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Friday, March 11, 2011

Island People 2011 Review

Hi Saucy. 2011 was my 2nd year playing mas. Last year my friends and I played with Harts but I'm never going back to them again. This year, we decided to go with Island People and it's a decision I shall NEVER regret :)

Starting with registration; I went to the mas camp and as I walked in, I was greeted by a rep who assisted me quite well in the showroom. I already knew which costume I wanted from looking online (Nebular Hypnosis BL) and it looked even more gorgeous in person. So the rep then personally escorted me to the measurement room where I was measured by another rep who also escorted me to the cashing room where I paid. All in all, I probably took about 20 minutes max. Anytime I came in to make a deposit, I was always greeted with a smile and was in and out in literally 5 minutes. I must say that I was impressed with the customer service. I can't compare IP this year to their previous years but I must commend them on the service this year.

Collection day; I was to collect my costume along with monday wear and goodie bag on Carnival Wednesday. However, we were told to return on Friday for the monday wear and goodie bag. No biggie for me. But once again, I must commend IP on the efficiency and service given to me that day. I checked my time when I entered and when I left. I took 10 minutes to collect my costume and I didn't even use the Fas Track Line (although I could have). The CSR went through my costume and ticked off all pieces on her list, and also had a picture of the prototype in hand. My costume looked exactly like the prototype, but better lol. It was only when I reached home however that I noticed that leg pieces weren't on the list and so weren't accounted for. So I sent an email (since phone lines weren't answered) which was replied to in 2 minutes, which stated that I come back the following day for them. Carnival Thursday I took literally 5 minutes to get the leg pieces and was apologized to. Good job IP! Also, Monday wear and the goodie bags were ready a day early so I collected that one time too. A bit disappointed by the choice of a huge black housedress but I made it work.

Carnival Monday; The band left the stadium promptly at 10 like they said. I noticed people got real creative with the Monday wear, as did I and my friends. The band went on to the avenue and from there, it was pure vibes ALL DAY. Never a dull moment with IP! The wait on Frederick Street and into the Savannah was a bit longer than I would've liked but it's a good thing these people know how to party! I didn't mind the wait at all. Oh, and the eye candy in IP! The fellas were out in their numbers looking quite fine :D Security was TIGHT!!! A couple of my friends snuck into the band and were escorted out in a matter of seconds loll... They really made no joke with stormers. After the band crossed the stage about after 2pm, we made our way to the Oval for lunch, which was quite good, although I wish there was a little more food in the box but at least I found it to be tasty. The band then made it's way back down to the stadium and the party continued. A positive for me - drinks never ran out. And no matter where you were, you never had to walk too far for a drinks truck. I liked that a lot! REL VIBES ON MONDAY!! I was soo impatient for Tuesday.

Carnival Tuesday; The band was scheduled to leave the stadium at 7. I arrived at 7:15 and the band was just making it's way out to the Avenue. Not much stopping on the way up to Frederick Street. Constant flow with no bands in front to deter us. The costumes looked phenomenal. My section, Nebular Hypnosis was soooo bright!!! That shade of blue along with the jewels really made us stand out and the sun really made us look hot. Needless to say, we looked beautiful on the road. I also liked M51 (beautiful bright pink), Galactic Dust (my 3rd choice costume), Saturn Bliss (soooo bright in their yellows and reds) and Meteor Burst. Others that I didn't like so much were Vega (although it was 1st to sell out but looked good online), Zune and Forever Orbit... But all in all we looked hot. The party continued from yesterday. The band was filled with plenty vibes and good people. I'm happy they didn't "over-play" Machel's tunes and they gave us a mix on any truck so that was a plus for me. From the time the band hit Frederick Street, I feel like the party was amplified for some reason lol. More drinks flowed, more party music, more wining... it was the BEST! The wait to cross the stage was longer now but it didn't seem to bother the masqueraders from what I saw. We had a ball crossing the stage with Machel performing and then made our way to the Oval to eat. At half 5, the party continued all the way to the avenue, across the avenue and down Wrightson Road back to the Stadium (although I thought the security kinda slacked a little just before we turned to Wrightson Road). I was still able to get drinks even at half 7 in the night - KUDOS IP!! I also couldn't be more pleased that suprisingly my entire costume was able to endure the rigours of the road. not a bead out of place, even after all that jammin!!

