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Thursday, February 23, 2012

Triniscene Coca Cola Carnival Galleries

Check out photos from Carnival Monday

and Carnival Tuesday

Carnival Tuesday The Saucy Review – YUMA

My costume was PERFECT in every way. Detailed as the prototype and the gems were reinforced with stitching so nothing fell off before or after playing mas all day. I have my costume boxed up post Carnival with no missing parts. Collecting my costume was also hassle free but I was in the group of masqueraders that collected early and as soon as collection opened I was there! Personally I thought my section looked the BEST in the entire band, of course I may be biased but we were stunning under the sunlight.

Compared to TRIBE YUMA is smaller than but not as small as Bliss. The size was comfortable as I was able to find friends throughout the day and made my way easily from the back of the band to the front with little hassle. I had room to maneuver my costume on the road and never felt as if I was being crushed by a mob even on Aripiata Avenue.
Food and Drinks
Drink selection was impressive at YUMA, they did not have a listing of the drinks on the truck but you could see all the bottles of various alcohol lined up. My two drinks on the road Johnnie and Nuvo were available until around 5:30PM or thereabouts. Johnnie finished first then Nuvo right after.

Personally I did not have any food issues as I decided to stick with the snack plates from Monday as they were ideal light fare for the road. Started my day with a fruit cup, had a snack when I exited the Savannah after crossing the stage and I snacked instead of having a boxed lunch.

However, after arriving at the rest stop early, secured a blanket and space under a shaded tree, I was able to observe the break down in orderly line up for food to chaos. Of course those who arrived early had no problems getting lunch though there was not much variety; jerk, Creole and Hakka. The Creole menu was rice, macaroni pie and stewed chicken which everyone in my group had. It didn’t look that appetizing to be honest and it was missing some vegetables and/or salad to balance out all those carbs. Those who had it said it was fine as they were hungry.

The problems started when the Creole food tent ran out of boxed lunch and were boxing on site! They also ran out of chicken. I also saw people being served from the side of the tent as opposed to lining up and there was a shortage of servers as YUMA staff in costume was serving lunch as well. I think that YUMA needs to utilize the space properly if they are going to continue to use CIC grounds. 

Way more tents are needed for masqueraders to sit under or get umbrellas. And there should be more than ONE food tent serving the same menu; for example you can have two Hakka tents, two Creole tents and two jerk tents. Also the menu needs some tweaking and a light option for lunch should be introduced for people like me who do not want a belly filled with rice to hit the road post rest stop.

The good thing is that we rested for an hour and a half, I checked the time, and once the music started up masqueraders were rearing to go! I did not use the fix up tent at the rest stop but some more amenities could be added like a cool down zone. We actually passed Bliss still resting even though they were ahead of us and crossed the stage before YUMA.

I was between truck #1 and truck # 5 and I preferred truck #5 even though truck #1 gave us all three road march contenders to cross the stage with. At some point in time going through St James we got a techno mix; odd choice for Carnival Tuesday but the bands are doing this more and more these days. I had no complaints with the music, if I didn’t like what one truck was playing I simply moved to another.
YUMA followed a very similar route to Bliss last year so we got to the stage early on Tuesday which is always excellent! By 11:30AM masqueraders were already having lunch. I was impressed that we kept moving even though I saw road management working extra hard to get the trucks to move faster and fill the gaps between masqueraders and music especially when turning corners.

We went through St James, down Mucurapo Road and hit the Avenue. Crossed two more judging points and hit Tragerete Road where I left the band. For me Ariapita was not as congested as in years gone by, I fell in behind a truck and had more than enough room to actually jump up. Without feeling as if I was being crushed.

I had no complaints of service from costume collection to on the road. YUMA staff were very helpful the only thing I could make an issue about was the secrecy surrounding the meeting point for the band but I did get an email and Facebook message giving the starting point. Service from the bar staff was quick , never had to wait for a drink and the girls on the snack trucks stocked me up with a variety of snacks when I wanted.

