Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

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when is tobago carnival, tobago carnival 2022 Tobago carnival 2022 is in 57 days, but there…

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Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

Tobago Carnival 2022 Costumes

By Posted on 1min read70 views

when is tobago carnival, tobago carnival 2022Tobago carnival 2022 is in 57 days, but there is ...

Picking your Carnival Costume

Picking your Carnival Costume

By Posted on 3min read67 views

Pick your carnival costume, pick your carnival outfit, carnival costume selection, how to pick your carnival ...

Choosing your carnival band

Choosing your carnival band

By Posted on 3min read60 views

So you have decided to participate in Carnival and now you are overwhelmed trying to decide ...

Picking your Carnival Costume

Picking your Carnival Costume

By Posted on 3min read67 views

Pick your carnival costume, pick your carnival outfit, carnival costume selection, how to pick your carnival…

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Choosing your carnival band

By Posted on 3min read60 views

So you have decided to participate in Carnival and now you are overwhelmed trying to decide which band to join.  This can be totally overwhelming for even the experienced masqueraders.  Most people choose to go with the suggestion of their friends or word of mouth.  Some may even research blogs and suggestions from influencers.  The truth is finding the “right” band is totally subjective and based on your needs and expectations.  Below are my suggestions on how to choose a carnival band. 

To read about getting started with Carnival, click here.

#1: Budget.

When choosing your mas band, it is important to consider your budget. Ask yourself: How much do you want to spend, TOTAL? Then, How much of that do you want to spend on a costume?

Many are eager to jump for registration without considering the cost of travel, parties, accessories and other outfits.  Decide how much you can spending total, then decide how much you feel comfortable spending on a costume.

You may find that your costume budget may not be right for the most popular band, but perfect for the smaller ones. 

choosing your carnival band, choosing your mas band, how to pick a mas band how to pick a carnival band

#2: Amenities

If amenities are important to you, review each band and what they offer with your carnival experience.  You may find that some bands offer your favorite costume but not many frills you want, such as portable toilets, air-conditioned trucks to rest on, touch-up trucks, etc.  

Note: This recommendation speaks mostly to overseas carnival events. If I am being honest, I’ve found that most amenities offered by many US bands per their websites don’t make it on the road.  Note that I said many, and not all.

#3: Music

Carnival is exploding in popularity and with that come masqueraders from all over the world.  You will find that some bands may choose to play music to represent their masqueraders, or the crowd that is watching the parade.

But when I play mas, I prefer to hear MOSTLY Soca music. Some bands have a reputation for playing some bands have a reputation for playing mostly Dancehall or other genres.  If you are interested in a band, ask to find out what their music is like. In most cases, you won’t know which DJs will be on the truck until closer to the parade.

choosing your carnival band, choosing your mas band, how to pick a mas band how to pick a carnival band

#4: Your “fete” style and other needs

For the absolute best time, seek a band that matches your energy level (or vibe).  Not every masquerader is looking for a high-energy experience.  For example, if you are looking for a more relaxed experience, high-energy bands will likely not be the fit for you.   

If customer service and an intimate experience with band members are essential to you, a smaller band may also be something to consider.  Bands with fewer masqueraders can provide a more personalized experience as they have more staff and the capacity to address each masquerader’s unique needs.

#5: Band History and Trends

When you find a band that meets your interests, ask around and do a little digging before you drop that non-refundable deposit. It’s not a  matter if a band will have logistical issues, but when, and how it will affect you. How bands handle tough situations is VERY important.

Reading social media comments, blog reviews, and asking around will be important with determining if you want to patronize a particular band and/or section leader.  As you become more experienced, you might get hip to fantastic bands, but section leaders with an unreliable history. Until then, do as much digging as possible, and trust your gut.

Have fun picking your carnival band!

I hope these tidbits help you with choosing your band.  By the way,

DON’T SLEEP ON THE SMALL BANDS! They are great, too. 

Not everyone needs to jump with the most prominent, band to have a great time.  Take each of the factors I have listed and prioritize them according to your needs as you make a decision.

If you have any other suggestions, be sure to hit the comment box below.  If you have any specific questions, you can also email me at: hello@americanwinesmatter.com.

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Should we Gatekeep Carnival, or Step Up?

Should we Gatekeep Carnival, or Step Up?

By Posted on 7min read64 views

I am well-rehearsed on the highs and lows of learning and navigating the nuances of a…

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Tobago Carnival 2022: A quick guide.

Tobago Carnival 2022: A quick guide.

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tobago carnival 2022, when is tobago carnival, carnival in tobago, tobago carnival Tobago has been widely…

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Trinidad Carnival Bands (you may not know)

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2023 will mark three long years since the last Trinidad Carnival. Some seasoned Trinidad revelers might want to try something new. Some of us may want to experience Trinidad carnival with the locals. Some of us will wait too long to take the leap and need to find a costume with a band SOMEWHERE.

When I started to research Trinidad Carnival, all I could see were the bands under the Tribe umbrella: Tribe, Rogue, Harts, Pure, Bliss, and Lost Tribe. So imagine my surprise when I discovered lesser-known bands!