So most DEFINITELY I will be in IP next year, God spare life... I give them a full 5 stars for my experience :)

YUMA Trinidad Carnival 2011 - Review #3

The Long & Short of it: It's between YUMA and Bliss for 2012 people!

VIBE: The band size (2500) was small enough that I could point out a sexy man to come back and wine pon later after I found my drinks or relocated my friends (whom I would never relocate in Tribe). I love big groups but 5800 is TOO DAMN BIG Tribe! I would like to point out that the women were beautiful and the men were hot. Eye candy for everyone no matter what you're into. I don't know if we were all young upwardly mobile adults, but we were hot! Some men were so impressed with the "aesthetics" of it all that they were already talking about how they were doing YUMA again for sure come 2012! The vibe was great. Everyone was winin and carryin on- people were hype! The music was ok... I spent time at all the trucks, but I did notice that primarily 'Soca Monarch' songs were played (along with Kes's entire discography ,lol), with very little else. So on the one hand you could say that the biggest hits were played, but they really needed to add more variety. Seriously.

COSTUMES: The costumes were very pretty, though combustible. Even though my bling was all over the road by 10am and the Oracle BL belt tore most of our stockings to shreds before noon, YUMA ladies looked GOOD. Our basic backline headpieces were bigger and fancier than some of the other band's frontline headpieces! And we paid less! I wasn't too crazy about some of the male costumes, but no biggie. I was really looking forward to seeing the Aries, Aquarius & Taurus female individuals that were so prominently portrayed in the costume media launches, but I don't know what happened to them...

DRINKS & FOOD: Thoroughly satisfied with my drinks. I had no trouble getting drinks, no matter what I wanted, I got as much as I wanted, and when I wanted! And with drinks like coffee-flavored Patron and pink Nuvo flowing, I am not complaining! The food was nasty IMHO, but edible, and definitely not a deal-breaker. YUMA turned out to be pretty darn flexible though with regards to me switching my meal chit from chicken to fish (though they refused to do this at mas camp).

MAJOR PROBLEMS: We all know about the waiting in line to cross the stage and not eating until nightfall issue, so I will not address that in depth, but I will say that as an Oracle all the way in the front, with tired dead feet and a hungry belly, staring at the stage for hours upon end in the hot sun, IT SUCKED. If it weren't for a friend who drug my tired lifeless body onto the Savannah, then I would have just crossed while sprawled out on the ledge of Truck #1. It is arguable whether that was YUMA's fault, and I am in no mood to debate that. People have already brought up the idea that they should have brought the food to us when they realized we would be waiting for hours to cross the stage. I completely agree, and I'm sure they won't make that mistake twice, should the situation arise again. I should also bring up security...There were several random people in the band, and when the "barriers" were nowhere to be found most of the time (especially when we turned corners), I could see why... It didn't mash up my Carnival though! I was busy winin on every ras with a wristband!

WHY I WOULD DO YUMA AGAIN: What I like about YUMA is how interactive they are, and how they incorporate people's suggestions into their program. For instance, after YUMA insisted that they were not doing repairs, but everyone complained about costume repair on the FB page, they opened up a repair center within a day or two. I am sure that they will be compiling a best practices list and working hard to eliminate all major issues from this year's road march. They seem serious about building a good brand. I see that all bands had costume issues, and some had more food & drink issues than we had. Overall I rate them high and it is simply a toss-up between YUMA and Bliss to see who has the best costumes for 2012.

Xi' An Issues


Something must be said about the poor workmanship of some of Tribe's costumes, namely Xi'an Warriors. We paid almost $6,000 for a frontline costume. While my wire bra stayed intact for the entire day, my sister-in-law's own fell apart at 10am on Tuesday!! The reason mine did not fall apart was that i wasn't jumping around a lot until we crossed the stage and after, so her bra is testament to the fact that it was not built to withstand carnival behaviour.

