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Friday, April 08, 2011

2011 Trinidad Carnival - Beach House

Greetings peeps, Kermit here bringing you the stories and scenes from Beach House 2011. I have always heard about this fete but for one reason or another, I have never attended. This year I decided to see what all the hype was about and determine whether all the stories about the awesomeness of this fete were true so I made plans, brought extra batteries for the Nikon and boarded the chartered minibus feeling excited and very much looking forward to discovering what today held in store for me.

Although the fete is called Beach House, it is no longer actually held by the beach as that location was outgrown some years ago. The current iteration is held outside of Port-of-Spain at the Brechin Castle Golf Club in Couva. Essentially, a picturesque meadow gets converted into a party venue for the 5,000 plus attendees and as you can see from my early pictures, this description is very accurate. As you park and walk towards the entrance, any doubts as to which party you were at are quickly dispelled as the name of the fete is spelled out for all to see in letters 6 feet high. After passing through security, you walk up a canopied path toward the main area pausing frequently to partake of the various drink stalls which were set up along the way (Nuvo and Johnny Walker (Blue and Gold) being atop everyone’s list) and as you eventually crest the hill the entire party site is laid out before you. Immediately visible are two main bars which sort of frame the main dance area. In the middle of the dance area there is the DJ tower from which the mixologists sought (quite successfully I might add) to captivate and hypnotize us with their mixing prowess. To the right of all of this can be found the food area which is flanked by two raised pavilions where patrons, if they so chose, were able to sit at tables and enjoy their food while being shaded under large umbrellas.

We decided to head to the bar to get a beverage so that we would have something to sip while mashing up large quantities of food so we sauntered over to see what was available. Peeps, the alcohol selection was a sight you have to see to believe. It was as though they transported a Duty Free shop straight from the airport and placed it in the fete. Almost anything you wanted was there and since Grey Goose and I had been liming strong all carnival and doing very well the morning after, I saw no reason to change. I made my request, and within 2 minutes a nicely strong ice cold drink was in my hand. As drinks service goes, a 2 minute wait for a drink is EXCELLENT but of course the party hadn’t really gotten started yet so the crowds were light. The true test of a bar comes much later on when the fete is in full swing and people are getting on bad and need a constant supply of “Wotless Fuel” to keep the winery going and the bar at Beach House passed this test with distinction. The main bars were so huge and well stocked both with staff and supplies that no matter when I presented myself at a bar, my wait was never longer than 5 minutes. This does not even take into account the specialty pavilions so liberally sprinkled around the party and although I never had occasion to visit them to order drinks, I would imagine that the level of service there would at least match that found at the main bars.

Drinks secured, we sauntered over to the food and perused the menu. There was everything from baby back ribs, lamb loin, shrimp cocktails, jerk chicken bites, and crab dumplings and that was just the appetizers! The main courses varied from Latin to Western to Far East to Asian and of course Caribbean and Vegetarian with an assortment of Dessert Treats to round out the meal. Where to begin! After a brief discussion, we decided on a systematic approach and we started eating our way from left to right starting with the appetizers and working our way through as much as we could before getting full. We spent a very happy 45 minutes or so sampling the delicious foods and when we felt the beginnings of a food coma approaching we called an end to our feeding frenzy. Sadly we didn’t make too much progress towards our goal of eating our way across the food horizon although we did make it halfway which is a decent achievement nonetheless.

Bellies full, we decided to make a circle around the fete to see what other attractions had been provided for our amusement. We found the sno-cone vendors highly entertaining not only for their alcohol infused treats (which helped combat the FEROCIOUS heat of the midday sun) but also for their wining ability which they proudly displayed even as they dispensed their icy delicacies. After that we were seduced by the lovely Jagermeister girls into doing a few shots and after checking out the various specialty pavilions we settled down to some serious drinking and liming by the Moet tent.

By now a couple hours had passed since our arrival and the fete was filling up quickly. Much of the open space that was present in my earlier pictures was now occupied by people dressed to impress yet ready at a moment’s notice to ramfle anything should the mood take them. By now the people here had been eating and drinking for some time and while they were nicely primed for wildness, the overall vibe was still more of a lime than a party but every once in a while someone would break away and put down a wicked piece of winery and you would see the hunger in people’s eyes as they watched and waited. I don’t know exactly when Beach House when from lime to fete but I do know what it felt like: a big Maracas Beach wave.

