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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

The people want water!

That appears to be a theme for Caribana 2K11... but more on that in a bit. My experience this year was different, and not only because we played with a different band.

We registered online with Toronto Revellers on May 30th. We decided on Revellers for a few reasons, mainly because we always heard positive things about their customer service and security, which are important for us. As the years go by and the stormers don’t decrease but increase, we feel security is necessary when playing mas on the Lakeshore. Also, as costume prices continue to increase, we expect great service from the band to be included in that price. Having Machel didn’t hurt, either! So I chose a costume that I liked & felt would suit me.

Registering online was easy, as was communication with one section leader Stacey. She always promptly responded to my emails/phone calls for the 2 months, and was friendly and helpful. Of particular concern to me was that the headband headpiece would stay on, and she assured me it would, they’ve been testing it. I thought all the emails she sent showed attention to detail, like letting our section know about an opportunity to have MINX nails done, how our characters are to be portrayed before the judges, (including sending Wizard of Oz video clips), and the change in route map.
Where communication slipped was with costume pickup. We received 2 voice messages on Wed. that the Winkie Guard costumes wouldn’t be ready on Wednesday after all, but on Friday. That put a kink in our plan to drive to Scarborough only once. Trini-in-Toronto drove on Wednesday evening from Brampton to get mine, only to be told mine was also not ready, come back on Friday. Pretty upsetting! Stacey did apologize for that, saying we should have been told, and explaining they took many last minute orders which delayed them. So I agonized for 2 days over whether the headpiece would slip off, and worried that I didn’t have enough time to make any adjustments to my costume if it didn’t fit, which is often the case.

When we went for our costumes at @3:00 on Friday, my waistband was sized & we got them immediately. We got glitter (even the Winkie Guards), glitter stickers, gems, and makeup tips, which was thoughtful for those who are makeup challenged such as me. I had my doubts when seeing the string bra, and the headpiece didn’t feel like it would be secure as is. I figured if it’s windy, it can fall off. But once I tried everything on, I was sooooo relieved, everything fit! I super glued a wire headband under the headpiece headband so it stuck into my hair, and am thrilled to say it didn’t slip off! My boots were comfortable, so no probs there, & no rips in my fishnets, even though I had side chains dangling (just like last time in ‘08!) I’ve never played a character before, & I must say, I enjoyed it, having a particular wicked witch in mind, it made makeup fun.

We judged the band, being #6, would get started in the afternoon, we estimated @3:00. Well, as I told Trini-in-Toronto a few times on Saturday, “I go take de blame!” With the new parade route, the normal entrance to the assembly area was further away, so we had to walk very far through the seated spectators past Carnival Nationz, and finally caught up with Revellers who were finishing going before the judges at @3:00, later than we would have liked. We asked about lunch, found the lunch truck, but it was closed, so we got distracted by the drinks truck. Eventually, we got a ¼ chicken. We heard different stories about what happened to the rice. Hmmmm...? It was awkward trying to eat a greasy piece of chicken with no fork or napkin.

Anyway, talking about drinks, I must say while having bar service is a nice unexpected surprise, what was really essential was WATER! Why was there none?

FYI band leaders: There is a lot of different information available about how much water you should drink while being active outside in the heat. An average is to drink 2 - 4 glasses (16-32 ounces) of water each hour. If you exercise you should drink another 8 ounce glass of water for every 20 minutes you are active. If you drink alcohol, you should drink at least an equal amount of water! And when you sweat a lot, you especially need to replace fluids. I saw several masqueraders being carted away on the medical carts (incl. someone pictured in this post). Now I don’t know what the causes were, but I can’t help but wonder if they were drinking enough/any water? This lack of water was a serious complaint from many masqueraders from several bands.
Band vibes were nice while they lasted, which felt like ½ hr. I was most surprised by the amount of stormers in a “secure” band. At first there were a few, and security was putting them out. When we’d leave for the drinks truck, there were too many, so we’d try & make our way back into the security of the orange fencing. Hah! I kept hearing “are we in the band?” I’d look around, and yup, we were inside the fencing – along with stormers. Steups. After awhile, we stopped trying to figure it out since there were stormers inside and outside, basically, everywhere. I noticed that eventually the fence holders were just holding up the fence, not really securing us, throwing non masqueraders out. And really, watching it, I can’t blame them, there were just too many to contend with! And I observed they really could do just one thing, either throw people out, or hold the fence. Which would you chose if it were you? Now I don’t know if the hour was to blame, or that CNz was behind us - but for all intents and purposes, the stormers won, they infiltrated the band. It felt like there was an equal number of stormers to masqueraders. I did my part by telling them to leave, and by not allowing non costumed guys to wine on me. Oh, but to the guy who did, & when I looked back & asked if he was in costume, & he said yes, but I didn’t see one, so I told him no! & pushed him off, but turns out he was in Tin Man, I apologize!

