For YEARS I have been told either “Shakera, you have to play mas in Trinidad!” or “Ain’t nothing like Trinidad Carnival”… but still I had never had an opportunity to attend. Well, Trinidad Carnival 2014 comes along with Carnival Tuesday falling on the BIRTHDAY of my carnival sister! That sealed the deal... And besides, with the Carnival Spice and Everything Nice website launching this Spring, it only seemed fitting to visit the mecca of Caribbean Carnival beforehand.
For Trinidad Carnival 2014 I was on the road with Yuma as they presented their theme “Cirque” where Carnival meets the Circus! After wearing several mas costumes in my lifetime, I am very particular about the color choice I wear on the road. I LOVE bright colors and have often selected bright blues, pinks, or orange. This time I was looking for either a yellow or green costume so I can finally have the opportunity to represent my Jamaican ethnicity through my mas! Sadly, yet not surprisingly, those color choices were not available this year. After careful deliberation, I picked Yuma’s section “Immortal”. I have no idea what Immortal has to do with the circus (lol) but it did not matter. I fell in love with the costume immediately. The gold, the detailing, the chains, the headpiece, all gorgeous! I instantly envisioned how the costume would reflect the Trini sunlight as I chipped for hours on end. If this costume sold out before I registered I would have been devastated because THERE WAS NO PLAN B!
This was a stressful process to say the least. First of all (for those who are unaware) Trinidad costumes often sell out very fast AND many of the top bands do not allow “public registration”. Therefore, the costume of your dreams can slip away easily unless you know someone who knows someone – Ha! So annoying. Thankfully, a friend referred me to a service provided by the Carnival Connection that specifically helps international masqueraders with this very problem. In summary, you pay the Carnival Connection a fee and they order your costume choice in Trinidad on your behalf. It was genius! We registered day one and day two we got THE EMAIL.
I passed out for about 40 seconds! Lol. It was official. My first time playing mas in Trinidad would be with Yuma vibe AND IGOT MY FIRST COSTUME CHOICE, Immortal!
I did not know what to expect during this part of the process. I was simply excited and hoped for the best. Well positive vibes do produce positive results indeed. We showed up, waited in a line for about 15 minutes then were directed to an area where I could pay the remainder of my balance and pick up my costume. If you hate walking with lots of cash, I recommend paying for your costume in full online.
My costume came in a cute little box accompanied by a cute little patent leather messenger bag. I like cute things so we were off to a great start.
My Yuma branded “goodie bag” was filled with a bunch of little trinkets that you can bring home as a souvenir or use on the road. The only souvenir I really needed was my headpiece but I appreciated the gesture! Inside the box, sat my beautiful golden costume that looked EXACTLY like the picture advertised… I think I teared up in my right eye at this point. The gentleman helping us could not stop laughing at our reactions... I think he thought were were crazy. Then we told him it was our first time playing mas in Trinidad and his response was “Ohhhhh, Well Then... CARRY ON!”
Just when I thought this moment could not get any more perfect, the song below started playing! HA – #Bliss!
"We Ready For Di Roaddd"
I had a great time both days on the road with Yuma. My experience was filled with endless food, drinks, sunshine, soca, and pretty people in pretty costumes. The YUMA bar ran out of ice a couple of times, but hey, no one’s perfect. Big thank you to the YUMA "extraction" crew who helped keep us safe and organized along the parade route. Toronto Carnival could use some extraction CREWS... (indirect message to band leaders)... You can see in the photo to the left, the extractors are all holding hands. This helped prevent my section (and anyone behind us) from going the wrong way before we crossed the stage. Big up to all the deejays on the road even though they didn't play ANY dancehall! lol... I girl can dream :) I felt quite proud seeing D'Enforcas doing their thang with Yuma - repping all the "Canadians" on the road. I had another proud Canadian moment when a D.J. played "Worst Behaviour" by Drake! That was the ONLY hip hop song I heard the whole day... #Big MY Road playlist included "Junction" by Machel Montano,"Truck On Di Road" by Bunji Garlin, and "Shake Dat" by JoJo. If these songs were playing you know that you could find me right beside the speaker! ...EVERYONE else lost their mind when "Big People Party" by Farmer Nappy came on! Machel's "M.O.R' was the road march, Kerwin's "Too Real" was undeniably THE groovy track, BUT "Big People Party" was THE song for Carnival... I say this with the most neutral opinion.
