Cropover has always been on my bucketlist. After all it’s the second best Carnival in the Caribbean next to Trinidad. So missing it this year was not an option. While I love BIM, I couldn’t stop comparing the fetes and vibes on the road to Trinidad Carnival. Everyone knows that I love my Bajan people therefore my expectations for this trip were quite high! Unfortunately some parts of this trip was devastatingly underwhelming. Before I get into the fuckery about the actual Carnival let’s get into the good stuff….the fetes! My fete list wasn’t too crazy because I wanted to do some touristy type activities (like visiting the Animal Flower Cave). Touring the island and taking some time to explore limited the amount of fetes that I attended but this was cool with me.Gotta have two ends of the spectrum.
Fetes and Foreday
For those who can’t keep up when fete tickets are released, I strongly urge you to invest in a concierge service that’ll take care of securing your tickets.Like Trinidad, some fetes require the ordeal of contacting a committee member, or reaching out to somebody who know somebody. A concierge service handles all the minor details so you don’t have to keep up. If there was a service that organized costume pick up- sign me up!
Unfortunately I did attend Am.Bush after being a patron of the fete for years. I’ll save that rant for another time (word of advice- sometimes you gotta be selfish and leave some ppl in your party behind lol). The one time that I did not attend, the ethereal Bajan goddess Robyn Fenty made an appearance. For my Foreday morning experience I jumped with Collision, which apparently is the largest j’ouvert band in BIM.
Two things I hate in any Carnival experience are shitty drinks and feeling claustrophobic. I don’t understand why security did not widen the mesh barriers. It was humid, sticky and just way too hot to be in such close proximity and rubbing up against all those people (I know I know it’s Carnival but STILL). I spent the majority of my time outside the security barricade waking on the pavement with spectators. The outside “non-band” crowd was ROUGH. The fuckery came when a group of teenage spectators stepped out their boundaries and was too aggressive. This instantly killed my vibe, listen don’t ever pull my clothes to get my attention unless I’m in danger. At some points throughout the parade route the band was filled with stormers.
Let’s get into the drinks situation – good lord I thought there would’ve been Johnnie or Patron on the road but the bar had neither. It was cool though, despite the non top-shelf presence the bartenders were serving some deadly and powerful drinks. I ordered a whiskey and ginger, it was like 98% whiskey 2% ginger ale. No complaints here! There was only one bartender holding down the drinks truck and serving at what seemed to be lightening speed. Shoutout to him! From costume pick up to the time on the road the staff was pleasent, ready to help and had a good vibe.
My team couldn’t swing staying until the end so we dipped around 4AM and hailed a taxi back to St. Lawrence Gap. For anyone looking for an authentic Foreday Morning experience definitely check this band out.
Beach House ???
Beachhouse, oh beachhouse! The premium all-inclusive turned into a dutty mud fete. The event was held at the Colleton House in St. Peter. The venue was awesome, food was great (shoutout to the chefs, not sure if it was because I was hungry but that was top 3 paella I had in my life), drinks were flowing in abundance! Vibes was there! Everything was going right and then mother nature interupted.
No more than 10 minutes after I arrived came the torrential downpour. Most of the patrons tried to find shelter under tents. After what seemed like forever the rain let up and everyone was back to feeling the vibes. By the second downpour, the vibe of the crowd (or at least me) was sort of like fuck it, might as well enjoy myself and fete in the rain.
We camped out at the bar and ordered shots for the remainder of the night. Triple shots of Johnnie Walker and Cafe Patron for everyone! Totally didn’t realize I was consuming triple shots until the bartender told me. I can’t hang like my College days because I really felt the aftermath the next morning.
The fete would’ve been a 10 if it wasn’t for the giant mud puddles. If I wasn’t careful where I stepped my foot would’ve been deep in mud. Overall the DJs were on point, the food was solid, and the crowd had a decent vibe. I arrived around 8:20 so I was definitely appreciative the promoters extended the fete to end at 10PM.
Candy Coated Beach ?????
This was the BFF (best fucking fete) of the week! I arrived at the Copacabana Beach around 4PM, about 2 hours before the event ended (I have a skill for pinpointing exactly when a fete is going reach maximum vibes).Let’s just say those two hours topped all the fetes I attended. One bar was serving watered down drinks so we posted up next to the bartender with heavy hands. Triple shots! Patron shots! All types of shots! The highlight of that fete (musically) was when the DJ switched up from the soca and threw in some hip-hop and dancehall. Don’t get me wrong I love soca dearly but sometimes you just wanna act an ass, whip, nae nae, and do the Rich Homie Quan dance after hearing soca for hours straight at Carnival. There was one DJ who KILLED it, straight shellingz (sorry I don’t remember who you were). When the fete came to an end we ran off to the beach for a late night swim. What made this fete the best ? Simply put the VIBES. Cover ups came off, flats came off, inhibitions gone! It’s a beautiful thing when everyone completely lets go and really enjoys themselves. No stush vibes atall!