Can’t knock Tribe’s marketing power, but there are PLENTY bands in Trinidad prepping to offer you (possibly) a cheaper and more intimate experience in 2023. Read on!

trinidad carnival bands

8 Trinidad Carnival bands you may not know about.

1: Exousia Mas

Exousia prides itself on being a customer-focused band. They offer superior customer service with a down-to-earth vibe to match. The band is launching their costumes on August 26th. Their theme this year is: “Sanctuary.” So be sure to check them out!

2: Ronnie and Caro

Trinidad Costume
Check out "Utopia" designed by Nisha Felice for Ronnie and Caro 2023.

Ronnie and Caro has been around since 2008. This band is very well known in Trinidad and has done a lot of costume production for many of your favorite bands and sections. Ronnie and Caro already launched their costumes this year. The theme is: “This is Paradise”. Ronnie and Caro pride itself in superior customer service for their masqueraders and quality costumes. 

3. Utopia Mas

Trinidad Carnival Costume 2023

Utopia Mas’ theme this year is: “Mas Kya Dun”. Be sure to check out their website and social media links for more information.

4. Paparazzi Carnival

Trinidad Carnival 2023 Costume
Check out this gorgeous costume designed by Rawle Permanand for Paparazzi 2023.

Paparazzi has been on my radar since 2018. Over time, I have noticed that the costumes compete with the popular bands, with a lower price point. In addition, some of the costumes are created by my favorite designers. So be sure to check out their options for Trinidad Carnival 2023.

5: K2K Alliance

Trinidad Carnival K2K Alliance
Think Lost Tribe, but on steroids.

K2K screams “traditional, but make it luxe.” K2K alliance offers a no-feathers, more traditional mas experience with costume designs you would wear when Trinidad carnival is over. This year’s theme is “World Wars – In the Time of Solomé.” Be sure to occasionally check their website and social media links for updates.

6: Jam the Band

Jam the Band
Don't sleep on their designs!

Avi and Jason do a lot of design and production for some of your favorite bands. But they also have a band in Trinidad! Jam Designs Concepts has designed some of my favorite costumes in the past year. I wore their design for Miami Carnival 2021.  They also power Vogue Mas as a band and its traveling section.  Be sure to check out their instagram for updates on its upcoming launch.

Newer bands/More intel needed...

Trinidad Carnival Costume Showtime Carnival 2023
Check out this costume for Showtime Carnival 2023.

trinidad carnival bands

There are a couple bands on my radar, but I don’t have a lot of information. , or they are very new. So be sure to check out the following periodically.  I will update this blog when I get more information:

Showtime Carnival – Theme: Metamorphosis

Resonate Carnival

I Hope this quick blog expands your vision beyond the big Trinidad Carnival bands!

Besides, the less popular bands deserve love too! So, which less popular band would you consider jumping with in 2023?

I will be headed to Trinidad next year, but I have not decided my band. So keep your eyes peeled. You’ll never know where I will turn up.

If there are other less popular Trinidad Carnival bands I may have missed, comment below!

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Travel Essentials for Carnival Chasers

Travel Essentials for Carnival Chasers

By Posted on 5min read62 views

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Houston Carnival 2022 Review

Houston Carnival 2022 Review

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Houston Carnival was by far THE HOTTEST event I had attended. Due to the pandemic, Houston…

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Charlotte Caribbean Carnival 2022 Review

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I had no clue about Charlotte Caribbean Carnival until I moved back to the east coast. For the most part, I knew only of Caribmask, as I had played mas there in 2019. But Charlotte Caribbean Carnival was June 24-26th.  Here’s my review of my road experience with Island Buzz.

Where I stayed

Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel
Lobby of the Kimpton Tryon Park Hotel in Charlotte, NC.

As a Diamond Elite member and Intercontinental Ambassador, I try my best to rack up as many loyalty points for that dream vacation to the Maldives.  I stayed at the Kimpton Tyron Park Hotel, which is a short 7 minute drive to the parade route.  I’ve been fostering kittens since my dear Tara crossed the rainbow bridge in March, and decided to take them with me.  What I love about Kimpton Hotels is that pets stay for FREE.  As a Diamond Elite member, I also enjoyed a complimentary room upgrade, and breakfast in the mornings. Situated in downtown Charlotte things got noisy at night, but didn’t keep me from sleeping.

On the Road with Island Buzz

Charlotte Caribbean Carnival Island Buz

Island Buzz (CLT) is a traveling band and section.  Like Unity Mas Band, masqueraders who purchase a costume can reuse at different locations for a significantly reduced fee.  If you are a budget masquerader hunting a great vibe, be sure to check them out.

Registration

The band leader (Tiffany) was highly responsive to my inquiries.  Registration was very easy, and the payment schedule was easy to follow.  Carnival costumes can be a bit pricey, and I liked how Island Buzz offered Afterpay as a payment method.  With hopes that carnival will be more accessible (affordable),  I wonder if other bands will offer this in the future.

Costume Distribution

2 days before distribution, I received an email from the band leader stating that the designer had not fulfilled costume orders in its entirety.  The following day, I got another email about how backpacks were en route. She said she had purchased body wear in NY for us to wear. 

