I’m beginning to sound like a broken record but Chocolate Nation’s band launch? I enjoyed this band launch too!
I’ve played with Chocolate Nation Mas many times and for me, Chocolate Nation was not known for costumes. What this band IS known for is the hedonistic chocolate revelry of Carnival Sunday! This is the largest band on the road on Carnival Sunday (last year had over 1200 members) and is normally the last band of the route probably by design. The wildest antics, the most bacchanal, the most fun occurs in this band on the Sunday! Of recent years, Chocolate Nation has hosted various smaller bands on Carnival Monday and their band launch reminds me of the Poison Mas Band launches of years gone by. This band launch is normally well attended and in the past there have been international well known artists performing such as Destra Garcia. Chocolate Mas launch tends to be well attended. Some of the bands who will be launching with them, I have seen their designs either online or live at Carnival Expo. Others I haven’t seen at all and am eager to see.
Nicolene and I head to the launch. Mel will be meeting us there. The launch was held at a location called ‘The Venue’. It was fit for purpose with loads of space and a big stage. The very front of the stage was cornered off and the models came down from the stage onto the corned area so that the audience and media can get a closer look and take pictures. That was a nice touch. Mike Forbes (band leader of Chocolate Nation) hosted the launch. The crowd is warmed up and surprisingly for a band launch, the presentation starts more or less on time.
For this launch, costumes are presented by the following bands; Smokey Joe Roadshow, Infinite Mas, Caribbean Sessions, Trinity Design Collective, Mas with a Difference, and the host Chocolate Nation.
Smokey Joe Roadshow is owned by Onike Joseph. I know her from playing with Arawak Mas band years ago. However, she has had her own band for four years now named after her legendary father Smokey Joe who has been in the soca and carnival industry for well over 30 years. Onike is currently on the Carnival board of Trustees. This band’s philosophy is Mas Everyday, Mas Everybody. Onike explained this meant that everyone is an individual, so the band is limited to a single section with 10 or 12 design options and an international touring piece of frontline Mas. All costumes are designed and made bespoke in Trinidad by Big Mike of Legacy. The theme for the costumes is entitled ‘Freedom’.
I liked Smokey Joe Roadshow’s colour combination for costumes and the front line had a full layered feathered backpack which I also liked.
Infinite Mas is owned by no other than the UK Soca Artist Ms Desire. Last year was her first year on the road designing costumes and she was hosted by Chocolate Nation. Her aim is to create a fantastic experience for all her masqueraders. Ms Desire explains that she wishes to ensure that everything from the service onwards is nothing but short of great experience for masqueraders. Her goal is to produce costumes for approximately 30-50 people. Ms Desire’s theme for her costumes this year is ‘Eagles’. She explains this is dedicated to all those who continue to rise above and soar like an eagle despite what life throws at them. There are three sections for the females and one section for the male. Prices range between £150-290.
The colour choice of brown and cream/white were in keeping with the colours of Eagles. The design is simple and it is easy to wear mas for the Road.
Caribbean Sessions Mas Band I first encountered at Carnival Expo and CJay explained about his all inclusive band. Caribbean Sessions is a multi-branded company (radio, apparel, events) established in 2013, with an aim to promote caribbean culture globally. This is their first year producing costumes for Notting Hill Carnival. The ethos of this band is ‘Many islands one vision’ as it is said to represent all islands. The theme for Caribbean Sessions is entitles ‘Sunset’ based on the rarest of all sunsets (the green sunset) and the deep blue of the ocean. Prices range between £175 to £275.
I loved this colour combination the first time I saw it at Carnival Expo. It stands out and there is a level of detail given to all sections. The Frontline model Rianna was all smiles and the male costume for me was the best male of the night.
Trinity Design Collective brings the theme ‘Fetish’ to Notting Hill Carnival! This band did an amazing job launching online with brilliant pictures and cinematography and 100 costumes have already been sold! Trinity Design Collective consists of a quartet of friends (some based here in the UK, some based in the US). Barbie (well known in the London carnival community) describes the background of her friends as being in fashion design and carnival. It is their aim to create a collection which would be sexy, fashion forward and on trend. Generally, this band has between 130-140 masqueraders.
Trinity Design Collective was the band which brought the art of showmanship and theatre to the launch. With the pole dancer and the female t-shirt section stripping off the male t-shirt off, there was no denying, this was the band of sexuality. The frontline costumes were nice (especially the frontline) with the turquoise and orange stones helping the pastel coloured costumes to pop.
Mas With a Difference is owned by Flora Nabena. She began the art of designing inadvertently, by amending her costume bra which was not the correct fitting. Her design was noted by the Poison UK band leader and the rest as they say is history. Flora has had a section at Notting Hill Carnival for five years now. In addition to this, she has designed a section for Berlin carnival for the past four years and Miami carnival for the past three years. Her aim with her costumes has been to produce designs that one would be happy to wear at Trinidad carnival. The number of masqueraders varies but is usually upwards of 60 and the price ranges between £150 for the guys to £350 for the ladies. Mas with a Difference’s theme for this year is ‘Atlantis’.
I gasped ‘oh wow’ when Flora’s frontline costume came out. In a good way. This costume was the show stopper. There were enough elements which were done differently so you would want to take a second and third look. It’s safe to say that Flora is a master of the cage and wire bra. Her attention to detail is impressive. The mohawk headpiece and side leg trimmings was enough to make me want to take more pictures. For me this costume slayed!
And finally, the host, Chocolate Nation Mas Band. Chocolate Nation Mas first went on the Notting Hill Route in 2009, created by a group of close friends and family. It is described online as a fun and friendly mas band with great value for money. There is love for the west Indian culture and passion for the music which is hoped is replicated along the route of Notting Hill during carnival. The music on the road is soca, calypso and chutney. The number of masqueraders on the road on Carnival Sunday? Alot. We are talking hundreds. When trying to find my friends (perhaps I was too busy wining or something and have lost them), it can take a while to find them. This year, Chocolate Nation bring their own pretty mas to Carnival Monday. The theme for their costume is Aphrodite.
The colours for Chocolate Nation were very feminine and pretty. There was enough bling and variety of back packs (collars, butterfly and angel wings) and body pieces to give many options.
So there you have it. Five selections of costumes under the titan Chocolate Nation mas band for Carnival Monday. It was a good presentation of costumes! Host Mike Forbes brought all the designers on stage for applause and he thanked Eclipse Mas for their prior hosting. Afterwards, the crowd was more than happy to stay and dance away and be part of the chorus to songs such Rupee’s ‘lemmie see you wave your hands’.
For a band that is extremely popular for Carnival Sunday and will no doubt be as popular for Carnival Monday, for a band hosting four other bands who have produced a variety of different styles and themes of costume so you will be spoilt for choice, for a band who will always bring the chocolate, I give you Chocolate Nation Mas Band.
For more information on Chocolate Nation, please visit www.chocolatenationmas.com or Facebook Page Chocolate Nation Mas. For more information on Smokey Joe’s Roadshow, please visit Facebook page Smokey Joe Roadshow. For further information on Infinite Mas, please visit www.infintemas.com or facebook page Infinite mas. For further information on Caribbean Sessions, please visit www.caribbeansessions.co.uk. For further information on Trinity Design Collective, please visit, trinitydesigncollective.co.uk or Facebookpage Trinity design Collective. For further information on Mas with a Difference, please visit www.mwdcarnival.com or Mas with a difference on Facebook.
For more images, please visit UK Soca Scene and Trinis in London. For video footage, please visit Ilovecarnivall Fb page.