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Monday, April 18, 2011

2011 Trinidad Carnival - D’Original Vale Breakfast Party

Greetings peeps, and so we come to one of the most hallowed traditions of the Trinidad Carnival experience, the breakfast fete, and this year I decided to make a change to my regular fete lineup to check out one of the stalwarts of the genre, D’Original Vale Breakfast Party. Since I started attending breakfast fetes over a decade ago, Vale was, in my opinion, hands down the best fete for carnival. Back in the day this was a small fete primarily held in the yard and in the street front of one house and one of the greatest features of this fete was that you were almost guaranteed to know half the people there first hand and most of the others you would likely have seen there before. The music was excellent and the drinks and food were included so there was nothing left to do but enjoy the sunrise while partying with friends and acquaintances.

As with all good things, word spread quickly and over the years the size of the party grew rapidly which made getting tickets much more of a hassle even for long time attendees. It was for this reason that when Sunny Side Up launched their own breakfast fete, I decided to make the switch and after totally enjoying Vale for many years, I moved over to SSU and for the next several Carnival Sunday mornings had a great time partying with them. Over the years, I kept hearing good things about Vale and my friends kept trying to persuade me to give it another look so this year I decided to return to the root of all breakfast fetes to see how things had changed.

I arrived around 4:30 am to find the party pretty much empty which was fine with me since I typically would spend the first hour reconnoitering the venue and sampling the fare that was provided. Since this is a breakfast fete, I decided to start there and after devouring fresh phoulori, meat pies, potato pies, and several hot doubles, I felt well satisfied with the choices that were available. At this early hour the lines were very short and there was virtually no waiting to get the food of your choice. I then moved on to the bar and was very pleased at both the physical size of the bar as well as the number of bar staff inside it. The alcohol available was both premium and plentiful so I enjoyed Grey Goose and Red Bull all morning and I am pleased to report that my wait to get refilled was never long even at the height of the fete.

Belly filled and blood/alcohol level well on its way to a reading of respectably intoxicated, I roamed around the fete meeting up with friends, liming, wining, and generally taking in the sights. The party was many times larger than when last I attended but despite its size, there was still a warmth and a character present in the fete that by and large is lost once a certain threshold is crossed. As you can see in the pictures, the venue was definitely full but it wasn’t crowded. If you wanted to wine as a mob, you were more than able to do that but if you didn’t, there was ample space to wine and not be brushing shoulders, elbows, and anything else you were moving up against the people next to you. The size of the party did afford one the opportunity to view many different varieties of partygoer in their natural habitat without having to travel very far and this made for many hours of interesting gapeing.

If you wanted to observe the moderate partygoers, there were there all dressed in their finery, nibbling on food and sipping their drinks while chatting amongst themselves about moderate things and maybe bussing an occasional small wine. If you wanted to see the socialites, they were represented as well however they didn’t really partake of the food since there was a chance it could spill on their clothes or shoes. Like the moderates, they did sip their drinks and chat but they did so in the shade and of course there was very little if any wining going on. If you were looking for a more extreme partier, there was the hardcore-parkour feter who incorporated their surrounding environment into their wining. Examples of this type of winery varied from wining on a bench, to handstands against a wall (much props to you, Miss Upside Down Ting) to around, on, and actually INSIDE the BLINK cage. Woii Woii!

The traditional “crews” at the Vale fete were also there but they were a bit more structured than I remembered. Of course there was D’ Wall Crew resplendent in their white shorts, orange t-shirts with matching fedoras controlling things on the wall in front of the DJs with Mr. Chiney Winey himself holding it down on the ground in front of them as D’ Ground Control. Across from them was the Roof Crew and as their name implies, they did their partying from the roof of their house and from the looks of things, they had a fantastic time up there. There were also a couple wotless crews in the crowd such as a sexy crew of Wotless Jamaicans and a group containing Wotless Fete-ing, Tick, Bald, and Spanish tings. It wouldn’t be Vale without water hoses to cool down the people and I saw at least 2 while traversing the fete but since my camera doesn’t do well in water, I avoided these spots and unfortunately I hear I missed out on several Kodak moments. CUSS! Ah well, one can’t be everywhere and I think I took more than enough pics to illustrate the good time that was being had by all.

The Vale fete is a DJ only fete which suits me just fine. After weeks of feteing with bands, it is good to know that this fete will be nonstop pace and will not be subject to the vagaries of an artiste’s performance. Vale however does invite select artistes to perform and today Mr. Iwer George graced us with his presence and MASHED UP THE FETE! Despite having just one main tune this year, Iwer showed everyone present why he is truly the big man in the business. From the time he instructed the DJ to “Play mih de riddim” he had the crowd hypnotized and hanging on his every word so when he called for the people to come to him, they came to him, when he told them to go away, they went away, when he said the people wanted water, the water flowed first from his hand, then from the hoses that instantly appeared and when he abandoned his 2nd floor roof/stage to come down and perform amongst the people, it was all over. After that, the party really got out of control with hardcore-parkour winery everywhere and at one point I even saw Spongebob taking a wine on a lady’s back. It was REAL PRESSURE up in this piece! By now the sun was high in the sky and everybody was in a nice place with nice people having a nice time so what more could you ask for?

Sadly, the party had to end but when I tell you that the 7 hours I spent in D’ Vale FLEW by, I am not exaggerating. True during the course of the morning I did lose track of a couple half-hours here and there but it seemed like no sooner had I gotten nicely inebriated and settled into some constructive winery, that the sun leaped into the sky and the next thing I knew, it was 11:30 and people are filing out of the fete wiping their brows and smiling from ear to ear. This was an excellent fete because not only did it capture the magic and intimacy of years past, it did so on a scale so large that I though would not be possible. I was happy to be proven wrong on this matter and I believe that D'Original Vale Breakfast Party has now drawn me back into its fold at least for another year.


Carnival Monday with Bliss is next…………….
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