Yes. I really enjoyed South Connections Band Launch. For many reasons which I will tell you soon. But first, let me give you some background information about this band. Again, I was on unfamiliar territory as I did not know much about South Connections (I am beginning to sound like a broken record). One of the Committee members Roy Alexander Weise was very generous enough with his time to tell me more.
South Connections Mas Band have been on the Notting Hill Carnival route for over 30 years. They are based in South London. The founders of this band are of Trinidadian heritage. However, having their base in South London, masqueraders of this band are of various backgrounds. South Connections Mas Band is Arts Council Funded and gives opportunities to new designers to be creative. They are a family band which ensures children are included in participation of carnival. Kids are on Carnival Sunday, adults are on Carnival Monday. The maximum number of masqueraders have been 250. Music on the road will be 99.9% soca with a little of something else. Roy said ‘you never know. Rihanna’s work work might make it in the mix’. This band really likes to incorporate story into the costumes. So from the launch right up until the pick up of costume, masqueraders are made aware of the character that their costume is portraying.
And so here we are in the world famous Brixton; traditionally one of the strongest footholds of Caribbean culture in London (England) . The venue Brixton East 1871 is a venue I have been to before for art exhibitions. It is full of character as it was a 19th century furniture warehouse; original wooden flooring, whitewash walls and a vaulted roof. Mel and I go to the second floor and Shy and Jazzster meet us later. There was a wait for the costume showcase but let me tell you the DJs (DJ Scooby and DSI) were absolutely on point with the music when I was upstairs. The change over between them was seemless, so much so I didn’t even realised that DJs switched until Mel pointed it out. They played soca initally then bashment. But what impressed me and my friends was the range of tunes they played; soca and bashment tunes I hadn’t heard in a while. Jazzster wanted to go on record to state ‘I appreciate the DJs efforts in gaining some unexpected hits’. The launch had vibes. People were dancing and one or two broke a sweat. The music was sweet.
We head downstairs for the catwalk show. I was a bit worried about lighting to get some good pictures as the second floor was a bit dark. However, the first floor was totally fit for purpose. There was good lighting and a stage set up. The DJs had set up on the right hand side of the stage. There was a large crowd waiting for the costumes.
The theme for this year’s costumes is called ‘The Big Screen’ conceived by Vernon Francis (one of the committee members) but designed by Sam with a background in theatre. I wish I had caught his last name. The theme is a tribute to some of more awe inspiring costumes we see in some of the movies which have visual impact. Four sections were displayed; 300, Avatar, Predator and the VIP section ‘The Black Swan’. We were informed there is a fifth section ‘Frozen’.
With the introduction of each section, there was a distinctive musical piece from each movie before it went into soca. If you know the movies, you would know immediately what movie it was. I loved that. Attention to detail. I was really impressed with how this band stuck to theme.
The section ‘300’ had the gladiator look with leatheresque belts, gold studs and the earthy cream colour. The headpiece reflected that of a gladiator warrior.
The ‘avatar’ section in colours of dark brown and tourqouise, was light and included good beadwork. I liked the male neck piece in this section. I also liked the frontline top and the back pack.
I have to say my favourite section was the ‘Predator’. With those headpieces? There is no mistaking this for anything other than costumes inspired by the ‘Predator’ movies. The headpieces and the use of black and silver gave this costume the menancing edge and made them distinct.
My favourite costume was the VIP Black Swan. Loved the black with gold accents. The outspread angel wings, big headpiece, addition of lace gave impact. This costumes comes with your own personal helper.
Costumes range between £150 to £400.00
South Connections Band Launch was a launch I enjoyed considerably. The venue was different, the setting in the Caribbean Culture location of Brixton. The DJs and the music was fantastic. The crowd was ready to have fun. The music for the catwalk and the designer nailed the theme. There were some elements of the costumes distinctive to the movies of their sections. The models were all smiles and seemed happy to be in the costume. I see some of the She Soca team modelling the various sections. They were having a fantastic time and showcased the costumes well.
South Connections Mas Band, you are now on my radar. For a band who know how to tell a story with costumes and stay true to theme, for a family band and great music on the road, for a bit of the The Big Screen at Notting Hill Carnival, South Connections is your band.
For more information, please visit www.southconnections.net. For more pictures of the costumes, please visit trinisinLondon.com Brian Quaver and Worlmag. For video footage, please visit ilovecarnivall FB page or Worlmag.