Me and a few other girls had to scramble to fix the bra as it was to the point where both her boobs would have been completely exposed. We had no tape, so we chewed up gum and tried to stick it together, when that did not work we had to pull off pieces of our hand bands and leg pieces and use the string to tie it up. SERIOUSLY? $6000?? Before we crossed the stage we told Sandra who giggled and said to come to Fitt Street after we cross the stage so she could fix it. Really, all anyone was thinking after crossing the stage was FOOD...

A little advice for bands on a whole, especially the little private sections: we pay so much for our costumes there should be mending materials on a particular truck so that masqueraders whose costumes are in a serious state can get it fixed or stuck back together quickly while on the road and not have to find themselves on some street far from where they are supposed to be heading.

Concerned Carnival Baby.

Mas Jumbies 2011 - The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Let me start by saying that I have been with Mas Jumbies since its inception, and until now, I've had a fabulous time every year. I was lured by the artistic costumes, the mellow vibe, and the caring, family atmosphere.

The Good:
This year, as with every year previously, the costumes were fantastic! I'm always amazed that such wonderful works of art materialize from very inexpensive pieces of fabric, plastic, cardboard and the like. I was especially impressed with the elaborate hoop skirts worn by the frontline masqueraders. Yes that's right, a j'ouvert band with frontline costumes!

Food & Drinks -
We arrived at the meeting point promptly at 3:00 to find breakfast already being distributed. As we approached the band our breakfast order was taken by a volunteer and within minutes we were brought warm, delicious sandwiches as well as spiked coffee to start the day. The drinks truck did not arrive until a bit later, but once it was on the scene, drinks flowed freely. A small camera crew was making its way around the band, interviewing various masqueraders, and the feeling of excitement was building in anticipation of a very fun and festive morning.

The Masqueraders-
There was a nice mix of people of all ages and races, newbies and veterans, but we all seemed to share the common desire to have a relaxed, easygoing j'ouvert. It was great fun chatting with some of the people who had come from far and wide to participate. There was a strong family vibe, and I felt I was with a group of friends rather than random strangers.

The Bad:
Music Truck-
Even though we were being seranaded by soca blasting from one of the volunteer's vehicles, we were becoming rather concerned with the delays in the music truck's arrival. I know from experience that an early start is crucial to avoiding a lot of the congestion and stormers we were likely to encounter, and every passing minute without a truck would make it that much more difficult for us to have a smooth route. Needless to say, I was more than a little miffed when the truck finally arrived almost three hours late. This has been an ongoing issue with Mas Jumbies, but this was by far the longest that we have had to wait for music. By the time we took off, first light was visible over the hills to the east.

As if the late arrival wasn't bad enough, the DJ insisted on playing the most 'power' of power soca, probably in an effort to get us revved up and excited, but all it managed to do was attract scores of wild and unruly youths and we found ourselves being crushed into increasingly narrower passages as the crowd grew thicker.

Already having two strikes against us with the late departure and crowded streets, security was doing absolutely nothing to make the situation better. As we approached South Quay, we found ourselves being corralled even more tightly by the rope, like a bunch of animals. I found myself being violently crushed and shoved several times, and spent almost the whole time trying to keep the rope from tearing up my hands and legs. Many times I just gave up my struggle and ducked under the rope, preferring to take my chances with the wildness on the sidewalk rather than risk torn up limbs (call me vain, but that's just how I roll). I saw that the ropes were fastened to the truck on both sides, which is dangerous and illegal in itself, and I was instantly reminded of an injury a friend sustained two years ago in Mas Jumbies as a result of this same practice. At that point, all I wanted to do was get to the judging point and go home. Any joy that I had left was melting away as I and other masquerades played a game of duck and run with the ropes.

Mere minutes before crossing the stage, I was alerted by a great deal of screaming and turned around in time to see about 20 people pulled to the ground, some of them being dragged several feet, by the rope which I only NOW realized had been looped around behind all the masqueraders!! Those of us still standing rushed to the aid of the fallen, some of whom had gone down quite hard and were dazed and bleeding. As far as I was concerned, j'ouvert was over and I was ready to make an exit, but the only way out of the crush was to cross the stage, which we did, in total disarray, limping and shuffling.

