Carnival Reviews

Houston Carnival 2022 Review

By Posted on 8min read62 views
Houston Carnival costume
Houston Carnival was by far THE HOTTEST event I had attended.

Due to the pandemic, Houston Carnival was my first jump in 2021. I had a fantastic time with IzahFeter and knew I would be happy to return the following year to catch a vibe. Since then, IzahFeter rebranded as Vogue Mas, and I was  excited to show support to Wendy and her team for the launch. 

Houston Caribbean Festival (HCF) was from June 30th – July 3rd. Here’s my review!

If you want to read about my 2021 experience, click here.

Where I stayed.

I stick to what I know. I enjoyed my stay at the Intercontinental – Houston Medical Center in 2021. I knew without a doubt that I would return. 

As an Intercontinental Ambassador and Dimond Elite member, I enjoy guaranteed room upgrades and complimentary breakfast for two in the morning. I’m not talking about the complimentary breakfast from the Holiday Inn. I’m talking about a full menu selection of a la carte options. It was more than expected, and I always left breakfast with food on my plate.

I loved going to the bar…daily. I chatted it up with the same bartender from the previous years, and he poured his good vibes into one of the BEST old-fashioned I ever had.

The hotel is situated in the heart of downtown but not too noisy. The drive from the hotel is about 15 minutes to the meetup point. if I am being honest, it didn’t take long to get anywhere I needed to go from that hotel. It will remain my “hub” whenever I return to Houston.

The parties.

Since it was HCF’s 20th anniversary, I focused on checking out events sponsored by the association.

Houston Carnival J'ouvert

The event was nicely situated in a large open field. We arrived with clear directions, ample parking spaces, and an easy entry experience. Although I had just met Grace, I found that she and I were a lot alike: We scoped the scene from afar and just took in the energy. Imagine Infectious joy, The bass shaking your bones. A bubble machine pushing effervescence into the atmosphere, disobeying suggestions to not sit on top of the scaffolding, flags from all over waving in the air. FIRE. Jab jabs. 

Food and clothing bordered the concert for us to enjoy. Later on, Talpree took to the stage. At that time, I could tell the weather was turning. Seizing the opportunity, I grabbed Grace’s hand and snuck us behind the stage. Next thing you know, we were dancing on stage right behind Talpree! Things were getting too lively, and parts of the stage showed signs of impending collapse.

Consequently, many of us were taken off the stage for our safety. But then rain fell heavy, and the music dissipated quickly. Everyone sprinted to the cars. We had considered waiting until things died down before heading back out, but a) MUD. If you know me, you know I am not a fan, and b) We never got any paint or powder. What’s a J’ouvert without it? I was expecting to follow a music truck anyway. And so, we decided to call it a night.

Houston Carnival Pool Party

 The venue was minimally decorated, but the pool deck had cabanas and chairs for people to enjoy. Despite the sun and the large pool, most patrons sat around it, watching face. Black people go to pool parties to not get in the water, though? 

To be honest, the DJ left a lot to be desired; for the first time, I went to a fete where I internally begged for Soca music. I found myself a bit deflated by heavy rotations of Hip Hop and Rap music. I did enjoy the sun and the vibes from familiar faces, but I ultimately cut my time short.   

AWM at Sunday Night Mas Vibrationzz Mas
Check me out in my camel toe glory.

Sunday Night Mas

** Not sponsored by HCF** 

Vibrationzz Mas was a road band but has since transitioned to a Sunday Night mas event. Their customer service and event left a solid impression on me, and I was happy to return. This year, they elevated the Monday wear options. I was torn between the two sections but opted for the two-piece D’or Camella. Distribution had some hiccups, but we all received emails about the distribution status well in advance. The Monday wear arrived from Trinidad Saturday night, and they delivered it to me (while I was sleeping). The Monday wear was more beautiful in person and well-made. Due to the fabric used, a natural seam down the front of the panty.

As a consequence, it made for some major camel toe. Who was going to look that close anyway? I laughed it off with the band leaders via text. 

The new venue this year was comfortable, and we enjoyed the concert behind the stage as VIP. In the back of the venue was a vendor selling doubles. As a patron of the Monday wear, the VIP had its own mini-bar, and premium drinks were included. Kudos to you, Vibrationzz Mas!