So I must answer if this was in fact Carib2KHeaven? Well, I seriously worked my butt off in Survivor Bootcamp, (THANKS Rick!) and sweat up a storm at Curves. (Big hey to Galactic Tango Tanya!) I felt Wicked & no, not purple, but I'm quite happy with my costume choice. Mas certainly wasn’t stormer free, even with a fence, but I have experience now of what it’s like playing past #3, even with security. Heavenly band treatment? Communication started off great, had one screw up. For 1st time section leaders, I felt they still did a good job, I know there will always be mistakes, no one is perfect, & I’m sure the having costumes done on time lesson is learned. The band was lacking in food & water on the road. The music, ahhhhh, I couldn’t tell you, I didn’t really notice it! I mean, I saw Machel for a bit, but after that, ???

So overall, it appears from my previous list, that what I got, what I’m most pleased with was
my costume!

Alright, right about now I should be excited about Hamilton Mardi Gras, because even when something puts a damper on Caribana, there's always Hamilton and then Barrie... but Revellers is saying they are not going. I seriously hope this is just the same unfortunate thing they (bands) put us through last year, where at the 11th hour, the bands announced they are going after all. We'll have to wait & see...

So back to the parade, how was it for you??


Anonymous said...

Carnival Nationz had plenty plenty water.

Anonymous said...

and plenty stormers, shitty Fri. costume pickup, and costumes falling apart.

Partyanimal said...

I had a BLAST (as usual) with Carnival nationz. cannot wait until next year. Carnival Nationz going to Hamilton btw.

Lisa said...

I played w/ Nationz and while it started as a headache it ended great!! And not only b/c we won band of the year :)
Registration was a mad house. We were loyal masqueraders so we tried the early registration b/c we absolutely loved specific costumes and cnz has the reputation to sell out quickly. I think they opened at 5 pm on the first day of early registration and we left work at 5. Well let me tell you by the time we got to Scarborough (from Brampton), there was a crowd of people going nowhere quick. Long story short, we didn't get in until after 9 pm and didn't leave until close to 11. We didn't get our first costume of choice, but we got our second. Then the waiting game started. We heard nothing about costumes until the week of Caribana then only telling us about distribution dates.
Pickup was a great mess. We had pick up with 7 other sections and out of towners all the day before Caribana! My sister was there from 10:30 am and there was already a line up. She didn't get home until after 7pm!!!! If Saldenah wasn't sold out I was ready to sell my Cnz costume right then and there! My sister said that outside was a mess but once you got inside, everything moved smoothly and the leaders were helpful and informative.
Thank goodness I didn't end up selling my costume, my on the road experience this year was my best yet!! Cnz was crossing 7th so even though they told us to be there by 10, we knew better. We arrived at around 1. Just in time to hear them call up all the Marshall's to start organizing. We managed to get our food and eat while they were setting up and as soon as we were done, we started moving. It was a longer wait to cross the stage and at times, the band just stood no where for what felt like hours on end. But the music was great! We had a potty truck!! I'm still in awe at that. That was a great addition this year. And they were constantly handing out beverages. Maybe b/c we were at the back of the band, the water truck was always close by. But we were well hydrated.
Stormers were an issue before we even crossed the stage, but security was there trying to pluck them out. Once we crossed the stage it was like a swift navy operation; security showed up with nets and zoned in around us. There were other security in the circle with us carefully plucking out every non-masquerader! Even the girls who stormed were shown out. It was great! The music was great, everyone was friendly.
Definitely a vast improvement from the previous years. I am glad Cnz listened to the issues the masqueraders had and dealt with them. I am definitely doing Cnz again next year!
Just a side note, when we were leaving, we actually walked past Revellers and noted that there was a fence up but non masqueraders were on the inside of the fence. I actually told my friend that I felt sorry for that band b/c obviously security is not doing their job.

