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Sunday, April 05, 2009

Where's security at?


When we received the order of this bands list on March 30, I admit to feeling disappointment that some of the bigger bands are past the top 3.
1. ERROL ACHUE - Mas Toronto
2. LOUIS SALDENAH - Louis Saldenah Mas-K Club
3. NIP DAVIS & COREY HOWARD - Nip Davis & Associates
4. MARLON SINGH - Callaloo
5. MARCUS EUSTACE - Carnival Nationz
6. JAMAAL MAGLIORE - Toronto Revellers
7. DEXTER SEUSAHAI - Tribal Knights
8. JESSIE MATHEWS - Jessie Matthews & The Calabash Company
9. FRANK RAMSAROOP - Borokeete Canada
10. WHITFIELD BELASCO - Pleasure Players
11. MERVYN SKEETE - Connections - TCC
12. COURTNEY DOLDRON - Doldron, Doldron & Associates
13. CURTIS EUSTACE - All Spice & ANDRE DEFREITAS - Evolution Carnival
14. SHERRY LEE KAM - Sherry & Friends
15. WILL MORTON - Fantazia International

Since Hubby's (Trini-in-Toronto) #1 Caribana rule is to play with a band in the top 3, that means that I can't consider any of bands whose presentations I'm curious/excited about.

Unless...

Knowing the irritating issue of stormers gets worse every year, it makes me wonder what are band leaders going to do, if anything, about security this Caribana?

In their third year in 2007, Toronto Revellers used orange fencing. While not visually attractive to the spectators watching the parade, I can see the importance of it now, after experiencing for the last few years how much worse it's getting, all these people jumping in with the parade. Carnival Nationz introduced a team of security pulling ropes to keep stormers out (like Trinidad Carnival bands) also in 2007. That annoyed me, because they were also asking masqueraders from other bands to stay out. However, if security using ropes kept the stormers out, ultimately that's good for the CN masquerader. So I expected to see it when we played with them last year (particularly since their prices went up) - but no. I was frustrated with the lack of security. Stormers eventually infiltrated the band. We couldn't help but notice how much the Toronto Revellers masqueraders were enjoying their mas, the vibe in the band seemed true & free - and no wonder, they were free of stormers.

That's the way it should be - you pay your money to display your mas & put on a show for the spectators. It certainly isn't right for teenagers to be able to bust into the band & teif a wine after just 15 minutes on the parade route! Remember: after a certain point on the Lakeshore, when the large barriers & fencing are gone and all you've got are the waist high barriers, that's what the spectators see, a crush of bodies, most not wearing costumes. Maybe if they're lucky they'll see some feathered headpieces here & there. When you ask tourists and locals who made their way down to see the parade what they thought of Caribana, those are the types of comments they make. Is this the impression North America's largest Caribbean festival really wants to make?

Masqueraders: what was your experience like last year? Ideally, I'd like to hear from people in as many bands as possible.

I have a wish for 2009 - to have a stormer free Caribana. Is it possible? What do you say band leaders?

17 comments:

CaribanaVirgin said...

I was in CNz and the stormers really was insane. I think I made it half way down before I eventually gave up.
The thing that was most frustrating is these people storming the band. And getting mad with you when you coming through and your feathers hitting them in the face or something. They acting like you being inconsiderate to them, when they shouldn't even be in the band in the first place.
CNz security was too busy enjoying themselves. They were all up in the band jamming.

Anonymous said...

This is an ongoing problem with Caribana and has been since I have been playing for the last 12 years. I am loyal to XPats who are part of Louis Saldenah's mas band and have vowed that I will not play with them if Louis is further down the parade route - my experience last year when Louis pulled no. 8 was exactly as I thought it would be once we reached the parade route - horrendous! We lasted about an hour and then left. Not sure what the answer is but now that Caribana has grown this big it definitely needs to be addressed by the powers that be - however that is!

Reveller said...

I played with Toronto Revellers last year for the first time. Security for d band was great! Obviously nothing compared to Trinidad, but d security had a job and I found that they were focused and on point for the most part. I saw plenty of security telling d stormers that they couldn't get inside d orange fence. in certain places, rope was also used and security and masqueraders from the band told the few stormers to come out and they listened. Best security I've ever experienced after jumping up in Caribana for over 15 years.