Houston Carnival with Vogue Mas

Houston Carnival on the Road
Hot, Humid. But I had fun!

Having met Wendy in 2018 when she was a section leader with Mirage Mas, I always appreciated her love of her masqueraders and her desire to see them all happy.  She poured her all into Houston Carnival 2021, and had no doubts that she would make some magic happen this year.

Registration for Houston Carnival

Vogue Mas had a live band launch which was aired live across social media platforms.  Shortly after, the website launched.  I was really impressed with how easy the website was to use.  To be honest, the only thing that was difficult about registering with Vogue Mas was making a decision which costume I wanted to purchase.

Costume Distribution

Vogue Mas gave ample notice of the distribution schedule and location.  Members of the team took to IG live to show eager masqueraders that everything was waiting for the along with the little goodies they would get to enjoy. 

I arrived the Friday prior to pick up my costumes. I underestimated my fat loss and came to a harsh realization that I now need to start ordering small thongs instead of medium.  Either way, Avi, Jason and Angela were prepared for almost anything.  A sewing machine came out and my panty was taken in while I waited.  All in all, I received exactly what I paid for, and was really happy someone was available to take in my panty.

The atmosphere was calm, organized and inviting. I enjoyed more jello shots than I should have while I waited.  Once everything was good to go, I picked up Grace’s costume and headed back to the hotel.

Houston Carnival Road Experience

The parade was scheduled to start at 3pm. The meet-up point was situated in an Auto Zone parking lot, and ample parking was available. While we waited, I took advantage of the fish tacos served and took sips of water mixed with the Liquid IV. Part of my costume stayed in the car. It was THAT HOT.

Side note: the black Hebrew Israelites were out at the start point handing out pamphlets. If you want to read about my first run-in with them in Charlotte, read here.

Houston was the hottest, most humid Carnival event I have ever attended. Hovering at 94 degrees, many were not prepared for the heat. Vogue Mas was the most prominent band, and its size dwindled quickly over time. By the time we reached the first judging point, 50% of the band was gone. By the final judging stage? Less than 25%. Plenty of water and rum punch were served from carts on the road. We did run low on the ice at some points, but it was addressed quickly.

Stay in your section?

The only sour point of my road experience was having a section leader try to force me to stay in my section. Mind you, Bliss was one of the smaller sections, and my carnival newbie was in the section ahead of me. Not only did I want to fete with her, but I also wanted to ensure she was okay. I was naturally very irritated by this experience and ultimately lost sight of Grace. The good thing is we already had a contingency plan if something like this happened.  

Unfortunately, she sent me a pin drop and told me she had developed heat exhaustion. The members of Jam Design Concepts (Avi and Jayson) took good care of her. I made sure she got in the van to cool off and took the rest of my time on the road alone. By the end of the parade, most of the band had given in to the heat. When we arrived at the carnival village, whoever was left took to the stage. I took advantage of this opportunity to avoid a long food line and ate before returning to the hotel. 

Meeting Grace.

AWM with Grace houston carnival
Lifetime bonds is what I love about carnival.

I interact with almost all of my followers. At any rate, Grace and I strummed up a conversation about Carnival, and she said she wanted to go. Not sure what led me to invite her to come with me, but I did. Besides, I do love taking carnival newbies with me and love sharing the experience.

On the flight to Houston, I asked myself if I had made a mistake. Granted, she and I had been in communication since March, but I, in all essence, did not know her. But you know what? Grace was a breath of fresh air. She was Calm and attentive. I enjoyed helping with her costume, matching her in Carnivalista pasties and fishnets, and teaching her to walk sideways in a feathered backpack. 

I took her to J’ouvert and discovered that she and I have a similar fete approach: Study the scene first and then jump in and have all the fun. Our personalities and personal experiences were insanely similar. I cannot help but feel that this experience with her was divinely led. In a matter of four days, I gained a sister.

This is what I love so much about Carnival.

The strangers that become friends and family, even if you only see them on the road or at your favorite fete. I can’t wait to see her again!

Parting Thoughts on Houston Carnival

Compared to Houston Carnival 2021, there was a significant improvement in the parade route, for which I am grateful! A lot of work goes into planning and getting approval for the parade route. I totally applaud HCF’s improvements for 2022.

I was left a bit deflated by the pool party. The bottom line is that I expect to hear soca music for association-sponsored events for carnival.

