Playing mas in Trinidad is a bucket list highlight for many people, especially those second and third generation Trinidadians who’ve only heard about how great Trinidad Carnival is while playing mas in New York, Toronto, Miami etc. As a veteran “fete sket“, I’ve crossed the stage multiple times with Poison and now Tribe and to be perfectly honest, I couldn’t give two shits about “crossing the stage” NOW … but I do remember my first time playing mas, and crossing the stage was the culmination of the carnival experience and the icing on the cake.
I remember the excitement I felt, while waiting to rush on the big stage to “gallery” myself and making sure to tell everyone at home when I was going to cross the stage. On Carnival Tuesday, Tribe administration made the decision not to cross the stage … hence denying their masqueraders (especially the first timers) the opportunity to cross the stage.
There were two trains of thought I had here
- Personally, I couldn’t care less that Tribe didn’t cross the stage. Here is why :
- Tribe is a fashion band, a “Be Seen” band, a packaged experience that has as much to do with Carnival as it has to do with Oktoberfest.
- Tribe has never won “Band of the Year” … and has never attempted to compete for it, since it was never their focus.According to National Carnival Bands Association (NCBA) president David Lopez; “Tribe registered to enter the competition, but you have to pass three out of the four judging points (to be eligible for placement). Since they started, the most Tribe has ever done is two. Tribe disqualified themselves”
He said the NCBA understood this was how Tribe usually operated, and as such, were in discussions, with the band and security forces to allow the band to cross the stage. He said the there was much discussion before Carnival to decide the route and nobody had any reason to assemble or go up Frederick Street, and when the band started to get too near the prison, security personnel had to intervene.
- Tribe is popular because it offers crappy bikini costumes with pretty foreign and local girls. It offers convenience and an all inclusive packaged experience.
- This being said … Tribe will never EVER be about the “Spirit of Carnival”.
- If I were a first timer and I didn’t understand the history and ethos of this band, I would be very, very upset. I would be even more upset that I had no recourse with the band. Tribe will launch next year, people will forget that Tribe denied their masqueraders the opportunity to cross the stage.
- The administration claims it was done for safety. I counter it was done so Tribe didn’t have to pay for 4 hours more of security, music and drinking.
- The beverage trucks had already started running out of liquor and we’re not being resupplied.
- Masqueraders have a choice in their Carnival Band and they will choose Tribe again and again … because Tribe understand that their core demographic has no concern about Carnival. They understand that their demographic just want to brag and boast that they played mas with Tribe. END OF STORY.
Tribe sent out the following “apology” letter on Ash Wednesday
The Tribal Spirit Will Not Be Broken!
TRIBE sincerely thanks you for your continued patronage of the band for Carnival 2012. Remember TRIBE is your band and every decision made is in the best interest of you – Our Masquerader!
The TRIBE team expresses its sincerest apologies to you, our masqueraders, who may have felt your Carnival experience was compromised with the band being prevented by the Officials from crossing the Savannah stage. The Savannah stage incident was unintentional and certainly regrettable. Rest assured TRIBE will be working with all the major stakeholders to ensure that this will never occur in the future.
Our masqueraders are our first and foremost important stakeholder and despite incomplete and inaccurate reports, we wish to advise you of the facts surrounding the band not crossing the Savannah stage before we respond to any other stakeholder.
On Carnival Tuesday morning the band left its start point en route to the official route when it encountered several other bands, which were now assembling on the official route (Abercrombie St.). Assembling on the Official Route is a violation of the rules outlined by the NCBA. Due to the fact that the official route was blocked by such bands that were not even moving but now assembling, the TRIBE Road Management team took a decision to make a detour (to Frederick St.) in order to keep the band flowing and to move the tail of the band out of the way of other bands. This action resulted in the officials choosing to penalise TRIBE for not sticking to the official route despite the fact that several other bands who also flouted the rules were allowed to access the Stage. However, TRIBE does acknowledge and take responsibility for deviating for the official route.
Later on in the day, the TRIBE team was informed of the reversal of the decision preventing the band from entering the Savannah, but the Road Management team could not at that point take the band back to the Savannah for what would have been a lengthy wait.
Please be assured that TRIBE made every effort to gain entry to the Savannah Stage for our masqueraders within a time frame that would have been safe and minimised the wait. Enduring a 4 hr wait with all the ‘unsafe’ incidents that usually take place during this period was not an option for our masqueraders.
RAT RACE & CARNIVAL BAND GRIDLOCK
This is a time for change, a time to improve and re-structure the management of our Trinidad Carnival. This incident highlights a major problem that Parade and Road Management teams struggle with every year – the fact that there is a “rat race” to the Savannah Stage every Carnival Tuesday morning, with several bands flouting the rules and assembling on the Official Parade Route creating a Carnival Band Gridlock! The problem is growing with the increased number of new bands, all trying to start as close to the Stage as possible. This massive convergence of bands in and around the Stage is a most serious concern for the Parade management and a huge disadvantage to those bands that start at their designated Start point (TRIBE Started on Stanmore Ave.).
TRIBE’s Management wishes to assure you that we will continue to work towards creating the Ultimate Carnival Experience for you – the Ultimate Masquerader. We also wish to thank you for rallying with us despite the disappointment of not crossing the stage and transforming it into one of the greatest street parties throughout the streets of Port-of-Spain!
The TRIBE team thanks our wonderful masqueraders and the many members of the media (foreign and local) who left the Savannah stage to come to capture the Spirit of TRIBE on the road, a Spirit that will never be broken!
Still…The Ultimate Carnival Experience!
This was an excellent PR adjusted response that hit all the right notes, except a major one. Unless you’re offering a significant discount or add on for other masqueraders next year, this was all crap. Tribe will not offer this because they don’t have to do it … the hordes will come again.
Dean Ackin and his team will continue to print money and the Tribe shitshow will continue to go on. They will continue to laugh at us.
I for one will not play with Tribe again. They won’t miss me and they won’t miss anyone else who doesn’t play with them next year, because Trinis are too fucking stupid to ever vote with their choice or their wallets. Tribe administration knows this … hopefully you know it also.