For my fifth carnival band launch of this bank holiday I head to the Tabernacle for the Cocoyea Mas band launch. Cocoyea was one of my ‘had to go to’ soca fetes years ago. I would attend on the bank holiday Monday. It was enough to give you a burst of soca for the week ahead. It’s fallen off my radar somewhat but I am keen to see what the launch will be like. My sincerest apologies, I was not able to contact someone from the team prior to the launch. However, here is what I have found out from their website.
It is reported Cocoyea was formed 35 years ago with the aim of promoting the music of Trinidad and Tobago. This was done by hosting high profile and large scale events or fetes throughout the year. In the past, Cocoyea has presented major soca artists such as Machel Montano, David Rudder and Ronnie McIntosh. Cocoyea has been proactive in promoting, providing publicity and advertising work and projects. One such example is supporting the UK’s first soca publication Soca News. In addition, this band uses its prominent position to financially support schools and other worthy causes within the Caribbean diaspora.
I head to the Tabanacle and initially get something to eat downstairs. Digga and his fiance Chrystal are there and I share their table to eat whilst catching up on music and recent soca/carnival events. Other familiar faces and teams are there such as Petra, Melissa Hartman, UCOM and the media press. The Tabanacle is a great venue to showcase costumes; plenty of space and good choice of lighting to use. Upstairs, the music is playing on loop and we wait in choice seats for the presentation of costumes. The launch is hosted by Reuben P. Joseph.
Cocoyea Mas band’s presentation is themed as ‘Reflexions’ for Notting Hill Carnival 2016. As well as presenting their own collection, this band is hosting two other collections. The first collection is Airam Designs by Tiffanni Maria Thompson. She works for Pulse 88 Radio and has a breakfast show called ‘Breakfast at Tiffanni’s’. Tiffanni explained this will be her second year on the road as a designer. It is her aim to bring the carnival culture and designs to a larger market outside of the known UK soca community.
The inspiration for Airam’s red costumes was based on the Indian Goddess Sundara. It is a reflection of the Indian culture’s influence on the Caribbean culture.
The white costumes pay homage to Cocoyea’s 35 year on the road; a heaven homage, heaven on earth. Prices will be between £180 and 300.
The second band hosted by Cocoyea is Reef Mas Band. Reef Mas Band is under the IMG entertainment Company who power Summer Crew Mas band in Grenada. This band participated in Grenada Spice Mas carnival last year and decided to extend to attending Notting Hill carnival this year.
Reef Mas showcased three sections at Cocoyea under the theme ‘Jewels of the Caribbean. ‘Coral and Sand’ represent Barbados. ‘The Dance of Seduction’ represents Jamaica.
‘Bird Sanctuary’ represents Trinidad. The price ranges between £100-495 but that is dependant on additions. Reef Mas band will be catering for approximately 200 people.
And last but certainly by no means least the collection for the host Cocoyea Mas Band. The designer and producer of this collection Paul O’Donoghue of UCOM mas band really does not require any introduction in the UK Soca community. His style of designs, good work ethic and disciplined productivity is very well known. However, for my audience unfamiliar with the UK here is a bit about Paul O’Donoghue and UCOM Mas band.
Paul O’Donoghue is the artistic director of United Colours of Mas (UCOM). UCOM launched in 2011. However this was derived from the former Bachanal Mas which began in 2007. Presently, this band is the host band for the bands Karma Infinity Mas Band, Socoholic and Hype Masqueraders. This ultra inclusive mas band is stated to welcome people from all walks of life, matter what island, race or sexuality; a band that is constantly innovating, improving their product and service. Paul O’Donoghue has at least 17 years experience in costume design business. He has designed award winning presentations and costumes for various mas bands. To my knowledge, he has designed and produced costumes this year for amongst others Bajan Revellers, Burrokeets, Laignappe, Tears and now Cocoyea. He has also designed costumes for Trinidad and Berlin Carnival. UCOM hosts the very popular Summer Ting Friday fete in Leicester Square, London England.
I have a couple of favourite costumes for this launch. I liked Tiffanni’s white frontline costume and Reef Mas ‘Bird Sanctuary’. I especially liked Paul O’donoghue’s multi-coloured costume for Cocoyea modelled by Rayy.
After the pretty mas costume presentation, there was also a theatrical presentation by black young men to raise awareness of testicular cancer in the black community. Reuben asked the male audience very explicity to ‘check your balls!’ which did raise some laughter!
Cocoyea’s Masband launch was good. It was more of a relaxed affair than my recent previous launches so there was no wild out feting. However, it felt very appropriate for a bank holiday evening.
For a band that has a very long history in Notting Hill Carnival and cares about the community, for a band which is open to hosting new and international bands as well as using designs of season veterans, Cocoyea is your band!
For more information on Cocoyea Mas band, please visit www.cocoyea.com or Cocoyea London on Facebook. For Airam Designs please visit Airam Designs by Tiffanni Thompson on facebook. To learn more about Reef Mas Band please visit, www.reefmasband.com. For further information on UCOM, please visit www.unitedcoloursofmas.com or United Colours of Mas on Facebook. For more images of costumes, please visit TrinisinLondon, Raymond Lyttle, Brain Quaver and VKams photography.