There seems to be a clash between how Carnival used to be and what masqueraders expect from Carnival today. Several bands in the United States call for dance routines and an organized chip. Expectations of the masqueraders should happen before registration. I expect to roam freely until it’s time to cross the stage. I spoke with Wendy afterward, and she said there was a misunderstanding. I hope this won’t be an issue in 2023.

I hope to see HCF in 2023 and can’t wait to see how they will elevate the next experience.

American Wines Matter Logo

Share

By

Latest Posts

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 ...

Charlotte Caribbean Carnival 2022 Review

By Posted on 6min read63 views

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. 

American Wines Matter Logo

Share

By

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 from the move cross-country.  This year, I committed to checking out one of the smaller Caribbean carnival events in the United States. From the time Lisa took me under her wing all the way up until the last fete, I developed a deep love and appreciation for what event coordinators endure to put their culture on display.  Coordinating a Caribbean carnival event in the United States is challenging due to serious cultural barriers and negative perceptions.  Now imagine fighting to put your culture on display in the SOUTH.  Lisa and the board members get all the flowers for what they do.  Read on to learn about my experience, along with parting thoughts.

South Carolina Carnival Parties

Still dealing with lingering fatigue and cough from COVID, I missed J’ouvert. 

Carnival Block Party

SC Carnival Block Party

The parade ended, and all masqueraders were directed to the main stage.  For 1-2 blocks, vendors lined up on both sides of the stage. But this was definitely not the event that you had to stand in long lines for a plate.  SC carnival staff also had a plentiful bar to serve drinks. We had super heavy rain during the parade, and I decided to go home quickly to shower and change.  When I returned, it looked as if the rain never happened and things were lively. plentiful food and other vendors to enjoy. Kiddie moko-jumbies stole the show for most of the afternoon. I connected with new and familiar faces over good food, drinks and vibes coming from the stage.  My favorite part of the block party was watching Hypasounds perform near the end. I was looking a bit too hard, and next thing you know, he was staring right back at me with his arms crossed.  I’ll live it down eventually. But Hypasounds, if you’re reading this… call me LOL.

Soca Is Life

South Carolina Carnival Soca is Life

I had no idea that teamsoca came down to South Carolina Carnival almost every year.  In partnership with SC carnival, they curated a lively event at the Main Course, one of the most beautiful restaurants in downtown Columbia. Soca played non-stop, and I for the first time saw DJ International Stephen on stage. The restaurant continued to serve into the late hours of the evening from a limited menu, which was a plus.  I loved the fried oysters.

Punch'D

Of all the fetes, I looked forward to Punch’D.  Everyone talks about Lisa’s rum punch, and I was looking forward to trying it.  I headed out to the Robert Mills House and Gardens.  It was an indoor/outdoor venue.  Due to the sweltering temperatures and humidity, the inside was a bit more crowded than I cared for.  But I enjoyed the displays of cultural pride, and I LOVED Lisa’s rum punch.  I ran into new and familiar faces, and hid when Hypasounds showed up.  Yes, I was still embarrassed. Near the end of the fete, things took a turn to some old hip hop and R&B.  Being an 80’s baby, you had to know I ate that right up.

Road Experience with Karikolorz Mas

Costume Registration and Collection

Registration was very simple.   Provided this would be #2 of 7 jumps this year,  I appreciated the price point for the experience.  As things progressed, Tawana answered all questions about my order.

Costume collection was delayed, but I appreciated transparency and expectation management. Tawanna created a group chat for all of us to communicate, and nobody was left in the dark about when they would receive their costumes.

When he arrived, the designer took care of each masquerader himself.  I am glad I looked at the entire costume before it was placed in the bag.  Unfortunately, important pieces were missing, and without them, I wouldn’t have been able to wear the costume.  Luckily, the designer took care of everything on the spot before I left.  When I got home, I tried on everything and made some minor adjustments.  

