Masqueraders show love for Savannah stage

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Masquerader from Yuma’s Awakened Treasure enjoy themselves while crossing the stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Pageantry, colour, energy and love were on show as masqueraders embraced the opportunity to cross the Queen’s Park Savannah stage on Carnival Tuesday for the first time since 2020.

Some masqueraders were seen hugging and crying as they danced to the music chosen by or for their bands, which in many cases was Bunji Garlin’s Hard Fete. In other cases, masqueraders were seen thoroughly enjoying their experience dancing and jumping in front of the cameras, or expressing joy at being on the road again.

Designers went all out with colours, with bands showcasing suits in various shades and hues of green and blue, gold, white, red, teal, pink, purple, orange, and various animal prints.

Masqueraders from Lost Tribe’s 202WE, at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

Lost Tribe’s presentation was colourful and elegant. Masqueraders could be seen savouring the experience of wearing their costumes as well as dancing to Nailah Blackman and Gamal “Skinny Fabulous” Doyle’s song Come Home, with a live performance from Blackman, who was on one of the music trucks.

Yuma Vibes presentation of Awakened Treasures moved across the stage quickly, with the masqueraders being shepherded on and off the stage by security officers on the north and south sides of the band as well as a line behind each section which moved the masqueraders forward.

The judges were heard complaining that the security officers holding ropes on either side of the band were blocking their view of the masqueraders. The entire band took one hour and one minute to cross the stage, despite having 13 sections.

A masquerader from Yuma’s Awakened Treasure, Rozay, waits to cross the stage at the Queen’s Park Savannah, Port of Spain, on Tuesday. Photo by Ayanna Kinsale

The band employed a strategy for its music choices where masqueraders entered the stage to either Come Home or Machel Montano and Destra Garcia’s Shake D Place, danced to Ian “Bunji Garlin” Alvarez’s Hard Fete, and then left the stage to either Come Home or Shake D Place.

Mardi Gras TT’s presentation of Evolution did not cross by section but masqueraders mixed together in black, pink, silver, gold, blue, lime green, and black and gold costumes.

Next to enter the stage was medium band Legacy. Bandleader Mike “Big Mike” Antoine announced he would be leaving Port of Spain Carnival permanently after what he called disrespect on the part of National Carnival Commission officials, who said he could go ahead of a prestige band which had cut into the line in front of him.

He said rules had been set in place in prior meetings with the NCC before the 2023 Carnival presentation.

“I have had enough. A band came off the roadway, bust the line, come in front everybody, and they let them go after I met with Nestor Nancoo of NCC, who said, Mike I would let them go. I was behind Lost Tribe, which left the stage a long time ago, and I now reach the stage.

“Y’all wouldn’t miss me, and I don’t want you to miss me. I want to tell you all I have done enough for Carnival in TT, over 40 years, but this will be my last, because the NCC, the authorities, promised to pull aside the prestige band, allowed them to go across the stage. I may travel or I might go into the countryside, but I will not be in Port of Spain.”

Antoine said he believed his masqueraders would understand, having seen his suffering, and agree with his decision.

After his initial declaration and presentation of the band, instead of leaving the stage, Antoine got back on the mic and directed his masqueraders in a farewell dance. Between instructions, he continued his complaints, extending the band’s stay, asking if his masqueraders were ready to go but remaining on stage. He did this until the audience started shouting for him to “Go!” while applauding his protest.

According to the NCC rules, a medium band was supposed to remain on stage for about 20 minutes, and failure to comply would lead to a deduction of 15 per cent of the total score. Legacy was on stage for at least 35 minutes.

The audience had returned to pre-pandemic levels, with the Grand Stand being two-thirds full and the North Stand approximately one-third full.