It was just about a week ago that revelers came out in their numbers and filled the streets of Kingston with beautifully adorned costumes and music trucks lined off blasting the sweet sounds of Soca music from sun up till sun down. Jamaica Carnival road march that took place on Sunday April 8, 2018 was definitely a MOVIE! It had to be one of the largest road parades for Jamaica Carnival to date and it continues to grow each year. This was the second year that Jamaica Carnival had the inclusion of new Carnival bands; Xaymaca International and Xodus on the road alongside the veterans Bacchanal Jamaica. All three bands had separate routes on the road but they were never short on vibes.
Before we talk about the “wotlessness “that took place on Carnival Sunday, let’s backtrack a bit and take a look at some of my highlights from the entire Carnival week which started the pumping officially on Easter Weekend Saturday March 31st straight to the climax on Sunday April 8th. The surplus of fetes this year made it extremely hard for persons to choose which ones to go to. Fetes ranging from all-inclusive pumps to cooler fetes to boat rides; there was something for everyone. I decided to start the bacchanal early by attending fetes from Carnival Tuesday at Sunnation Jamaica’s event Tabanca Tuesdays Pan vs DJ straight through to Xaymaca International’s PM Fete held on Carnival Saturday night. My top three fetes this year would have to be TRIBE Ignite that had me wukkin up all night with performances by Allison Hinds, Skinny Fabulous, Kerwin DuBois and Kes the Band, not to mention it was a drinks inclusive fete which did not break the bank.
My second choice would be Sunnation Sunrise Breakfast Party which was an all-inclusive fete that made you feel like you stepped into a scene from a movie. The setup had me awestruck, the food choices were endless and drinks running all day. The sun was out since it was an early morning breakfast party but once it cooled down then it was nonstop pump. Guests were also treated to energy packed performances by the one and only Machel Montano, the reigning Soca Monarch Voice and to add some dancehall flavor to the mix was the General himself Aidonia.
Last but certainly not least another favorite event of mine was a new fete on my list that had me pleasantly surprised and left me wanting more; Frenchmen Bazodee. It had a chiller vibe being held in a residential area with not as many persons bundled up in one space, there was a slightly older crowd but the music was on point and the food selection got me hooked. It was an all-inclusive event that had more of a “lime in your friend’s backyard” type of vibe with the addition of epic performances from Allison Hinds and Kes the band which ended in a gorgeous fireworks display.
Honorable mention goes out to Caesar’s Army BR which was a newcomer to Jamaica Carnival week that brought the crazy pump that Caesar’s Army is known for straight from Trinidad to Jamrock and the Xaymaca Beach Lime that took place the Monday after Carnival at Fort Clarence Beach. Persons were able to carry coolers and buy food right on the beach. The vibes were at an extra high as everyone was getting in one last pump before saying farewell to Jamaica Carnival till next year. It was the icing on the cake that topped off the sweet Carnival celebrations so perfectly.
Now that we’ve covered the fetes, let’s move on to the actual Carnival day on the road. I had the opportunity to play mass with Xaymaca International for the second year in a row so I can only speak on my experience with this particular band. From the very beginning at costume collection it was an easy breezy process. The mass camp was so well organized with designated areas for each stage of costume collection. There was even a section that fitted the wire bras for you and showed you step by step how to put on each piece; along with booths set up that provided essential road accessories such as stockings, pouches, gems, waterproof phone cases all available for purchase. I was extremely impressed with the level of professionalism and good customer service that they displayed, it was as if they thought of everything and wrapped it all up in a cute package with a big red bow ready and waiting for you. Hats off to Xaymaca International for exceptional service leading up to Carnival day!
So once the costume was in hand and it was finally time to get on the road Sunday morning with Xaymaca I was prepared for the ultimate pump! I got there in time to jump in at the lunch spot. This had to be my only setback that day. It might have been because I was late but when I got there most of the food was finished and they were only offering patties and sandwiches. Now this was not what I was used to last year, there were much more food options available at the lunch stop. I was also unimpressed with the lack of seating available for the amount of masqueraders that were there. I was slightly disappointed with the lunch and dinner stops as it was not up to the high standard that they set last year. However, once I got some food in my system and went back on the road nothing else mattered it was just a full on good time straight through the rest of the parade.
The one thing that stood out to me the most this year had to be just how beautifully the mix of dancehall culture and Soca was showcased. It was more prevalent than ever with people from all walks of life, all over the world who came together just to celebrate life whether it was by doing the popular dancehall dances such as Fling and Genna Bounce or by jumping up to Soca hits like Hulk and Top Striker. There was no bias, no judgement just integration and the embracing of all cultures as one and if that doesn’t scream CARNIVAL then I must be missing something.
No matter which band you decided to play mass with this year for Jamaica Carnival there’s one thing that was always present from beginning to end and that is GOOD VIBES. That’s what makes Jamaica Carnival stand out from all the rest. There is no room for hate and negativity here. This year would make it my sixth year playing mass in Jamaica and I have to say that this was one of, if not my favourite year. I really believe that the Jamaican culture seeped out more than ever for this Carnival and it made my heart so full to see. If you have never played mass for Jamaica Carnival I strongly urge you try and do it at least once in your lifetime. You may arrive on the island as a foreigner but you will definitely leave as a full-fledged Yaaardie!