Still confused, I contacted Tiffany for expectation management.  She conceded that she had backpacks and bras, but alternate arm pieces, head pieces, and panties.  

When I arrived at the distribution point, I was in and out within 25 minutes. The feather backpack wasn’t compete, but I didn’t notice until much later. The alternate headpiece was cute, the panty was an acceptable replacement, but there were no shoulder pieces.  The leg pieces were very small, so I decided to use them as bracelets.

Road Experience

Charlotte Caribbean Carnival
Photos by: @jrsnare on instagram.

The parade was scheduled to start at 11 am.  The band leader stated she wanted masqueraders at the start point by 10am, but I knew better.  When I arrived at 11:22, the truck was not there.  I looked around and took photos with other masqueraders, but noticed many were wearing their backpacks upside down.  At distribution, the shoulder part of the wire was not bent, and many masqueraders had to figure it out themselves. But I helped as many as possible until the parade started.  The masqueraders didn’t have cups, but there was plenty of bottled water handed out, and rum punch in pouches. I appreciated that no litter was left on the road because the truck was ready to take any trash. 

The only costume band.

There was only one truck on the road; Island Buzz was in the front, while other masqueraders and T-shirt bands trailed behind.  Despite the complications, the road experience was a lot of fun. OnTrack played all the right tunes, which maintained the energy.  The parade lasted 3/4 of a mile, and I was sad that it was over so quickly. A major highlight for me was the onlookers who brought their dogs. Naturally, I had a good time petting as many as possible. The parade ended once we were inside the village, and masqueraders who knew the dance routine took to the stage and had their fun.

 

The Carnival Villiage

Charlotte Caribbean Carnival Village

The village had great attendance and plenty of vendors.  Unfortunately, bathrooms were initially nowhere to be found, and I ended up making my way to the bushes.  Island Buzz arranged hot food for its masqueraders, and I enjoyed curry chicken, rice and peas.  Charlotte’s Ms. Haiti and Carnival queen performed.  Later that day, Mr. Killa stole the show.

The Black Hebrew Israelites...

As I left the carnival village, outside stood a military-style formation of 100+ men chanting songs for women to cover up their bodies. With no police present.

“Hey sister….. (inaudible) in a dress… just make sure… it does down… way past your knees…”

“hey sister… be effeminate please…. Wear a dress…. Cover up… your body.”

 

The audacity.

I initially laughed… until I decided to leave.  Never in my life have I ever questioned my safety at carnival until that day.  I looked at the map and breathed a sigh of relief that I would have to walk in the opposite direction of where they were posted.   Once I got to my car, I found myself filled with pure rage.  The day after Roe v. Wade was overturned, I faced a formation of black men slut-shaming the culture and my body, while pointing a camera on me.  I respect the right to protest, but it must be done legally.   They MUST know how to do a legal protest, but they waited until all the police were gone to come out to shame and intimidate women with their massive formation. I was TRIGGERED.  As I was leaving, I saw Charlotte PD headed in their direction. I hope they were forced to disperse.

Overall Thoughts

Charlotte Caribbean Carnival is one of those events that I can comfortably say is a great way to get started with participating in carnival.  The larger carnival events can be overwhelming, and smaller events are definitely more budget friendly.  Don’t be afraid to start small before you work your way up.

The Black Hebrew Israelites are problematic as HELL.  First of all, who comes to someone’s cultural event to shame it? Secondly, if you are going to protest, protest legally, so everyone present feels safe.  Rumor has it they attempted to join the parade as a band. I swear people are buying audacity in bulk these days (I got that phrase from a follower).

Island Buzz was the only costume band on the road, followed by three other tee-shirt bands.  I would definitely like to see more costume bands, but I love seeing T-shirt bands, as not everyone can afford a costume. Everyone should catch a vibe at their price point!

 

Room for improvement.

I would like CLT carnival communication to improve.  I purchased a ticket for J’ouvert and anticipated a separate email as indicated in their IG posts.  No one was available to explain that the address was on the confirmation email, and was not a separate email from Charlotte Caribbean Carnival.  There were several patrons asking the location of J’ouvert, with no response.  I don’t know why the venue was so close-hold, but if there is no one available to assist patrons, the address needs to be widely known. Provided I paid to attend, I still feel very miffed by that experience.

There’s always three sides to any story, but I appreciate Tiffany’s efforts to track down our feather work and purchase body wear (on top of what she already spent) to ensure we all had costumes to wear that day.  Although a small road experience, Island Buzz was definitely buzzin’.   If you’re interested in Island Buzz, they will be on the road at Jacksonville Carnival, Tallahassee Carnival and Caribmask (Raleigh). They also have a section with Party Room Squad for Miami Carnival 2022. 

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South Carolina Carnival 2022 Review

South Carolina Carnival 2022 Review

By Posted on 5min read52 views

I tried to check out SC carnival last year, but I was a bit too tired…

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Atlanta Carnival 2022 Review

Atlanta Carnival 2022 Review

By Posted on 7min read49 views

I was supposed to attend Atlanta-DeKalb Carnival this year. Due to an unexpected turn of events,…

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