Saint Lucia Carnival 2019même bête...
St. Lucia Carnival 2019 has come to an end and as per usual it was a fun-filled, high energy and colourful experience. Carnival has always been one of my favourite times of year, not only for the fun and revelry, but also for the creativity and craftsmanship. My mother was the band leader for St. Lucian Spirit, arguably one of the biggest and most successful carnival bands ever, for almost 30 years. I have been making costumes in mas camps from as long as I can remember. I’ve also been playing adult mas way younger than I should have, but then again, it was a different time. It is therefore no surprise that I eventually embarked on designing costumes myself.
This year marks my third year as a costume designer and trying to carve out a space for my design aesthetic has been no easy feat. While I am a novice designer with a lot to learn, it is still difficult for me to buy into the preferred aesthetic of Brazilian style feathers and beads to portray any and every theme. As I struggle to bring my designs to life, admittedly still experiencing a disconnect between my vision and my execution as any novice would, I find myself becoming more and more jaded. The old fashioned mas in me, rooted in story telling needs to find some sort of connection between theme and portrayal. The prettiest of colours and beads and feathers tend to be lost on me, if I am unable to decipher the portrayal. However, with the growing popularity of carnivals the world over, the feathers and beads are exactly what the reveler wants. The rise of the party bands, and the growing trend of carnival being a business makes returning to our roots all the more difficult.
This year, I was inspired by the undersubscribed events of kiddies’ carnival and King and Queen of the Bands, that still allows an outlet for sheer masterpieces of craftsmanship to be displayed. I opted out of attending some major parties in favour of patronizing these pure mas events, in an effort to remind myself of the purpose of it all. Both events did not disappoint and instilled in me some hope that some sort of balance can be found between fun and creativity that can appeal to most.
St. Lucia Carnival 2019 boasted a record number of bands along a small and cramped route which for me creates a great opportunity to have a diverse carnival product for spectators to see. I was happy to see certain party bands have a good mix of fun and creativity and it is my hope that other bands follow suit. I am inspired by the recent launch of the Lost Tribe Carnival Band in Trinidad that has effectively managed to bring back a more creative side to design, nary a feather to be seen. In the meantime, I will continue to trudge along, improving my design skills and remaining true to what I believe carnival should be. I patiently await a revolution in St. Lucia carnival where we pave our own way, with a unique aesthetic much in the same vein as the Dennery Segment genre of music has stood out for us. As a small island it is important for us to remember that we cannot compete by emulating, rather we must utilize our unique cultural heritage to make us stand out in a sea of feathers.