The Road

South Carolina Carnival
Moko Jumbie thief's a wine

Karikolorz Mas provided details of the parade route and clear instructions on the meet up event. I would guess about fifty of us were gathered.  Pandemonium Mas from North Carolina joined us with their own truck. Island Buzz came out in their Monday wear, and a few revelers brought their own costumes. There had to have been about fifty of us.  But the rain came, and changed the outcome.  About 25 of us took to the road.  The parade started late.  As a result, the half-mile route moved quickly.  The rain was so heavy that keeping my eyes open was a chore.  But it’s not the first time I’ve been baptized in Carnival, and it won’t be the last. I did a lot of observation– the parade route i had plenty of shade and was on one of the widest streets of Columbia.  My imagination was flooded with a future of a full road, with feathers dancing happily in the wind. The parade ended where it started, but we partied in place before the police told us we had to wrap things up and take it inside the village.

South Carolina Carnival Parade
One thing I appreciate is a wete fete.

Overall Thoughts

South Carolina carnival celebrated its 9th year, and I have no doubt its 10th will be a success.  Although small, Lisa has the intellect and grit to navigate religious and cultural barriers in one of the states that was a stage for the Civil War.  As she delicately navigates these waters, I am proud to know this phenomenal woman who puts on an event for pure love for her culture.  

The block party she puts on every year is free to the public, and these efforts come out of her pocket year after year. South Carolina carnival didn’t receive their usual grants this year, but she made it happen anyway.

Earlier this year, I met Lisa with a potential sponsor, who later declined and ghosted her for fear of how sponsoring such an event would collide with the values of the (other) communities he services. The treatment she gets from potential sponsors is nothing new to her and other event coordinators in the United States.

Lisa could ask me to wear a potato sack to support her events, and all I would ask is that it fit me well.

Love on the small US Carnival events.

Many people expect Carnival in the United States to hit like the island countries and abroad. As a result, many of us have Carnival events at our front door, but will jump on a plane to catch a vibe elsewhere.

United States Carnivals will likely never come to the same level as overseas, but it is important to highlight that these US events still reflect West-Indian communities.  While I can’t attest to the challenges overseas carnival events face, I can comfortably state that there are many roadblocks overseas carnivals do not have.  Nevertheless, small US carnival events still deserve our love and support.  

Because of Lisa’s tenacity and pure grit, I can’t wait to see what she does in 2023.

You’ll catch me next at Charlotte Caribbean Carnival.  Stay tuned!

American Wines Matter Logo

Share

By

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, Entice Mas announced a move to the (downtown) Atlanta Carnival sometime after 6:30am carnival morning.  I looked forward to returning to where my carnival love story all began.  But at the end of it all, I just hung on for the ride and focused on making the absolute best of everything. 

If you aren’t aware, Atlanta-DeKalb Carnival was cancelled after 11pm the night prior. Some bands couldn’t migrate downtown at such short notice. As a result, many put their costumes away and found something else to do that day.  Luckily for Entice masqueraders, we got a road experience.

Atlanta Carnival Parties

Vaval Weekend's Koölər Fete

What was supposed to be an outdoor event turned suddenly indoors due to a noise complaint.  As a result, the DJ turned off the music for a while, and the team moved everything inside the venue. This happened before I could get there.  But when I arrived? It was vibes.  I don’t drink a lot of alcohol, so it didn’t make sense to buy into a cooler. Instead, I got a drink at the bar.  I arrived late to the event, but the girls I was with had such a great time, and it showed!  One more drink later, and I executed my designated driver duties.  But I can tell you that for the time I was there, it was a great vibe. I wish I could have stayed longer.  Of all the fetes we attended, the girls said Koeler was #1, hands down.

Overdose ATL

Overdose ATL: “Truck Stop Edition” was hosted by Spoogy the Boss.  I enjoyed a large truck fitted with an amazing sound system, and the bar served top-shelf alcohol.  We enjoyed different genres of Caribbean music; Soca did not reign supreme at this fete.  I just scoped the scene and took in the postive energy. Things went a little left when a young lady tried to brace herself for a wuk up my holding on to our table.  The table folded and sis went flying. Luckily for us, we had already finished off the Casamigo’s.  I don’t remember seeing any food vendors inside the venue, but I enjoyed the doubles served outside it.

Tingo Phoenix

Atlanta Carnival | Atlanta Dekalb Carnival | Tingo Phoenix
The dress code was fiery colors, and my friend here brought some serious heat!