Anonymous said...

security is an issue that needs to be looked at definately. I didn't come across anything inappropriate that security needed to deal with, however, I'm sure there are things that have occured. I hardly saw security staff and that is something to address. As people get drunk, people get wreckless and security needs to be there when that happens.

Tru said...

i cant remember who i played w but they sucked over all. who needs a live band on the road THE WHOLE TIME?! security? they knew nothing about that - there were more non masqueraders than people in costume. hevk there were people in costume who made their own!!! I am unfortunately at the mercy of my cousins who live there, I play where they play.

HQ said...

This line up does not impress me, although I think I know why they did it this way, not truly understanding the logistics of choosing a Caribana band. I played with CNz last year and it was definitely their worst: stormers were a huge issue and it took a very long time to make it down the road. Caribana organizers seem to believe that putting up the fence is the extent of their responsibility security-wise, but it really doesn't end there, nevermind the band security. I have been a loyal CNz-er for several years, wonder how the new Eustace band will fare on this issue?

I have no idea how folk will choose a band this year...I'll be interested to hear accounts of how it all worked out since I don't plan on coming North this year. Keep us posted please!

Do the organizers of Caribana ever actually play mas? They are seemingly oblivious to all the issues on the road, even though there are a large number of bloggers and articles who comment on this year after year. What's going on? Are they simply out of touch?

buublenut said...

Security is an issue that needs to be dealt with. I have seen the larger costumes get destroyed cause of the crowds of people trying to squeeze by. I really can’t deal with all the stormers and if I have to put up with them I rather be in my own clothes then a bikini exposing my self to be grabbed at ones will. Hopefully the band leaders will get the idea this year and advise us what they will do for security and actually follow through. I too remember the orange fence and thought it was ugly 2 years back but now I truly understand. We will see what this year will bring – hopefully Louis Saldeanah will have some nice costumes and bypass the stormers being 3rd in the parade.

~Queen V~ said...

I personally think that the organizers of Caribana should play mas to understand the need of increased security and partitions/barriers between masqueraders and onlookers who want to enjoy the parade. The regular fences are just not enough.

What ever happened to grandstands with happy people sitting and watching with no barriers and a random drunk uncle coming to take a fine whine?? I remember this is how it used to be 20...even up to 10 years back....be it in Trinidad, Guyana, or Toronto, there was still some type of understanding that you can't storm the band and make an ass out of people.

Playing close to last (i think it was 3rd to the end) in the line in Toronto last year, our band didn't even make it out on the road, we played in the parking lot and on the ramp ON TO the road. There were soooo many stormers the only way the police and organizers could control it was to stop all bands from going out. It's such a pity that alot of people couldn't go out. Well me being the wild coot that I am, left my band and ended up storming other bands... lol, once again, hence the lack of security, I was able to do so without hesitation. I did hear that my band was able to come out, at what time, I'm not so sure.

As for this year, if security is same as past years, unfortunately those great bands that we all know of most likely won't make it out on the road...and if they do, it would probably be too late and they would not get the recognition that they deserve. Until Caribana, Queen 'V' xoxo

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Sadly, that is Caribana's dirty little secret, every year lots of people who did the right thing and paid thier money and bought a costume don't even make it onto the parade route. This is because the last few bands can't get out of the CNE before the 6pm deadline. The congestion along the route caused by a lack of crowd control is part of the problem. Some people also blame the excessive number of vehicles in some bands.

Karabana said...

The band leaders walk the parade route with their band, not in costume, but they are right in there, so they experience the stormers. The Caribana festival supplies the barriers & the city supplies the cops, but of course some bands know that's not enough, so they get their own security.

It's up to masqueraders to let their bands know how they feel about the stormers, so bands will provide security. And now is the time!

XPats masquerader (I think I know who you are) ;-) I hear you!
Tru, you were with Callaloo weren't you?
Reveller "Best security I've ever experienced after jumping up in Caribana for over 15 years." - that says it all!!
CaribanaVirgin the nerve of these kids eh? - um, excuse you, you're busting in on my parade, I should be vex with you!
In fact, besides refusing to let them wine on you, I totally agree when masqueraders tell the stormers to get out.