Anonymous said...

LMAO.... The Tinman was my brother-in-law... I laughed so hard when you rejected him... I thought it was because he was one of the good guys... good times!

Karabana said...

Oh no, pls tell him I didn't see a costume on him!
(seems I was being too careful telling guys no!)

Anonymous said...

I will never play in a band that picks past no. 4 in Caribana. I am a loyal Saldenah masquerader - we were no. 2 this year and there were still some stormers! That will never change. Saldenah played no. 6 one year and we left soon after getting onto the Lakeshore. Apparently they are not going Hamilton either but definitely Barrie - hope to see you there!

Anonymous said...

It's understandable. The mens costumes were pure garbage. They didn't even hold up until we crossed the stage.... My husband had a huge rip at his crotch, sides, etc... He lost he pants after we crossed as well.
It seems like whatever camp you go to, it's always the same. I can't win and pick up a costume when they said to pick up. I've had to make a second trip for the last three years.
I'm probably going back to Saldenah next year. At least, people know me there... but I did appreciate the peepee truck.

Trini-in-Toronto said...

Annon 2:13, how are you going to enforce that rule with bandleaders only announcing the order of the bands two weeks before the parade. I had that rule too, but the ladies find it hard to sit back and watch costumes sell out. I guess we blinked first.

Anonymous said...

Like I said - I am a loyal Saldenah masquerader - if they pick no. 6 I will sell my costume and either not play in Caribana or take what I can get with another band at the front of the parade - to me it is all about the people and experience anyway. Love your blog - keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

This year i played with Saldenah, and I had a horrible experience with my section leader Anton Saldenah. Communication sucked with Anton at least when I played with tribal knights my section leader was great with communication. Pick up day I didn't get a food ticket, and my belt was big to the point where it was falling off which is ridiculous considering we the masqueraders are spending a lot of money..I at least expect it to be good. Carnival day i was looking to get my food stub where was Anton no where to be found on top of that it took me an hour to get food because they were only concerned with people who had stubs. By the time i got the food i was so pissed off that i had 3 bits and left it. It seems like every other section was organized but mine. Louis and Ronny are great on communication.I don't care how lovely Anton's costumes look I'll never play with him again especially seeing how a lot of money is involved.

Lisa said...

After reading the comments above I have to say that while masqueraders do deserve to get their money's worth, you have to realize that section leaders are human beings and are not perfect. Anonymous above you would not play with a section leader again because he forgot your food ticket or your belt did not fit....absolutely ridiculous!!! If the belt did not fit why not simply ask the section leader to adjust it? I am sure Anton would have been happy to do so...but no instead you would come on this blog to air your grievance instead of addressing it with the person in question??

Secondly if he forgot your ticket, I can tell you there are many sections leaders who also may have forgotten to include in pick up bags. This again is a silly reason to not play again with a section leaders....

Seasoned masqueraders know and leave room for mistakes because they realize we are all human and prone to mistakes...

Anonymous said...

This yr I had a great time playing Mas. I played with Tribal Knights One Love section. The section leader was really nice and looked like she enjoyed building mas! My friends and I did have a few issues with our costumes (belt falling apart) but the section leader was ready with safety pins and a staple gun to fix the problem. I would play with this band again next yr and with this section leader! but please Tribal Knights' have some water for the people!

Karabana said...

I agree with Lisa's comments that you should always go to your section leader 1st, they should give you what you need. (BTW, when you couldn't find Anton, it's bc he was playing King.)
I always played with the same section leaders (in Saldenah) - did they make no mistakes, were they perfect? No, of course not, there were headpiece issues, no lunches... but when they acknowledge their mistakes, and improve, that counts. I suppose I'm forgiving, but I'm also realistic: I know there's no such thing as perfection. I also have an understanding of how mas works after all these years.

Anonymous said...

I played with Anton as well! My belt was big I just brought it to the camp, and they were more than happy to fix it. I'm sorry to hear about your stuff, but I'm sure if you had expressed your problem to Anton he would have fixed it, and accommodated to your needs. 2012 Saldenah here I come!

Karabana i love your blog!

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