If you are a veteran of the London soca scene, there are three fetes/venues you know all about; Cocoyea, Tudor Rose and Corks. Corks was the Thursday night soca fete and home of the soca cartel and Release D Riddim team (RDR). They are the team that brings you the popular Red Eye fete in London and ‘Responsibly drinking rum’ t-shirts. RDR have been doing their thing for nine years now and also play internationally to include Germany, Rotterdam, Grenada, Barbados and the US. Using the term ‘International’ is the most accurate description for Release D Riddim and they are making greater strides as we speak.
This band’s costumes have improved significantly over the years. However, for me and many others RDR is best known for having the best vibes on the road Carnival Monday at Notting Hill Carnival! With Credible, Hardwine and the rest of the team on decks, touching the music of most of the Caribbean islands? The music never fails. And there is no stooshiness at all, just fun filled masqueraders looking to have a great time come rain or shine. RDR always has vibes for days. And by extension, their band launches has that same feting fun vibe. You will attend that band launch knowing that once the costumes have been shown, you are feting and sweating.
RDR’s launch has been held on Easter Thursday for the past couple of years. As it is a bank holiday the following day, you can party the night away without feeling the urgency to leave to get up early for work. So with my last day of work for the Easter weekend behind me, off I go to this band launch with my friend Judith and will be meeting up with Mel there.
The launch was held at a club called Dingwalls in Camden. For my national and international audience, Camden is situated in a part of London which was used to be considered very alternative in terms of the fashion sense and music of its residents (I am talking punk rock). It attracts many tourists. From the venue for this launch you know there will be hard partying afterwards. Although there is a catwalk set up (I liked the way it was decorated), it is a club with a nice bar filled with all kinds of drinks. As we walk in, Hardwine is on the mic getting the crowd warmed up, Credible is dropping tune after tune from various decades and islands of the Caribbean. People are making their rounds saying hey to friends and people they haven’t seen in a while and getting in position to get a good vantage point of the costumes. The place is crowded! I think it is safe to say the crowd is dominated primarily of masqueraders of the smaller islands of the Caribbean such as Grenada, St. Lucia, Barbados, Dominica, St.Vincent and Monsterrat. However, other islands are represented. I’d also say that the crowd was not of the older generation or young kids. I think there was also a contingency from Manchester so yes, huge crowd.
I can make out masqueraders of other bands which I always like to see; supporting other bands in their endeavours. The models do not hit the stage until 1:00am but I’d say the RDR team had the crowd pretty entertained with the music and a raffle.
It’s time to start. The theme is entitled Utopia and I’ve been informed that the costumes were designed by Pfe, Pys and the fun mas section was by our very own model Andrea Wallace. I must say that I was really impressed with the costumes of RDR this year. The show begins with the t-shirt section in shirts of blue, orange and maroon. Oh gosh, the funniest part of the fashion show was when Hardwine was attempting to shoo shoo the t-shirt models off the stage by saying ‘thank you, thank you’ as cue to leave. But the model in the maroon t-shirt didn’t have a chance to walk down the catwalk. But did that stop him? Oh no! Mr Maroon did a complete turn around and made sure he had his time to shine strutting and wukking down the catwalk.
The fun mas followed and I really liked the green and yellow combo designed by Andrea. Hardwine called this the ‘bad man section’. With the posing of Shane, I almost believe it.
The pretty mas came up next. The first section was themed ‘Enchanted’ in fluorescent green and blue. I liked the easiness of it. This is a costume you can wuk up in without fuss and still get attention with the vibrant green. The models in this section Andrea and Delphie slayed showing the costumes to the best of their ability.
The second section Nirvana was up next. I liked the blue and pink combination and in this section there was a male option.
Third section was the premium section which had been released online earlier in the year. It was filled with large angel wings (closed and open) overhead back packs and caged bras for those of us who want a bit more pizzazz on the road. It looked pretty light and comfortable. This is the one designed to get the cameras snapping.
The last section was called freedom and I loved the combination of yellow, pinks and oranges in this section. This section had a bit more visible colourful bling than the other sections for me. One of the models was rocking some serious righteous blinged out boots that caught my eye.
And that was the catwalk done! Prices range between £450.00 for the premium Bliss to £40 for the t-shirt. My personal preference was the Enchanted section with the flourescent green. Loved the colour and seeming simplicity of it. Speaking to Judith, Shy and a couple of other friends, they also gravitated towards Enchanted. There is also a kiddies section. That was not shown on the catwalk last night, perhaps because of the late hour. However, there was a pic of this section at the registration point. It was so good to see the RDR team celebrate their ninth year bringing soca and carnival to the London public and beyond. With the models on stage showing all their costumes and cake to hand, this was their time and was well deserved.
Ok. costumes shown. Party start. Chairs were moved out of the way and things got serious. Credible played tune after tune from throughout the years, from the days of Corks and right up to the present. The crowd was jumping up and responding to Hardwine on the mic, singing loudly to various songs. ‘Cheers to Life’ had me raising my hands to the heavens like so many others. They were having fun. I was having fun. This felt like a warm up to Red Eye.
I had a fantastic time at this band launch. No lie. The RDR team put on a good show and the costumes are nice. However, it is the always the music that keeps me. I busted a sweat. If you want to have a feting vibe throughout Carnival Monday, no stoosh (that’s for the bush), just wuk up and have a time on the road with your friends, Release D Riddim is your band.
Please go to www.releasedriddim.com for more detailed information. Uksocascene.com and trinisinlondon.com have excellent professional photographs of the launch. Videos of the various sections of the launch can be found on my FBpage ilovecarnivall. Many thanks to Melissa Brown for capturing the video footage.