West Indies needed 7 runs out of 4 balls to win when Nicole and I entered the venue for the Soca Massive Fancy Sailors Band Launch. The band leader Mr Michael gave us the warmest welcome ever. However to say that he was distracted by the cricket on the TV screen was an understatement. He was torn in two and in the end the cricket won (rightly so on this occasion). That’s how you know you are in a true West Indian space! Once West Indies won, Mr Micheal had done the dance, had a gulp of his drink, he was ours again. We had his undivided attention. We’re outside the launch venue, liming, drinking some rum and talking about carnival and mas. Michael tells us more about the Soca Massive Fancy Sailors Mas Band.
Soca Massive Fancy Sailors Mas Band has been participating in Notting Hill Carnival for approximately 30 years and originally started as a DJ sound. They have played with some of the other well known bands such as Cocoyea and Genesis. This is a generational band with several generations of the same family returning to play mas and learn about carnival. It is family oriented and at the launch there are many children and adolescents as well as the grown folk and older adults. The focus of this band is and has always been traditional mas under the concept of fancy sailors with costumes for adults. However, for the first time last year, there was a children’s section. And there are two new bands to play with them on the road this year; Dimensions Entertainment and Chantimelle Mas Band. They bring in the children’s section and modern mas. Fancy sailors has had over the years approximately 150-200 members and this band is all inclusive. Soca and Calypso music only are played on the carnival route.
My friend Shy joins us and we head in to listen to the music and get ready for the show. The venue is in a wine bar which is cosy. An older man has opened the dance floor and is doing some serious moves. Re-runs of the cricket is playing on the various TV screens. There is food on the far end of the bar and Trinis in London are having some pre ordered rotis. You know that feeling you get when you are home? Everything is so comfortable, familiar and easy? That’s how I felt at this band launch. Experience and confidence exuded from Michael and this band. He knows his thing, he doesn’t have to prove anything.
There was a bit of a wait before the showing of the costumes. But hey that’s keeping in with the West Indies way of doing things. In the mean time, Nicole and Shy tap their feet and sway to the music.
The show starts. Dimensions entertainment were up first led by Gemma Brown. They started in 2004, a youth led group which provides workshops for various councils and companies with regards to arts and design. In 2014, Dimensions Entertainment brought out costumes with Cocoyea. The youngest masquerader is 9 and the oldest is 40. Maximum number is 60. The theme was entitled ‘Dimensions of power’ which was broken down into two sections, military and royalty.
Military consisted of a young girl’s costume, a young boy’s costume and that of a teenager which has army wear fabrics as a reflection of power. However, there were still pinks in there to make it playful . The adult section had colours of deep maroon, purple, silver- colours traditionally associated with royalty.
Next came Chantimelle Mas band, a new band on the road. Their theme was that of Birds of Paradise. Sections were called Parott, Hummingbird and Vulture. Costumes were in shades of red, oranges, black.
Dimensions Entertainment and Chantimelle Mas bands catered to modern mas. However, I have to say, what blew me away was the traditional mas costumes. Who said traditional mas was dead and boring? The band’s presentation for this year will stand out on any road in any carnival. Within the fancy sailors concept, ‘Pirates’ was chosen this year as theme for costume. The designer Shaun Carrington did an amazing job and these costumes stuck to theme! The details in the costumes, the choice of colours and fabric makes Fancy sailors unmissable on the road. Gold round trimmings are used which look like doubloons, pirate hats with large coloured feathers. Every section has details distinctive to the concept.
The first section was that of looter pirate. This section has strings of pearls, jewels, gold strewed along the head, collar and body of the costume showing the treasure they have accumulated whilst looting.
The second section was what I thought to be a sexy boatswain or low level pirate. I loved the maroon, gold and black combination and the headscarf.
My personal favourite I have to say is the first mate’s costume. The lavish detailed bodypiece of blue and gold and the multi-coloured feathered winged back pack I loved. But it was the details of the feathered hat, the cane and the parrot perched on the cane which just made this costume SLAY. The model of this costume swaggered down with that cane and brought this costume to life. I wanted to be a pirate.
Then came the male captain’s costume, rich fabrics wide lace sleeves, full length open waist coat, the hat with the most extravagant plume of colours feathers and of course the parrot perched on his shoulder. I could have sworn there was an eye patch at some point as well.
You see what I mean? It’s all in the details. Prices range between £150-250.
I really enjoyed this band launch. Soca Massive Fancy Sailors Mas Band is established. They have a specific focus of retaining Trinidadian carnival roots and are excelling at what they do. For a taste of traditional mas re-energised, a family oriented band full of genuine warmth, familiarity of the Caribbean and to bring out your inner Pirate, Soca Massive fancy sailors is your band.
Please visit www.socamassive.co.uk for more information. Please visit TrinisinLondon.com for more photos of the launch.