My name is Shamair and I am a carnival junkie and fetaholic. I write this morning with a number of frustrations that are rising because carnival season is creeping upon us once again. After years of hurdles I am finally making my way to Trinidad Carnival. I’ve always heard that the band to play with is Island People (IP) …and that’s the band my heart has been set on since I purchased my tickets (not to mention the only option at this point since errbody else has probably sold out all the good costumes by now). Unfortunately, Island People Mas is not serious about getting this money. But, I’m still waiting patiently for their registration to launch.
This situation with IP is bringing back a number of memories and horror stories with other bands and fete promoters. I am not going to bash any of them but I would like to offer a few suggestions for all current and future Carnival Bands and promoters. All stories are told without band, fete or promoter names. They know who they are..bruhahahahaaaa (insert spooky voice).
Miami Carnival 2K10 – We Had Ah Time!
1. Be Mindful of Your Supporters/Customers: Your masqueraders/feters want to be in your band and attend your fete for one reason or another. Maybe you costumes are high quality. Maybe your bars never buss. Maybe your fete is featuring their favorite DJ. Whatever the case may be you have a duty to NOT let them down. They don’t have to give you their money but they want to because you provide or claim to provide a service that they desire.
Happy Times All the Time on Limerz Cruise – Barbados 2k13
2. Communication is key: Granted, situations arise that may or may not be out of the organizer’s control. Regardless of who is at fault the band/promoters has a responsibility to keep their customers informed. The worst thing is for people to be inconvenienced without knowing why. If you don’t want people posting nasty messages on your Facebook timeline or blowing up your cell phones LET THEM KNOW WHAT’S GOING ON. Chances are they may be more understanding (note that I said “may”). If something doesn’t work out during an event explain what happened as soon as you can. They may not believe you, but you should still do it. AND FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THINGS SENSIBLE … do NOT go MIA when things go wrong. That makes you look 100 times worse.
a. I am reminded of a time where I went to pick up my costume and was waiting for HOURS. The room wasn’t packed but I was given ZERO information as to why it was taking so long. Come to find out, something had gone awry with the shipping of costumes and the crew was literally making costumes on the spot. WHAT?!! You could have told us in advance that the costumes weren’t ready. You should have also made sure that your pieces arrived at least one week before the event. To this day I am STILL waiting on the rest of my costume SMH.
b. This one is even better: I paid to attend an event this summer and it never happened. Ha! The promoter’s fete a few weeks prior had just bombed and they were under much scrutiny. I inquired through various sources to get information about the fete and got pure CRICKETS (chirp chirp)!. Rumor had it that the event was rescheduled but where was the communication. Rescheduled would have been good…but it was like it was never supposed to happen. All the Instragram flyers they had posted about the event disappeared. $30 gone down the drain! (insert flush)!!
Miami Carnival 2k11 – The Horrible Year on the Road
3. Follow Through: If you say you are going to do something or provide a service please DO IT. If all your customers are like me (which most of them are when it comes to an investment) you need to follow through and keep your promises. If you say you are going to launch on August 23rd…launch on August 23rd. If you say your going to start your fete at 7:00AM…start your fete at 7:00AM.
a. I recall a breakfast fete in Brooklyn last year that was supposed to start at 7:00AM. I wanted to get there early to avoid traffic from New Jersey and to be sure that I got the free breakfast that was promised to me. Tell me why de people just now setting up at 7:30AM. WHAT?!!! How is this okay? Note to organizers: Not every black person operates on “CP” time. I don’t like a crowded fete and I love to wine alone. Don’t take that away from me just because you thought that no one would show up at that hour. Sound check should NOT be happening at 7:30 in the morning for a 7:00AM start time. I need to be let in at 7:00AM and on the dance floor no later than 7:05AM especially when there are only 10 people in line.
Crop Over 2k10
4. Plan Ahead: I often sit and wonder if the band and event organizers actually sit down and have meetings with each other to be on the same page. I THINK a lot of bands started out with a bunch of friends who said, “hey, let’s start our own band”. Some work out… some flop. Why, because they have people that know not what they are doing. When the time nears for any event you should meet with your team more frequently and confirm exactly who is responsible for what. You should not have unreliable or irresponsible people on your team. I don’t care if they are your friends…it’s business. Check with your sponsors, your providers, your drivers, THE VENUE for crying out loud… check with everyone to make sure that things are going as planned. More importantly, have a back up plan! I remember one Miami Carnival the band I was with had ALL the masqueraders waiting on the field for the truck after ALL the other bands had already went on the road. We had ZERO information and were later told that they were waiting on the ice truck? What?!!! Ice?!!!… we could have danced without ice! I feel that was a very large fib.
5. Don’t Stretch Yourself Thin: I know a lot of bands come from out of town for carnival season. If you are leading a band in a state or country that you don’t reside in, you and your crew may want to get down there in ample time to organize yourselves… and by ample time I don’t mean 1 or 2 days. You chose to do this so you need to make that sacrifice from your 9-5 so that the people that invested in you are happy. Are your venues in order? Did all your supplies make it through? Are the DJ’s confirmed? Did you secure a rental? The list goes on. If a crucial member of your team can’t make it down in advance you need a back up plan and you need to know everything that they know. I can only imagine the weight on your shoulders but once you collected that first dollar…you are officially on the spot.
6. Don’t Be Greedy: If you know you need to order your materials by a certain date then you need to STOP your registration in a timely manner. Don’t squeeze in more masqueraders if you can’t accommodate them! If adding more people to your band is going to delay the making hundreds and sometime thousands of costumes for individuals that registered before them….DON’T DO IT! Don’t hold up the process because YOU want more money. Or how about this one: if you know the venue can only hold 1000 people, don’t sell 3000 tickets. Then you want to get mad because po-po say pahty done. Why is this so hard? Greediness will get you nowhere as many New York promoters have learned this summer. Allyuh will get shut duuunnng! Not only that, but the loyal customers that invested in your fete/band every year will throw up those good ole deuce signs.
Canboulay 2k13 – Epic….
Canboulay 2k14…Epic but in a not-so good way
Alright…I’m done for now. But before I go I do want to shout out a few bands/fetes/promoters that STILL have their stuff together:
BAJE International (Barbados) – Allyuh relll organized and costume quality is bessss!
Limerz Cruise – You never let me down…food, vibes, organization. Yuh bad so!
ShorBlu Events – Keep the quality events coming!
Summer Crew (Grenada) – Awesome Communication and great vibes!
OHPsalms – No words…. They can imitate, but your Memorial Weekend experience can’t be duplicated. RAINBOW BOAT!
I used to have more favorites but the quality has diminished. So these are all the props I will be giving today. Peace!!!
Atlanta Carnival 2K13