


I started playing mas when I was 3. I have played consistently since then and have jumped with many bands- Harts, Barbarosa, Minshall, Mavericks, Poison, Berkley, Skandal-Us and this year, Spice. This was my first year playing with an all- inclusive band. My education roots make me extremely skeptical of the hyperbole used by bands touting their “ultimate,” “ultra,” “one-of- a- kind” road experience. This elusive experience that the bandleaders tout and the masqueraders seek is possible when mas is played in Utopia, not Trinidad. After three decades of playing mas, the only person who can deliver this “ultimate” experience is…MOI! After all, I pay for this!
Playing mas is the objective of Monday and Tuesday. As a masquerader, I want a costume that I love, food and drink (if all-inclusive), good music, and good vibes in the band. Spice delivered on all four. So, what made my experience so sweet when others are so sour?

Numerous masqueraders complained about the drink trucks being AWOL and the long wait to cross the stage. Since mas has been “on de road,” the trucks have always turned off at Memorial Park. On Monday and Tuesday, I grabbed a few waters and beers to keep me hydrated since I knew I wouldn’t see the trucks until after I palanced across the stage. As far as the long wait, this is not new or specific to any one band. The bands are actually crossing the stage at the savannah faster than when there was the big stage. Don’t these people remember the days of Poison when you watched the band start to cross the stage, ran out to get some Royal Castle, came home, and Poison was still crossing de stage?

After palancing across the stage, numerous Spicers made like lemmings and stormed the first bar truck they saw. Upon seeing the madness, I chipped ahead to the front bars and easily got some more drinks. I thought to myself-don’t those people know that there are 2 express bars and another full bar in this band? Apparently not. My question was answered when the lemmings on Monday were joined by even more lemmings on Tuesday.

When the line-up was revealed, my beloved section, Thailand, was second to last! Now, I am a front-of-the-band kind of girl. I am too much of a control freak to be wining to oblivion in the back of the band. I was not going to let Thailand’s placement deter me. After crossing the stage and grabbing my drinks, I made my way to the front of the band because I figured we headed to the rest stop, QRC. The control freak wanted to assess the situation. Because my partner–in-crime and I were among the first few to enter the grounds, we readily secured chairs, had clean port-o-potties, and small lines for the food. We got drinks out of the bins placed around the grounds, sat in the shade and dug into lunch. Did I expect a gourmet meal? No! The caterers are cooking for 1500+ people off-site. (I have had to stomach worse school lunches that are prepared on-site.)

Knowing that a band is always bigger on Tuesday, I again made sure to make my way to the front of the band, grab drinks and head to QRC. Once again, no problems.

Security was on point Monday and Tuesday. Many people grumble about the situation on Aripita Ave; however, this by no means is the fault of the bands. The NCC is the one who needs to address the crowd control situation. Spice security did their best to deal with the narrowing space from the burgeoning crowd.

The music was also on point. I don’t stick up next to one music truck during the day. I didn’t hear any techno, but if I did I would have just moved on or hung back for another music truck. I didn’t mind the mix of ole time soca because I really didn’t need to hear ‘Thiefin’” for the five thousand-six hundred -and -eighty- sixth time.

As far as the bar running out of specific liquors, yes this is true. Did it bother me? Hell, no. On Tuesday afternoon, I sauntered up to one of the bars and asked for my customary rum and coke only to be told that they were out of rum. I didn’t stomp my way over to the next bar, I just asked for two vodka and cranberries instead. I don’t limit myself to just one drink on the road. I like my alcohol too, too much. If some one asks me if I’m drinking Carib, Stag, Guiness, Hennessy, 1919, or Johnny, I tell them all of the above. You pouring? I’m drinking. The bar girl was pouring vodka, so I was drinking vodka.

After having a blast with my fellow Spicers on Tuesday, I realized it was 5:30, the sun would be setting and the band was headed downtown to cross the stage. Despite the fabulous time we were having we decided it was time to say good-bye to Spice. Why?

  • Unescorted women in bikini and beads need to get their a*% out of downtown before the sun sets.
  • We were moving farther away from transportation and we had to get either a route or private taxi.
  • The band left from Park and Charlotte and even if the band ended there, I still didn’t want to be in that area after dark on Carnival Tuesday. I don’t expect a personal escort from Spice or any other band I have played with.

A serious masquerader always takes responsibility for their enjoyment and safety on the road. I know that bandleaders have expectations to meet, but I have worked too hard for my money to have a bad time at Carnival. I need to take control of the situation and squeeze out every last cent of my hard earned money. I have never placed my carnival experience into the hands of the bandleaders whether it was Edmund, Wayne, Peter, or Anya. Have costume? Will jump!

My experience with Spice was that of an old married couple. On Saturday, we had a horrible fight at the Hilton, but great make-up sex on Monday and Tuesday!

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