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Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Gems Band Launch

GEMS presents

2k11 Conquest of Alexander

@ Callaloo Mas Camp, Chaguaramas

Sat 9th oct, 2010

7pm till..............

Special guest from Jamaica and one of the leading Brass Bands in T&T

For tickets and info contacts 770-1942. 365-5329 or 6254881.

Ramajay Mas - The Review

With this being my second Labor Day Carnival, I decided to play with Ramajay Mas because I have to admit, the costumes were on point this year, instead of being cheap, recycled and non-inventive costumes that are prone to be seen on the parkway. My section of choice was Isis Frontline with the full bra.

It took a couple of weeks before the website was operational, and yet still a few more before the registration form was available on the website. Although I emailed a representative of the band through Facebook, the only word on online registration was that it would be available soon. When I noticed this, I immediately emailed the band through its website and inquired about online registration for my desired section. Almost immediately, I received an email response with the confirmation that my section was still available, along with a registration form an directions on how to make the deposit through Paypal. After filling out the form, I made the deposit using Paypal website and returned the registration form to the band and waited for my confirmation e-mail that I was actually registered in Isis. To be honest, to this day, I am still waiting on my confirmation email.

Over all, communication to masqueraders was POOR. I should not have to be continuously calling the camp during business hours and not get an answer. I can remember calling the band when it first launched, and no matter the time I called, the phone would go to voice mail. REALLY, to me this was unprofessional having a cell phone used as the business phone. Granted that the Labor Day parade is only six hours, I still think that the band should have taken out a temporary land line, or even if they used the cell phone, they could have at least have a recorded message letting callers know that they have reached the band at a bad time and how soon a representative would be available to help. Anything other than a computer generated “You have reached the voice mail of (insert number here), please leave a message after the beep.”

During one of my earlier communications, I enquired about collecting my costume on the Sunday before Labor Day seeing that I was driving from Arkansas and the representative from the camp said sure I can make arrangements for that date. However, the week before Labor Day, I called again to make said arrangements and another representative informed me that if the costume was not collect before Saturday 4th, my costume could be sold.

Another area of poor communication skill was in regards to collection, as you will read later on in the review, masqueraders were advised of one thing, yet the complete opposite happened.

On the brighter side though, I must admit that the section leader for Isis, Akin Ross, was very communicative with his section, and he personally called me instruct me on how to measure myself for the wings. This communication from Akin did not stop there, as the morning of the parade he was willing to give me directions on where to meet the band when I was lost. He also made sure to go through each masqueraders box (from what I saw), and made sure each person was satisfied with what they received.

Hummm, where should I start, DISORGANIZED, HECTIC and CHAOTIC cannot even begin to describe what went on at the distribution center. Although my collection date was set for Thursday 2nd, I never got to New York until Friday morning. All paper work that I received from the band indicated that collection started at 4pm. Got to the mas camp at about 4:30pm only to be turned around by the gate man saying no distribution until 6pm. What happen to facebook, twitter or a phone call, I could save my gas if I had known I was not supposed to be there until 6. By the time I returned to the distribution center, there was a number system in place, which I do think was a good idea. After I paid the balance on my costume, I proceeded to collect my costume – which by the way was not there. After a frantic search for my costume, a representative from the band informed me that I (key word I) had to call a number to find out what my costume was…..WHAT. So I pay my money to the band and still I have to find out where my costume is, which by the way was supposed to be there at 4pm. After calling the number, I was told to return at 8pm because my costume should be there then. Luckily I had other F.L.H.O things to take care of, so I went about my business and returned at about 8:30pm.

By then it was pure madness as costumes were not completed and representatives were still making bras, headpieces, and belts to satisfy the masses that ensued. When I got to the Isis station (more like the space they had for Isis distribution), I was greeted by a rasta guy (whose name I can’t remember) and he proceeded to put my box together.

In the box, I received my costume, some Carol’s Daughter shampoo and a thank you letter from Akin Ross and Theif Head Crew (sp). I also received the jewelry that was advertised on the website and two costume jewelry rings.

Now when I looked at my bra and I looked at my ta ta’s and I said “na this eh go work.” Apparently the bras made by the distributors ran small and a lot of the big breasted masqueraders had the same problem as I. To solve the problem, Akin was willing to have masqueraders with bra issues, bring in their own bra and redecorate them. I applaud him for this, as some of the other sections were not willing to do this and a lot of females were very upset.

After getting my box, I did have to wait about another hour and a half because the person who was supposed to fit the wings to ensure that they were correct was not at the distribution center and was “coming just now” for about an hour.

After waiting and getting fitted for my wings, I went home and I must say that I was satisfied with the product I paid for, however, the belt was measured incorrectly (a lot of females had this problem also) and while I thought my bra could have worked it did not.

When I returned to the distribution on Saturday, it was worse than Friday night. The line was ridiculous and they were only letting people in six at a time. I saw this as a good move as it would cut down on confusion and keep clutter out of the small space that they were working with.
After waiting about two hours in line, I was finally able to get inside and when I told Akin of my problem, he gave me his number so that I could organize with him at his own work space to convert a gold monokini that I had into a costume.

Now I do not know or do not want to know what happened when I left the distribution center as there were a few people requesting refunds because the product they received was not completed or did not fit correctly. I know of a few individuals who had to wait a couple of hours because their costumes would not be at the venue until about 11pm.

The parkway would be the parkway and I really thought Ramajay could have had everything in control after the confusion that was happening for three nights straight. To be honest I do not know where the band was scheduled to meet as my section held a breakfast party at the Tikki Village. Because I had to do my own makeup and get my face decorated, I opted to meet the band at East New York and Rockaway Parkway, where the parade begins. At about 2pm, several masqueraders were asking where the band was and finally, by word of mouth (I don’t know who started it) everyone found out that the trucks were actually at Buffalo and Rockaway.

For the duration of the parade, the rope men were kinda doing a good job a keep stormers out, except one point where I just thought the band was a t-shirt band. I must say that the mike men on the truck did stop the music to discourage stormers and also instructed the rope men on what areas needed securing and the importance of keeping the stormers out.

One particular point that pissed me off was to see a stormer tell the security that she not getting out the band and he did nothing. WTF, so you mean to tell me Mr. Big Strappin man, a STORMER tells you she not getting out the band and you said OK. Ramajay I want back my money for security because obviously you guys did not tell your men that a stormer is a stormer no matter race, creed, color or nationality. It reminded me of how I felt in regards to the security putting out stormers in Harts this year: security picked and chose who was a stormer.

Overall, I think Ramajay have some serious kinks to work out, mainly security, customer service and also communication. It makes no sense to have on a company distributed collection list that distribution starts at 4pm when in all reality it starts at 6pm. It is no fun the day before the parade and your costume is still being worked on. It is no fun having a sweaty stormer winning up on me when I paid my money to enjoy myself in the band. I am not saying that there is a band out there without some problems, but for Ramajay, the problems that masqueraders had outweighed the beauty of their costumes.

Another thing that I notice was a topic you talked about in the past Saucy. I saw backline babes with wings, and frontline H.O.’s with backline belts (gasp), but that is a whole nother topc.
As far as a grade, I would give the band a D+. And to the dougla girl who was making the Lakshmi costumes (yes I calling she out), next time better customer service is needed from you. If yuh hadda frown yuh face, you should be in the back gluing on the decorations on the bra because your attitude was definitely not needed.

I am happy that I choose Isis because the section leaders tried their best to satisfy and rectify all costume problems unlike some other sections that I saw. I am thoroughly please that instead of having my ta tas making their debut on the parkway, the designers worked with me in putting a fit together that I was satisfied with.
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