Maracas Beach is one of the more popular beaches in Trinidad and it is located on the North Coast of the island. It is known as a great liming spot and boasts some of the best Bake and Shark (Richard’s) on the island. It is also known for sometimes having tricky currents and large waves especially around Carnival time. Peeps, have you ever been in the water at Maracas Beach, jus liming with your crew talking about this and that when you notice that the water is receding rather quickly? One minute the water was chest high, then it dropped to your waist and you thought, oh, a wave must be coming. Waves come all the time, but every now and then an unusually large one hits the shore and catches the unwary bather by surprise. The water recedes and serves as fuel for the incoming wave which by now you can actually see coming. First, there is the swell which gradually increases in size until a crest forms and then, quite rapidly, the wave rises up majestically and crashes around you engulfing you and carrying you away with its intractable and unstoppable power. So it was with Beach House! The vibes had built up over the course of the afternoon and as the sun set, a crest had formed and now, in the semi darkness of the Couva hills, the wild wave of wotlessness broke with full force on the party-goers and swept us all away.

It was at times like this that I wished I trained harder before carnival. For months I had been working out diligently lifting weights in the gym and getting in my cardio on the basketball court and I needed every ounce of strength and stamina to survive that onslaught. There are times when editing these pictures that I discovered some shots that simply did not remember (especially the ones that I am actually in)! Thank goodness I have a camera because according to it I had a DAMN good time and so did pretty much everyone around me. As night engulfed us, the party exploded into action and everywhere you looked, there were people having a great time. If you wanted to wine and get on bad, there were people around you doing that. If you wanted to cool out for a bit and catch your breath, you could ease on out to the perimeter of the wildness and take in some breeze and enjoy the view. If you wanted something to eat, you could head over to the food village and chow down (of course by now, the lines were staggeringly long but the food was still hot and plentiful when you reached the front). The more I walked around the fete, the more I was amazed at the variety of the demographic present and the range of their activities. There were people from all walks of life and age groups happily rubbing shoulders (and other body parts) together doing whatever felt good all the while enjoying the sensation of being in a fete where you didn’t have to worry about drinks, since they were always there for the taking; food, if you didn’t mind waiting a bit, you could have all you wanted; good music, the DJs were out of their minds all night with the tunes they selected and the pace they maintained; and as for security, you never felt concerned that anything unpleasant would kick off and spoil the night’s activities. To feel such peace of mind in such a huge fete is truly rare and I now appreciate what others have been raving about for years. There is something here for everyone regardless of age, race, nationality, or wining proclivity and in my opinion, that is what makes Beach House the top fete for carnival.

I have posted PLENTY pics from this night but I would encourage you to take your time while browsing through them. While the fete was very full, because of the spaciousness and layout of the venue it never felt too crowded; however, due to the density of the people and how they clustered, I noticed many interesting scenes captured in the backgrounds of some of the pics. Some of the expressions inadvertently captured are priceless and I am sure mirrored exactly what I was thinking as I took the pics. There is one set of pictures I must single out where this fellow decided to wine on a young lady while in a 3 point stance with 1 hand and 2 feet on de ground (the other hand had his drink of course). It started off innocuously enough with man in front and woman behind but then it rapidly took a turn for the worse (or better depending on your view). This is the soundtrack that plays in my mind as I scroll through picture by picture:

Mr. 3 Point winer: Watch me get on wotless now!

Man in Armani Exchange T-Shirt: Ay allyuh, look how he wining, like he need some company in de front.

Strong yet remarkably agile woman: I taking dat! I going and ramfle up his back tonight!

Man in Armani Exchange T-Shirt: Ahm, dat is not what I meant eh. I can’t bear to look. I wants nothing to do with this. I gone.


By this time Mr. 3 Point winer, realizing he is under some pressure, has changed up his contact points. Left foot is now in the air and both hands on de ground. ***It must be noted that the drink was placed safely and securely on the ground and was never in danger at any point. I repeat, no alcohol was spilled during the making of this scene.***

Strong yet remarkably agile woman: OY! OY! OY!

Pardna in a Predator-liming-in-colorful-Bamboo shirt: Oh gosh gyul yuh go kill him, or worse, he might spill he drink. Give him a ease nah. (Tries to pull gyul away)

Strong yet remarkably agile woman: OY! OY! OY!

Pardna in a Predator-liming-in-colorful-Bamboo colored shirt: At least I tried yes. Hard luck breds!

Strong yet remarkably agile woman: OY! OY! OY! Awright, ah done wid you.

Mr. 3 Point winer: So Mr. Cameraman, yuh couldn’t help mih? How yuh do mih like Rodney King so? Yuh just flim de whole scene?

Mr. 3 Point winer: Anyway, is all good. De drink didn’t spill so no harm no foul. At least yuh could take pics of de whole crew now.

This sequence can be found just before the end of the album and you will know it when you see it. Let me know if you think my commentary was accurate.

What else can I say about a perfect fete other than to tell you that when it eventually ended and we all trekked back down the still canopied walkway, we were already planning on attending next year’s event. This is a BESS fete and my only regret this night was that I had not discovered Beach House sooner.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Silent Morning is next……….

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