The Wolfpack Experience has a solid reputation for curating some of the best events in New York.  The event started a little late, but when things ramped up, I enjoyed myself. We enjoyed a table and bottle in the VIP section and hookah while taking on the vibes of strictly Soca music.  On the cusp of moderate to severe intoxication, I had to take it down several notches. We left earlier than we wanted to go to Colorgasm, and we all expressed bitterness.  This was my favorite fete.  My girls ranked it #2.

Colorgasm

Colorgasm Atlanta Carnival, Atlanta Dekalb Carnival
Feting with my favorite familiar faces

I’ve been told that colorgasm is a must-go for years!  I had fun going through a maze of colored panels to get inside the venue.  The moment I made it through, the venue set the tone by covering me in paint before I could put my phone away.  Dressed in a white bikini and my typical j’ouvert combat boots, I met up with my girls who pre-paid and had a great time.  Unfortunately, all that was left was water and beer.  I love a sweet wine, but experienced a lot more daggering than I cared for.  Either way, I had fun and saw many familiar faces.  Many people complained about the amount of Dancehall, but I personally didn’t mind it.

Vaval Road

Vaval Road Atlanta Carnival Atlanta Dekalb Carnival
Follow the Truck!

Vaval road was my way of getting a taste of what playing mas with Xuvo was going to be like. Dressed up in Monday wear, I took rounds following the vibes of the truck while enjoying the great drinks and food served. I was looking for a taste of “bam bam wall”, but I guess that will have to wait until I get to SLU.  I promised my family that I would make time for them during this trip, so I couldn’t stay as long as I wanted.  But it was a lot fun, and I can’t wait to follow other Vaval weekend events in the future.

Atlanta Carnival with Entice Mas

Costume Regisration

I feel that Entice mas had one of the best presentations for the Atlanta-Dekalb Carnival.  While watching the band launch at the venue, the website went live for registration. I loved that!  But the website crashed and had to be relaunched later.  But registration was easy. After that, we received invoices to complete payment and occasional email updates as reminders, and the bandleaders promptly answered my inquiries.

Costume Collection

Things got a little dicey with the costume collection.  When I arrived, many stood outside, and the process was unclear. I waited almost an hour when I got a text message that my costume was elsewhere.  I drove to the other location for about thirty minutes. The body wear was precisely as described, and everything fit perfectly.  I intentionally wore some tights and an unpadded sports bra, so I could slide everything on to ensure it was a perfect fit without getting undressed.  Unfortunately, there were severe production issues for the backpacks, but I got it later the following day. I loved the custom cup made for my section. I don’t typically keep road cups, but I will save that one.

Atlanta road experience

carnival costume with wire bra

I cannot imagine how much sleep the band leaders of Entice DID NOT GET to make a last-minute move downtown. I give them all the flowers for coordinating this last minute.  

I arrived early enough to secure a good parking spot.  The church nearby provided their parking lot for a $10 fee.

The parade started with some confusion. Entice masqueraders initially could not have foot or drinks. The beef patties and the rum punch were especially good. Public alcohol consumption laws were modified in 2020/2021, which may be why we enjoyed rum punch on the road. I don’t remember having it in the previous years.

Not as congested as I thought it would be.

I happily enjoyed the bridge and ATL skyline. Due to the migration of 6 bands two weeks before, along with the unexpected influx, things were definitely a bit tighter than usual, but nothing overwhelming. We cut through a neighborhood as we neared the village, and I enjoyed giving the dogs lots of scratches and love while the residents took pictures.

The end of the experience was abrupt, and we were just told to go into the village.  Directions weren’t entirely clear, and people started to get frustrated.  My social battery was drained and my tolerance limit was reached, so I didn’t stick around.

We Kinda Ting Costume Distribution

WKT distributed their costumes at the DoubleTree Hilton.  It was BY FAR THE BEST costume distribution experience I have had in my US carnival experiences. I saw clear signs directing traffic, and ample staff to answer questions. I enjoyed light refreshments while I waited my turn.  I was checked in, and left within thirty minutes.  The goody bag was cute and stuffed with amazing snacks. I root for the success of all bands, but sprinkle extra love and vibes for WKT because I started with them. I was thrilled to see them execute such a streamlined, professional experience

Overall Thoughts

The fetes made a lot of things sweet.