Soca Brainwash ????
Soca Brainwash was surrounded by a lot of controversy. Videos were made, rumors were thrown around but in the the end it was a solid fete. Fantastic light show, food (lawdd that bake and shark w/ tamrind sauce was so clutch) was on point and the vibes was there for sure. Unfortunately I don’t really remember Private Ryan’s set but I’m sure it was fantastic.
Now let’s get into the real shit …MAS aka Kandoonment Day.
I opted to play with Krave The Band. From my understanding they started out as an exclusive section in Zulu International and then went on to form their own band. This would be their third year on the road so all the newbie kinks should have been worked out by now, right ? WRONG
COSTUME PICK UP
Let me preface this by saying collectively we played mas in Miami, Caribana, Notting Hill and Trinidad Carnival, so we’ve had our fair share of mas band f**ups. Bar none the experience with Krave was the most interesting to say the least.
Let’s get into the pure fuckery that was distribution. My pick up time was 5-11 on Friday. Needless to say I was hoping to be in and out because I wanted to get at least 4 hours of sleep before Foreday morning. There was absolutely no organization. Everyone was huddled on a porch waiting to get in. People who paid in full, and those who had an outstanding balance were all on the same line. I arrived around 5:15 and left around 8:45. Totally unacceptable that I waited nearly 3 hours for a costume that I paid for in advance! At one point the crowd became so unmanageable that people started pushing and shoving to get into the band house. The owner (guess he’s the owner?) came out and began yelling at people and threatened to shut down costume distribution. Needless to say this did not go over well and it was level cuss out from there. The people let him have it!
It was later explained to that they received the costumes the day of distribution because Barbados customs was on a “go slow.” If they communicated that costume pick would be delayed I’m sure people would be understanding. However this does not excuse the 3-5 hour wait though. It doesn’t excuse the fact that there was absolutely no organization which aided in the chaos. Many people (self included) had invoice receipt on their phones. The staff told us that not showing the paper receipt would delay costume pickup! Hello it’s 2015, who does paper receipts anymore?!?It was just madness. In any case, shoutout to the lovely lady Shirley (I think that’s her name) who was super respectful, customer service orientated and worked quickly (to the best of her ability) to get everything situated for me. This “experience” made me extremely nervous for the road. My main concern was whether they’ll have their ducks in a row by Monday.
Let’s just say that my concerns were absolutely valid.
CROPOVER…ON THE ROAD
I arrived at our stadium meeting point a little after 11AM and breakfast was finished. Nothing left but a few scraps of toast. After waiting for what seemed to be forever to cross the stage, the trucks pulled off and exited the stadium. We were finally on the road which meant gourmet snack and drinks, right? WRONG! Imagine the chaos that ensued when there was only ONE drinks truck.Everyone was clamoring for drinks.(Mind you their Road Package listed Two Premium and Platinum Drinks Truck). That one drink truck situation became pretty annoying, at one point one of the bartenders said they can’t serve drinks unless security was present. WTF
My biggest gripe about this band is the cost benefit factor. I totally understand that some of the costumes may not be in tact because they’re now manufactured in China. (So long to traditional mas making). I’m paying over 700 USD for my costume but most importantly I’m paying for the experience. The drinks situation on the road was ridiculous. Not to mention there was no rest stop. Again the Road Package included “Relaxing Beachside Lunch Venue/ Spot,” Speciality Desserts, Pastries and Snack on the Road” amongst other amenities that weren’t present. I guess plantain chips counts as a gourmet snack? The rest stop/ lunch stop became the FINAL dinner stop. At the end of the parade route we went to the beach and was served a buffet style dinner. I can’t forget to mention that they ran out of WATER, 2 hours after leaving the stadium!! I can forgive gems and beads falling of my costume but I can’t forget a shitty experience that marred by perception of Barbados’s Cropover festival.
Real talk, it pains me to write about this because the experience did not live up to the hype. Sheer disappointment. This was the sentiment for about 90% of the masqueraders that I spoke to. A lot of Krave veterans mentioned that this is the worst it has been and that they’re never like this. I guess a band is entitled to an “off” year? That’s cool, I’m not a fan when it’s at my expense. Hopefully next year they show their first time masqueraders a better time. Despite all the BS I had a TIMEEE on the road! There was absolutely nothing that would’ve killed my vibe (except for no bottle water situation).
So was it #worththetrip ? ABSOLUTELY! I’ll definitely do Cropover again but next time I’ll look into playing with another band.