The Ugly:
From some of the comments posted on the previous review, it's very clear that I must have been enjoying a very pampered existence in my twenty-one years of playing mas. Because in all that time, I have never sustained injuries that compare to what I've seen and heard about in this incident. It was not until yesterday that the full extent of some of my friends' injuries were revealed to me. A six-inch rope burn, accompanied by large bruises extending from the ankle to the top of the thigh on one person, multiple rope burns, blisters (which are now ruptured, oozing and weeping), swollen limbs and a possible fracture on another person, more rope burns with heavily bruised legs and ribcage on another. None of these people are frail or elderly by any means, so I can only imagine what happend to those with slower reflexes or more delicate bones.

And as if seeing and hearing about these injuries wasn't painful enough, I have to contend with the fact that these people joined Mas Jumbies on MY recommendation!

I can't begin to tell you how saddened I am by this turn of events. I have been an avid supporter and fan of Mas Jumbies through the years, and I would have loved nothing more than to sing their praises and say what a fabulous time I had. The bandleader has contacted me, as well as some of the injured masqueraders, several times already to express his dismay and regret and to ask what he can do to make this right. I hope he is able to address the complaints of the injured parties to their satisfaction. I fully understand that it was not Mas Jumbies intention for anyone to be hurt, and that it was due to the laziness and incompetence of their security team that people were hurt. But ultimately the responsibility lies with Mas Jumbies. I wish them the best of luck and success in dealing with this matter, but I really can't see myself back on the road with them again.

YUMA Trinidad Carnival 2011 - Review #2

As I sit here waiting to depart, what better way to leave Trinidad than to write about the experience that was YUMA. I'll start from the beginning until the culmination that is called Carnival Tuesday.

Online registration was a bit hectic and I was a tad upset at the fact that they only informed potential patrons mere hours before that they planned to open registration. So imagine my upset over the fact that I specifically timed their registration to my trip to NY (mind you I was driving). It was a bit hectic trying to find a hot spot driving through places in Arkansas and some places in Tennessee (and not even account for the time difference), just so I could register. As registration opened, it was like magic, one by one sections started to close and sizes were depleted. I did not get in my first, second or third choice but I must say my eventual section; Aries with the large headpiece was to my liking. I am not too sure what the allure for FL costumes this year, but those were the ones that went like hot hops once online registration started. The only reason I gave registration an A is due to the fact that I did not get my first choice in costumes (but that is apart of carnival so I didn't mind).

One thing with YUMA that I didn't understand was they elected to have each costume assigned to a masquerader, instead of allowing multiple names on one ticket. This proved a disadvantage to me because I usually play with my girlfriend and I am the logistic behind our carnival team. I'm always the one to register both costumes in my name without any problems. In my horror, although I received confirmation for the two costumes registered in my name, only one down payment was withdrawn. Lucky when I called the mas camp, I was able to get through on the second try and the representative informed me that communication would have to be done via e-mail. I was able to get the matter sorted out within about 10 emails in the period on 1 hour. I would like to comment whoever handled the emails for the prompt response as this could have been an extremely sour note if I did not realize that each person had to have a registration although the same credit card could be used.

From what I observed, YUMA responds to all the questions posted on their facebook page (although most were repetitive and quite frankly anoying at times with the "supposed" rumors and here-says). Up until carnival Monday, YUMA was still actively involved in updating statuses and responding to some queries by masqueraders.

If I said I spent 30 minutes collecting the two costumes purchased I would honestly be lying. Upon entering the distribution center, two ladies greeted you and asked if you were paid in full or if you still owed a balance. After ensuring that I was in the system, I was sent to the cashier. Once I paid my balance, the cashier noticed that in the system it shows that my headpieces were small instead of large. In order to prevent any problems when I picked up my costume, she wrote a manual receipt and advised me to show this to the CSR because the computer system was showing something different.

When I collected my costume, I made sure and checked every inch and square; and Joel (I think that was his name) allowed me to do so with ease. We both had papers showing what I was supposed to get in my package. After collecting the two costumes, he even helped me carry out the two headpieces because I could not hold them along with two boxes and goodie bags.

