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Nottinghill Carnival Monday 28th August 2017

Morris Roots is a man with connections isn’t he? I mean from him hosting BussHead with Machel Montana and Bunji Garlin in London just shows the strength of his connections. I had heard about Tears Mas band over the years, as one of the few South London mas bands and for the first time I attended his launch last year.  Whilst, the costumes then were beautiful, they were basically just the same costume in 4 or 5 different colours, so declined and went with a beautiful design by Melissa Simon-Hartman (as you will see from the below image).

Undoubtedly, this year their launch was entirely different, a new designer had been commissioned (so I am told). Witnessing Mr Morris Roots himself, who looks after all attendees on his launch nights with the  DJ’s, food and drinks that are made available.  As per my blog post  Tears 2017 Mas Band Launch, the launch did not fail to exceed expectations, it was spectacular and as soon as I saw my costume Centaurus sashaying down the catwalk, I knew it was Tears I was going to play mas with.  My friend is actually the face of Tears and I had friends who wanted to play with me also, so job really done and as soon as bookings opened a few days later, deposits were paid. The deal was sealed, my friends and I were more than excited.

Everything was smooth and professional in the lead up to carnival. A Whatsapp forum was set up, so that the  masqueraders could ask any questions and also a chance to talk to others in the band. Whatsapp and the forums you can set up, I feel are the next best social phenomena after Facebook. Those forums were so useful, as I made some really good connections and had the best jokes throughout the time. One of the great debates was regarding the fact that we had to pay extra for the use of the toilet truck.  This was a cause of great contention as other bands had actually included it in the price, and the fact that Tears were charging extra – upset a few people is all I can say. I had paid it as wanted the privilege of not fussing around a nasty toilet on route. As it stood, I only used the toilet facilities twice, so it essence it cost me £5 a time!

Costume pick up was faultless also and I was especially pleased about the fact that pick up was in my home town in South London, UK.  It was the first year ever, I have not had to trek across to West London to pick up a costume.  However, if you did not know South Norwood you might not have found the mas camp. Keen to abstract from the prying eye, no clear directional notices were provided once you were there, hopefully you had the contact number, found by asking or just by sheer chance!  I was actually in the hairdressers down the road on one of the pick up days and I can you how people I had to give directions to.  My lovely friend picked mine up and delivered it to me and wow I was blown away.  The costume was a delivered in box, with all items sealed in protective bags. I was really pleased with my costume this year, as after my costume last year from Melissa Simon-Hartman, I really thought I would struggle to find another perfect outfit. To me the Tears costume was fabulous, it fit so well and I was going to rock it regardless.

Last year’s and this year’s costumes

The only downside was the headwear.  It was huge, very heavy but impressive.  I am not the biggest fan of headwear and when they are as big, I knew I would not wear it all day. I am still pleading for designers to think about the weight and the arduous mission of wearing it all day. I still loved it though, it was a grandiose, fabulous, eye-catching design and I wore it proudly on the road. The general public even pleaded to try it on or wear it and I obliged, they loved it!

On de road

So everything was perfect, I was ready for the road. My only fear was the music quality, one of my friends who had previously danced with Tears spoke of the fact that the music is always a source of dissatisfaction and that the DJ’s on the truck last year were not great. There were rumblings of assurances that this had changed, so armed with that information I was sure this was going to be my great carnival experience.

Despite the notifications of changes to carnival this year,  that required all bands to set off early or on time; I merely chortled at the 10.30am suggested set off time as, as all seasoned carnivalists know that no band ever takes off on time. My friend and I actually got to West London around 11.30am parked, changed in to our costume, sparkled up and off we set into the carnival. To find the band, we had to traipse up Ladbroke Grove, no bad experience as we wined up to bands passing. Such an amazing experience for my friend who had not played in costume for carnival in London before and not used to the cameras. We eventually met the band at the top of Ladbroke Grove at around 1pm but we did not actually take off until  2pm. Note: No discredit to Tears, the changes this year affected many bands experience on the road and the lateness of the band moving off is not attributed to Tears.

Nevertheless, I am trying to figure out how I can explain my experience on the road. When deliberating the facts and expressing these to a friend,  I was told, ‘everyone will have different experiences and you cannot expect yours to be the same as someone’s else’s’. This of course, is very true, however, I was there, I spoke to a number of persons on the road to get a varied perspective and there were a few who were not happy. Not that I sought them out but I heard the comments and took note. Unfortunately, my individual on the road experience was that it was OK. I mean seriously, it was just OK with Tears. Please do not get me wrong, Tears is a  great mas band with beautiful costumes and organisation, but the music? the DJ’s? That aspect was a massive let down as when “Footsteps” dropped, I thew my hands up in air and chipped on dismayed, by time they threw on “Palance”, I started to walk up to investigate other bands. Why are DJ’s still killing those tracks? I could not understand as this was a young band and there is an abundance of soca music, but this really was as good as it got. There were also several moments whereby we walked silently en route and other times subjected to long commentary from the mic man (he loved his voice).  Eventually, I got bored of the music and the mic man so wandered off ahead of the band to see what was going on.  I found UCOM, whose costumes were amazing (this band always sells out its carnival costumes early), but I experienced my own euphoria when I happened to find Arawaks again, I poised forward strutting my stuff, happy I found them again.  I stayed awhile with Arawaks and believe me I did not want to leave, but decided to go and find our band to wuk up with for the last few remaining hours.  As I glanced up, situated on top on the truck, resembled a VIP arena, DJ’s and the chosen few, enjoying themselves but failing to understand the crowd dynamics.

Suffice to say, my experience was not all bad, the costumes were perfect and were of an excellent quality, real value for money.  The organisation of it all was a smooth process and really felt looked after. My comments as such expressed were about the music.  I had high expectations and I suppose I became very frustrated with choices after having jumped in the Caribbean, hearing all the latest tunes so I guess that is my issue to contend with.

None of us want to say we had a bad time, but truth be known some of us did and it’s not out there.   Not just for experiences with Tears, but with regards to other bands also, as there are not that many negative comments on social media platforms and I find that hard to believe. So just where are these comments? Are they hidden beneath the mounds of thank you’s and costume pics?

Nevertheless, I enjoyed my Nottinghill carnival experience. The sun shone, I played with Tears and had friends with me. Donned with a beautiful costume, I felt fabulous. Thank you Tears Mas Band.

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