Saw for myself security doing sweeps throughout the band to check for I.D. Anyone without one, even in costume was escorted out of the band. This continued all day as my friend was booted as she came to say hi to me. When the President joined the band there was even more security since I was close to his mobile VIP truck. Police with machine guns and grenades…..really?!

Ok I am going to be brutally honest here; YUMA was way LESS Brooklyn than I had heard they would be. Now I do not know what “Brooklyn” means to be honest, maybe it is a code for the behavior of the masqueraders but I kept hearing that YUMA is so BROOKLYN from other people before I decided to play. 

Well the masqueraders I met and saw on the road were all a friendly bunch out to have a good time. Yes the band may not be as diverse ethnically as others bands, let’s be real here YUMA has less of the red/curly haired/Indian/Chinese/mixed masqueraders than other popular bands BUT that is and should never be an issue even though I know for some people it is, not for me however since I fit into none of the aforementioned stereotypes. 
The friendliness was evident on how many random men greeted me with a wine…. let’s pause here to acknowledge the fine specimen of YUMA men… and kept moving. If that is “vibes”, this thing I have been trying to quantify for so long I can vouch for the fact that YUMA has vibes overflowing! I also saw many people that I know who made the switch from other bands and people who I know socially as well. Granted not as many people as if I played with TRIBE or Bliss but I did not feel I was playing in a  band without seeing a familiar face.

Overall I was very glad I decided to try something new for Carnival 2012. What I have come to realize is that as a masquerader you need to come out of a comfort zone and see what else is out there and stop being afraid that the experience would not be the same especially if your current band is not satisfying you on some level. That was me, band loyalists until I decided to leave TRIBE but didn't stray too far as I went to Bliss. Everyone I spoke to who played in different bands this year all seemed to have an equally great time; Island People, Fantasy, Spice, TRIBE, Bliss... so what is it that makes one band seem to be offering something vastly different from the other if you have not experienced another?

In all this the lessoned learned is that we masqueraders have choices and that bands are now becoming very competitive. Each band is narrowing the gap between what they claim to be the best experience until it is going to be that experience is standard and something else differentiates one band from the other. For me this year I went with costume and I am extremely happy that I did as I managed to have the combination of a fantastic road experience with a fabulous costume; what else could I ask for?

2013 is going to bring even more choices, more options as people have been asking me if I am going to stay with YUMA or return to Bliss. Honestly it depends on what the latter brings in terms of costuming as I was grossly disappointed in Bliss costumes for 2012. Seamless perfection on the road is what Bliss is excellent at, however, but sometimes you need unpredictable imperfection to spice things up; perfection can sometimes be boring.

Counting down the days until band launch!

Carnival Monday The Saucy Review – K2K and YUMA

On Carnival Monday this year I spent the majority of my time in K2K Alliance with several visits to YUMA (My Tuesday band) since both bands assembled close to each other and followed a similar route.

The quality of craftsmanship on the sewed pieces was excellent. The actual costume looked like the prototype with slight variations; for example the corsage for Saraswati Sea was actually bigger than the original. I did not collect my costume myself but the packaging and presentation was also very well thought out as the costume came in a garment bag and the other pieces along with the “goodies” came in a nicely made duffel bag. 

costume in garment bag 

Inside the duffel bag was another drawstring bag, snacks, cup (with lid), spa products from Cher Mere, Facial Scrub, Vitamin C packets, lotion and toothpaste. All this with very little sponsorship!

goodie bag and goodies

There was a problem with the delivery of Monday wear, headpieces and backpacks with other members of my group having to go back to collect missing pieces on Carnival Sunday and one of my friends never got her backpack even though it was promised to be delivered on the road Carnival Tuesday. Needless to say this put a damper on the excitement of wearing such beautiful costumes.

costumes at collection

Costume design is the strongest element of K2K as everyone kept stopping to ask what band this was as the costumes were stunning and in their own league of avant-garde mas.