You know, as long as we allow them to jump in with us, they'll continue to think they should be there. We should make a HUGE fuss about it so they'll leave.

Anonymous said...

YES...last year I played with Revellers and I had a GREAT TIME for the reason for that cuz I never had soo much space to jump up and wine up mi waistline on the road before.

When I took a few breaks, I was actually watching the securtiy LITRALLY pushin the stormers behind the orange fences( it was extereme pushing, that somebody could have got hurt, but thank GOD nothing happens.!) I'm was very happy that I actually enjoy myself and got my money worth for most of the part on the road. Cuz almost @ the end I didnt see the orange fence again. Soo for sure, Reveller will be seein me again for this year.JOB WELL DONE.

I was with CNz 2007, I was not too happy it got to a point that I had to be on a truck which is not my favortie place to be.

Anonymous said...

The only answer to the crowding in bands is the fact that the people do not have a reason to remain at the end of the parade route. The police expect people to "disperse"
so they just walk back on the route to the CNE. The parade needs to end in the CNE, period.
The powers out there do not want this solution.

Anonymous said...

Security is a Caribana issue. Yes the Bands do have some onus on the situation too but how can one band stop 1 million people? They can't. I will tell you the simple truth People look out for CNZ. Toronto Revellers didn't have half the stomers as CNZ.Some Patrons of Revellers was in CNZ ( so people doh front). CNZ took a major brunt of the rush. It used to be if yuh come down early yuh could avoid the rush... that is no longer the truth. People know when certain bands coming down the road and ten to one they gunning for yuh. Band Leaders have been telling the Gov't to throw out more walls and security to no avail. We need them to listen otherwise Caribana is going to go down hill once again. Another thing is Bands get volunteers to do some security and then hire out the rest. Security is no longer willing to confront these stormer cause they don't know what they packin ( knife and gun). That is a reality that masqueraders don't factor in but it is something to consider also. So how do you hire security for 1 million people? Yuh can't unless Gov't pays and Caribana officials use the money to benefit the parade and not their pockets.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Its a really difficult situation for the band leaders I agree.Its really tough.Being a popular band like CNZ comes with some huge benefits (like selling out in a week) but it also makes you a target for stormers. The only solution that I have seen that has been pretty effective is the fencing that Revellers used, but it would be really sad to see all the bands having to adopt that kind of thing.... it doesn't add to the presentation.

We played mas on the parkway in Brooklyn a few years ago and there is a small army of police doing crowd control. They did a much better job of keeping crowds out, but if you don't have the support of the city to provide that level of officers there is not much the festival can do.
At the same time, the bands are full of people in band t-shirts, if you ask all of them a rope to hold and put it around the band, I think it would be helpful.

Tru said...

I played w Callaloo last year Kara - they sucked! no security, live music - who wants live music the WHOLE way?

HQ said...

T-in-Toronto you bring up an interesting point. Now Caribana has many more masqueraders than any other N. American carnival, but New York has the most spectators. And as a masquerader in NY you are well insulated from the madness because the NYPD really does come out in force and controls the crowd well.

All in all I hope that Caribana organizers learn from blogs like these and people's opinions. Because I can just see an incident happening not too far in the future....a couple of time slast year I know me and my girls had to get ready to fight. We were lucky because the kids realized we were together and backed off....but that's not going to happen all the time...

Karabana said...

Caribana has 1 million spectators, luckily not 1 million stormers. Although I'm sure when you're in the midst of them it feels like a million.

But yes, it's not an easy job keeping them out of your band. Thing is, we know it can be done. Toronto Revellers does it. Carnival Nationz tried it 2 yrs. ago.
Stormers know they can storm CN when they don't have security pulling ropes. Stormers know they won't be successful with Revellers bc of their security fence.

I can understand volunteer security not wanting to physically confront stormers. There are times when you could be risking your personal safety.
But IMO, it's the job of paid security to protect their band & it's masqueraders. They must be bouncers.

We've all seen just how well the city barricades work. It's time for all the bands to protect their masqueraders with their own security.

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