The fetes saved my Atlanta/Atlanta Dekalb Carnival experience. I wondered if I would feel differently if I didn’t attend any.  I am not the biggest fete goer, but now I appreciate how they set the tone and elevate the vibe, despite what could be going wrong.  Don’t laugh at me, but someone had to explain to me the process of ordering a table.  Additionally, I have learned that I don’t want to drive much during these Carnival weekend events. I will start using Uber more. As a designated driver, I can’t free up as much as I want.

There were disappointments, but I still love you.

Carnival is a grounding experience for me, but I went home not feeling as spiritually rejuvenated after.  As a masquerader and someone encouraging many to come to Atlanta/Atlanta Dekalb Carnival, I felt betrayed when I read an article stating there was an advanced notice that event permits were denied.   The pointing of fingers saddened me. Visuals of a downed light post and complaints neighborhoods were never given a heads up came through. Reports of masqueraders urinating on personal property.  The local news coverage of the turnout made my heart heavy, and I fear how Carnival will look in the peach state come 2023.

Level with me so I can manage my time and money.

2022 is Entice Mas’ first year. I reasonably expected some hiccups.  As always, timely production, clear guidance, and transparency are important to me. I am understanding, and I want people to level with me when things aren’t going right so I can manage my expectations, money, and time correctly.

Hoping this sparks positive change.

I believe that for Atlanta and Atlanta DeKalb Carnival to thrive, leadership must be changed.  But it’s not about “firing” people.  I would like to see the collaboration we have cried for since the split in 2015.  Two Carnival events on the same day do not speak to Carnival’s message: Unity.  With the significant events that occurred two weeks prior, during and the aftermath that followed, I believe the city will push hard against future events.  Things obviously cannot continue as they have. Caribbean Carnival in the United States will always clash with American values. From what I observed, multiple points of failure serve as ammo to restrict or prohibit it further.

I will continue to show support .

In my last blog, I said I would sit out 2023. Three weeks have passed, and I feel differently. I love mas too much, and I will always have a soft spot for Atlanta. The shortcomings of a select few should not leave anyone prepared to turn their back on something that reflects the culture and the West Indian community in Atlanta. 

American Wines Matter Logo

Share

By

Atlanta-Dekalb Carnival 2022: Parade canceled.

By Posted on 3min read56 views

My carnival love story started with Atlanta-Dekalb carnival back in 2015.  Every year, I look forward to returning “home” to pay homage to the event that literally transformed by life.  Over the years, there have been issues with some bands, and every year there has always been shit-talking among the rivaling associations. Yes, there are two “Atlanta” carnivals, and it has been that way since I started.

On May 10th, it was announced that 6 major bands had left Atlanta-Dekalb carnival and moved to the original downtown Atlanta parade.  Citing a reduction in allowed music and ancillary trucks on the road, several bands needed to merge together to make things work.  I did an interview with Chigga, the president of the ACBC, who reassured that there would still be a great experience to be had by all, and was impressed that this complication spoke to how much the event has grown.  I was optimistic.

What happened this year was beyond egregious.

Atlanta Dekalb Carnival announcement
The cancellation of the parade was literally announced after the 11th hour of the day.

I heard rumblings of a cancelled carnival from reliable sources, but chose to wait to say anything until official word was received. It wasn’t until after 11pm that evening that the ACBC announced the Atlanta-Dekalb carnival parade was cancelled, citing their permits had not yet been signed, and that Dekalb police could not hire enough people to cover the event.

Atlanta-Dekalb Carnival News
According to a news article, the ACBC were notified on May 19th. Click to read the full article.

Last minute move to downtown.

I contacted the band leader, who said they were working to figure out if they could go downtown.  Around 7am, I saw an IG post notifying us of the move.  I slept like a mummy to preserve the makeup from the night prior, and headed downtown around 9:30 to secure good parking.  I will discuss my road experience later.

The following day, rumblings of news articles and media coverage surfaced regarding the mess left in the downtown carnival village, along with complaints from the neighborhood as masqueraders urinated on their property.

Patricia Henry, the leader of downtown Atlanta Carnival, pointed fault to the Atlanta Dekalb revelers that came downtown.

It should be noted that not all bands were able to join the downtown parade.  It should also be noted that the community was not notified that were were coming through.  Most importantly, it should be highlighted that downtown Atlanta’s parade route was changed days before their parade

It's the lack of accountability that makes me angry.

The ACBC knew one week before their permits were not approved. They blamed the Dekalb County police department the night before the parade.