Monday started out slow. The frustration of standing in one spot for about an hour (especially when the band says departure time is 11 A.M.), in the hot sun was unpleasant. I would say however, that the bar made up for this as drinks started to flow before the truck moved. The snack truck was also there so instead of standing in the heat chipping in one spot, I was chipping eating and drinking at the same time. When we moved off (can't remember the time), I kept wonder WTH is up with the security detail and we had a police escort as well as several armed officers alongside the band. It was only when we reach the Ave, I saw Pres Max and the light bulb went off. Although the police detail was strict, the rope bearers (who also had "security" on their tee-shirts) did nothing but hold the barrier. At times I saw where stormers were allowed to enter the band and the rope "security" did nothing but hold that green banner. Really rope people, really? I hated this as it was a constant problems on both days and at times either that banner was not long enough or there were not enough rope people that securing the perimeter of the band was a complete failure.

I enjoyed my lunch I must say. Only masqueraders were allowed in the area as bands were checked before you could enter the grounds. When we got there I was still hot and the drinks were ice cold. YUMA provided mats (not enough though) to sit on and the food tents were in a totally different area that the rest rooms. Hand soap, mirrors and lotion was provided and I applaud them for taking that extra step.

I did not think the day could get any better, but I would say as the band paraded along their route the vibes kept increasing. By far this was the best carnival Monday experience that I've had since playing mas.

I met the band about 8:30 as they headed up Tragarete Road. Traffic was not bad as we headed to the downtown judging point. The only thing I did not like was that once we left that judging point, there was no music truck until we got back on Frederick street, big FAIL. After all the excitement of downtown, imagine walking without music and spectators looking at a music less band, in my opinion that was unattractive. When we got to Frederick that is when the congestion started. It seemed like hours before we got anywhere and although the DJ's were keeping the music pumping, it was no fun standing (but I understand that is the sacrifice you make to cross the stage).

The low light of the day was not being able to get lunch before the stage, and this was a general concern by all masqueraders. Once again, the rope people/security failed horribly. There were times the green banner was there and at times it disappeared. After crossing the stage it was a mess. My section was third to last and as I exited the Savannah, I did not know which way to go as the band was a mixture of everything. I had to guess where to go to meet back up with the band.

The so-called late lunch was not appealing to me and I opted not the eat because I knew it was going to be a mad rush. I was surprised that my costume remained in full tack as I saw many females with pins and missing gems and pieces as well as what I read on the YUMA page.

Overall, I never expected YUMA to be 100% perfect. As with any company, and entity, even with bands who have been around for years there are expected to be some flaws. I am not a nit-picker and even though I experience some technical difficulties, it was nothing a glue stick, and needle and thread couldn't fix. If I had to give YUMA a grade, they would get a solid B+ from me; and this is only based on MY experience. I cannot attest to what other people were going through and I am not going to factor that into my grade. I must say that although YUMA tried to please their fans, there were some people who the best was not best enough. Things such as the contents of my goodie bag don't matter much to me, because half the time I don't look in there until I reach back to Arkansas.

Next year, YUMA will see me again as I enjoyed myself to the fullest. Things can definitely be improved upon, such as security, and costume construction/durability.

YUMA Trinidad Carnival 2011 - Review #1

Costume Pickup : 
It was a breeze picking up my Taurus frontline costume. I went Tuesday at around 2:30pm. Had about a 5 minute wait and then it was like 2 minutes to pay, 5 minutes to pickup. The women working there were very friendly no sour faces or poor customer support. They went through a detailed checklist and made sure everything was accounted for. I even saw the major players affiliated with the band assisting customers and dealing with issues/complaints. So much different from Spice. I went another day with my cousins and the wait in the waiting room was maybe 15 minutes in the waiting room and 15 each for the payment and costume pickup. It was all very very organized and calm.

Note: Because of some issues/sickness with a friend of mine I had to assist selling her costume CARNIVAL SUNDAY NIGHT. Thank GOD for the YUMA Facebook page. I posted an ad and within 10 minutes I got 3 calls. I sold my friends costume for $3200. The buyer was happy and so was my friend.