K2K competed in the medium category and on Monday the band probably had only a couple hundred masqueraders present. Now I was a bit apprehensive about playing with such a smaller band than I am used to but I can definitely see the pros of having a small band. You would never lose your friends, getting a drink was easy, and crossing the stage was wonderful with the entire band on stage. This has reinforced in my mind that I am more comfortable with a SMALLER band than one that is mammoth in size.

Food and Drinks
The drinks truck was late on Monday because they were stuck behind TRIBE. I left and went to YUMA who were having a great time on the road headed to the Savannah. 

YUMA on Monday 

 Drinks there were flowing, had my NUVO and went back to K2K who were still at the meeting point. I also went back to YUMA while they were crossing the stage and had snacks from their snack truck that was parked along the Savannah . Eventually K2K’s drinks truck arrived along the route to the Savannah and the bartenders were clueless as to what was available though service was quick. I asked for Johnnie and one said there was none but was able to get from another bartender.

Drinks Truck Finally Meets the Band

After crossing the stage I left K2K went to YUMA (planning to meet up K2K at their rest stop) and decided to have lunch with YUMA as well. That is when I saw the insanity to get into CIC Grounds with just ONE entrance and a mob of people who had to get their security bands checked. 

YUMA @ CIC Grounds Rest Stop

Many people opted to sit under the trees on King George the V Park and since the snack trucks were parked there with plates all spread out nicely for taking that was my option for lunch on Monday with YUMA. It was easy and the snacks were just the thing for on the road to me instead of a huge meal; we had samosas, kebabs, mini spring rolls, chicken fingers, drumsticks, pies, sandwiches and saheena.

We never found K2K ‘s rest stop as they did not stop as we thought they would and they also never served lunch on Monday. 

There was one D.J. truck and to tell the truth the music selection was fine for the road. The best part was that we asked for the song we wanted to cross stage with and they obliged so we crossed to Iwer’s Jab Molassie which made crossing the stage an even better experience.

The starting point for K2K at Lord Harris Square should have positioned them right behind Bliss and/or YUMA IF they had any road management to co ordinate the route. Unfortunately road management was virtually nonexistent and after Bliss, YUMA and Fantasy all passed us assembled on the corner of the square one of the masqueraders spoke to a member of K2K to advise that we get in front of TRIBE who were making their way up Abercromby. I believe they were waiting for the drinks truck at this time but masqueraders fell into place soon as Fantasy’s wee wee trucks passed us by and the truck eventually pulled out onto Amercromby Street even though TRIBE had already sent their banner ahead.

Fantasy Passing Us By

Road management is serious business, you see the crew from other bands (such as TRIBE and Bliss) with their headphones directing the trucks where to go, the pace to move at and scouting out the road ahead for any other bands blocking the route. K2K needs to hire a crew to do this for 2013 as the lack of any road management made getting the band moving along the route a painful process.

Service from the Norman sisters and affiliates was faultless from registration to on the road Monday (although they needed to be on the road before masqueraders arrived). They kept us updated with Facebook blasts and apologized when there were delays.

We had none or even security bands !

K2K was made up of a mix of older and younger masqueraders with very few men in the band on Monday (I saw them on Tuesday and the males were better represented). The energy level in the band was great, everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and were friendly with each other I mean it is a small band so you get to know your fellow masquerader on a different level .

Overall I enjoyed K2K Alliance on Monday though I think there is room for improvement on some key areas which if addressed can position K2K as a leader in their genre of mas for the future. The fact that this was not only K2K’s first year but also that the bandleaders have little Carnival experience was evident in the issues that arose. For 2013 my advice would be to get counseling and direction on how to manage a band from veteran band leaders, hire a road management team, secure a resting stop for masqueraders, make sure food arrives on time and keep designing beautifully artistic costumes.
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