Now the YUMA masqueraders were a good time. Everyone was smiling, I didn't see any fighting, and everyone was either dancing or chippin'... no stush people welcomed roun' here! ha! The ladies looked lovely on Carnival Monday... and the men, I thank you for working hard on those abs! Yuma provided everyone with a pair of shorts and socks to wear Carnival Monday but mostly everyone wore something else. The Monday costumes were so creative and shined bright in the sun. There were variations of monokinis, feathers, and beads that I had never seen before. I was in awe so much that I didn’t take any photos! That should say a lot. I did a little better Carnival Tuesday with the photo taking. Check out some of the YUMA massive in the photos below:
"All yuh get in yuh section"
Ironically my section "Immortal" was in first position to cross the stage #Epic... It also felt amazing to be a part of Trinidad Carnival history by being the FIRST section EVER to cross Trinidad’s new Socadrome stage. Normally masqueraders “cross di stage” in the Savannah however this year the four largest bands (Tribe, Bliss, Yuma, & Fantasy... I think) headed down a different route.
"I jumpin up, me an meh crew, watch how we just doin it E.P.I.C"
Immortal Male & Female Frontline
... She bad <3
As our band made it's way down “the avenue” I spotted Toronto MUA Nikki D. This lovely lady works fast! She applied some gems and sparkle lips to the birthday girl and me.
Eh Eh! Look who Nicky found in my section! It’s the Queen of Bacchanal Destra Garcia. Yuma had a few performances along the route including 5 Star Akil, Olatunji, Nutron and Destra... I totally missed Destra's performance though! (Stilllllll not sure how though!)
"La Nouba" (Misfits)
When I first seen this costume I wasn’t really into it - not gonna lie. On the road however this section looked awesome and the entire crew wore the costume well. Head to toe customization from their belts to their cups! loved it!
Woyyyy watch Tara ah bruck whine!
Loved these three and their energy!
My dawlin from NYC - We finally reunite after Miami Carnival
Her shoe game is a 10!
"Iz a winah tuh meh heart, a masqueradah tuh meh hawt"
All the way from NYC … meet the lovely Tamiko
I loved how this beauty was reppin’ her Jamaica flag the entire day!
This beauty wore these wings the WHOLE DAY - like a boss!
Behavin Di Worseeeee!
This beauty makes me want to wear a head piece the next time I play mas!
Toronto massive! Found my homie Camille during lunch break! Best nap ever! Wish I got a puncheon popsicle.
Also spotted Mister Tin-Man ...or so I call him... remember him from Toronto & Miami carnival?
I was so busy chippin’ around town with Yuma that I didn’t get to really see other bands and sections during the day (when the photo light was nice). However, I managed to get a few snap shots of Tribe. It felt like Tribe masqueraders and trucks were everywhere! lol
Spirit Seeker (Tribe)
Everyone I seen wearing this costume looked amazing!
This costume was designed by Project Runway winner Anya Ayoung-Chee
Thank you Yuma for a great time and great investment… An area of improvement would be your bra manufacturer. I had to re – sew and alter the strings on both my bra and my friend’s bra for it to fit. This meant not wearing both our leg and arm pieces because we needed the extra string to fix our bra! The bra was the right size but it did not fit because the quality was low. I read several other reviews and many folks mentioned the same problem. Use bikini bras or actual bras NOT a crossover between the two. Also please provide snacks if you say you will. Now I have souvenir “snack chit” that I would have loved to use … That is all… I am still smiling though!
Stay Tuned For Part 2 Of My Trinidad Adventures!
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YouTube: Simply Shakera