Carnival Monday :
We met up with the band around 12 due to getting in late from Jourvert. We used the band locate number and received a fast text back regarding the bands location. We found them right away and the first thing I did was get a bite from the snack truck. They had fruit and also various sandwiches. I choose cheese paste which was delicious. Next stop the drinks truck. I saw so many top shelf liquors. I choose NUVO which I was drinking all Carnival. I always get my drink on early because I know no band has an infinite supply of liquor. I chipped and danced my way all around. The lunch stop was nicem, made sure to stock up on alcohol because I know they probably not serving during lunch. They had foam and tents to eat under. Lines were manageable and food was fresh. As it got later and we went around town I knew we weren’t going to cross the stage. I just had a feeling but it really didn’t bother me because my Carnival wasn’t about crossing the stage (on Monday anyway). After the Savannah we broke away from the band and went home to rest up for Tuesday.

Carnival Tuesday :
My Tuesday was great. Met the band around 8am and it was vibes all day. I had enough to drink, fresh food, fresh makeup, costume in check. I know others who had a bad time but I am a well seasoned masquerader and remember the Poison days of standing in one place for 2 hours.

I know many masqueraders had a bad time waiting to cross the stage but like the DJ said we wanted to cross the stage. I already had my plan in place. If we were in town to long and there were more than two bands in front of us, we were going back home to freshen up and then meet when the were about to cross. I stayed because I was wearing 3 inch wedge boots and didn’t feel like walking back to Woodbrook. I chilled around the Savannah on a bench next to a very nice corn soup vendor who had a big umbrella. My crew made a 1 hour stop at home, freshened up makeup and even used my glue gun to fix costume malfunction (LOL). Eventually I went into the Savannah and sat watching IP and Legacy cross from the “cheap seats”. Then I watched YUMA make the slow decent. We all met up around 5 and crossed the stage ! WOW it was all worth it to get that feeling back. I trampled, palanced, paraded and even made my way over to the judges because isn’t that why we were on the stage ? Me and Trini Orisha Gyal were one of the few from my section facing and performing for them.

Next is time for food. Like I said I have rel strategies and plans during Carnival to make sure I get my money’s worth. I pulled my crew and said we need to get to CIC QUICK.. That food is going to be spoiled if we wait. Then I see my man KES running past and I tell them lets follow him. When we got there a few masqueraders were eating and there were no lines. We got the Japanese food in the black boxes and it was very tasty still warm and not spoiled. After eating it was getting dark one of the drinks trucks pulled up and we had our last set of drinks for the night when I left they still had all the drinks. There was a snafu leaving though due to people trying to get in and out at the same time. We eventually worked it out but that was scary for a moment. Next year they probably should try to get QRC grounds for a rest stop. That tiny bridge in an out was a mess Tuesday for my group anyway. We decided to call it a night after that and walked back home.

Other Comments:
The Monday wear provided was really cute. I made my own custom wirebra and decorated the extra gold shorts I got from YUMA. I personally don’t like the idea of Monday wear but I know lost of people do. I was a great surprise and everyone in my crew wore theirs.

My costume stayed intact. The only part that came undone was a large medallion on the Taurus Frontline overlay. BUT they secured it with a stitch so it didn’t fall off. My headpiece which I wore all day had every jewel and embellishment. I must commend Richard and Anthony designs again for such a great costume, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with for next year. They looked fab as usual along with their entire crew.
The male individuals in YUMA were FIERCE.. I saw some familiar faces from Harts and even Tribe. They did a great job and looked like they were having a time. Oh and they let all the individual costumes lead the band to cross the stage. That was really nice. I may have to contemplate a individual costume next year J.

Wrap Up:
My Carnival this year was the best one to date. Best Costume, Best Music, Best Vibes, Best Drinks, Best STAGE! I have no real complaints for YUMA. I would definitely play with them again next year. The only question is, if they are coming out how will registration be ? I hope they don’t turn out to be another Tribe loyalty and committee member type band. I would have to say they have a definite following. God willing I will be there again next year hopefully in a R&A design

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