Instead of taking responsibility for failing to notify the local community and ensuring proper staffing for trash cleanup, the downtown event president pointed fingers to Dekalb revelers.

I believe a leadership change MUST happen if we want to see Carnival in Atalnta next year…. BOTH associations.

I know the outcome is not my fault.  My coverage of the Atlanta Carnivals was out of pure love, and was in no way sponsored.  And yet, I feel responsible because I cherish my influence.    As a military professional, a leader, I’m used to taking responsibility for things that are not in my control. This is something that I will continue to struggle with for some time to come. This is definitely not my cross to bear.

It breaks my heart knowing that I will be sitting out future events for some time.  As always, I will always root/cheer for every Carnival event out there. Successful events mean everyday people will fall in love with Carnival, like I once did. And so, I’ll be patiently waiting and watching to see when I can come “home” again.

American Wines Matter Logo

Share

By

Jamaica Carnival 2022: “Tough Luck.”

By Posted on 3min read44 views

Jamaica Carnival will take place July 10th this year and was announced with advanced notice of 103 days.  Check out my previous blog if you aren’t sure why this is such a big issue.

Before the announcement, there was open dissonance about when Carnival in Jamaica should happen.  The band leaders of Xodus and Bacchanal JA were full-court press to shoot for a July date.  Meanwhile, Xaymaca International advised it would be best to wait much later (possibly October). 

Jamaica Carnival in July benefits...Jamaica.

Carnival in Jamaica Xodus
Oh yes, this is definitely a life-long memory. But when are you going to turn your comments back on?

July 10th date for Jamaica Carnival 2022 is problematic to masqueraders for two main reasons:

  • Masqueraders get an advance notice just shy of three months amid the Russia/Ukraine conflict and seriously inflated gas prices. In other words, plane ticket prices are insanely high, and many (myself included) have already committed to other events. To clarify, there is little-to-no time to prepare for overseas travel.  Is it fair to cancel my St Lucia plans after paying for my accommodations and costume in full? 
  • July is one of the busiest carnival months and will be held despite other scheduled Carnival events: St. Vincent, Cayman Islands, and Saint Lucia. Hosting the carnival event potentially pulls revenue opportunities from those sister Island countries who also felt the impact of COVID-19, but waited in turn with more time to prepare.

One might ask: Why are they in such a rush?  While I can’t speak for the people who have made this decision, I would postulate that the revenue is needed.  In other words: Their pockets are light, and their bellies are empty. COVID-19 has crippled the tourism and entertainment industry for more than two years, so people are eager to have their events at the expense of thousands of masqueraders.

 

What the bands are doing...so far.

Jamaica Carnival Xodus Customer Service
It was an "us" problem until outside opened. Now it's all on "you" as a patron.

Bacchanal JA has not made a statement on how or if they will support those who cannot (or don’t want to) attend.  As for Xodus, I received a screenshot stating they will not honor refund requests nor roll over anyone’s money to the following year.  Due to the nature of the situation, the likelihood of most people selling their costumes successfully is low.  To make things worse, expect a 5% restocking fee if you can sell it. Honestly, I think they can’t wait to resell those costumes themselves to fatten their pockets.

Jamaica Carnival

"Hey masquerader, take this 'L' for us."

My personal experience with Xodus left a lot to be desired.

Even if I could make Jamaica Carnival, I wouldn’t want to jump with them at all.  I cannot get over the betrayal.

The debacle with Xodus is especially hurtful to the masqueraders who put faith in the team. For example, consumers were asked for flexibility for two years. Nevertheless, that flexibility won’t be reciprocated.

From what I can see, Xaymaca is moving honorably.  Recognizing the strain on their masqueraders and the potential impact on the sister countries, they put out a statement that they will be sitting this year out.  They have not stated what they intend to do with masqueraders requesting refunds.

In conclusion, the drama with Jamaica Carnival 2022 has left a bitter taste in my mouth. What’s the most disturbing about this whole ordeal is that Xodus has demonstrated they are willing to chess-piece their patrons into eating the risk of their business.   While I won’t be attending this year, I feel so slighted by this whole situation that I wonder if I’ll ever consider going to Jamaica Carnival.  But if I do, you’re going to see with me with Xaymaca hands down.

American Wines Matter Logo

Share

By

X