Things have definitely changed since my early days of playing mas. Back then, a band launch before Boxing Day was blasphemous and the hottest section could be bought for $800 TTD. Although people may not have had as long to put aside for their costume at least they did not have to find some people’s whole month’s salary!
Well in this age of recession, the ever critical band registration period fast approaching and the fact that a series of unfortunate events have had money jumping out my hand, I have started to sweat a bit (for the first time in history) about where exactly this costume downpayment money coming from. I realize I have to get my hustle on !!! To be honest , I had actually considered giving it a rest next year because my dear band of Tribe just does not seem to have any intention of addressing what I believe to be their biggest issue…their excessive numbers. In all fairness, I had plenty of the jam session in Poison days and I don’t recall any serious issues with the numbers other than the torturous wait to cross the stage but that is arguably a road management issue and not a band size issue. I was still shocked to hear that Tribe’s customer polls resulted in a majority of people liking the jam session. When I really thought about it I realized it has a lot to do with your previous experiences and your financial status. When I was begging a costume or had it bought for me I would take whatever I got which usually meant whatever was left Carnival Sunday. On the road I wore just the basic bra and waistband and maybe the ‘one feather’ headpiece. As I got older and started pelting out my own money for a costume then the choices became wider, the costumes by this time were much more elaborate and I demanded value for my money. So whereas before the jam session was bearable with a barely there costume, the jam session does not work for any frontline costume! Furthermore, if ALL you know is a jam session how would you even be aware of the benefits of a band with controlled numbers like Tribe circa 2005. (That is directed at smallies who only know Tribe as a jam session). I think the majority of people in my age group would much prefer to go back to the breath of fresh air that was Tribe’s and Island People’s first two years in terms of numbers.
Nonetheless, I think the only acceptable excuse for not playing mas is being dead or knocked up (but hey, that’s just me) and I am neither just yet .With all the competition on the horizon now I can only hope that the numbers will be spread more evenly amongst different bands and we can all enjoy ourselves freely regardless of what costume we are wearing. More so… I also hope that the prices will be competitive!!! So with only one more payday or so inside before your band of choice opens registration I suggest you get yourself in order and get YOUR (legal) hustle on to ensure that you can pay that downpayment. So here are a few of my suggestions to come up with the money:
- Sell stuff. No time like the present to have a garage sale. I have tons of stuff I have only worn once and even more stuff that I have bought and never worn and then decide I don’t like it anymore. Even if its used, you would be surprised ! People will buy anything. I have had people try to buy a handbag off my shoulder already. Video games , dvds, figurines, dinner ware, bedding, books nothing is safe! But PLEASE don’t sell stuff that does not belong to you!!!
- Recycle! Yes you can literally collect some glass bottles and carry them in for refunds. I am sure quite a few of you have a case home from the world cup lime. However there are people who will also purchase your old costume (see above). Several Carnival or parade events happen all over the world throughout the summer and people are willing to pay. Gay parades rock! Some time ago I actually put my costume on ebay..ok so it didn’t sell but I have gotten an offer for this year’s costume that will cover my downpayment. But be fair people ,you will not get a 100% return on a USED costume.
- Cut back. When times got rough, I really surprised myself by how long I could make just $100 stretch. I thought to myself, why don’t I do this all the time? You don’t have to buy lunch everyday , go in the club every weekend, buy sushi every Friday or even use Oil of Olay deodorant. Avon works just as well for the fraction of the price. Every little counts….focus!!
- Offer your services. Although dancing on table tops and the like has become quite acceptable in the U.S and Europe I don’t recommend it. What you can do is offer some other talents. Maybe take orders to cook lunch for your coworkers for a small price. Teach (academic)lessons over the summer to a small group of children. Tis the season of summer camp. Please doh set up the youths if yuh dunce or give people bun bun rice to eat. Also, if you get involved with the band of your choice early on (volunteer or model) you usually get some sort of concession either in terms of payment to offset the cost of your costume. You also get first draft for more events later on in the season.
- Get a job at a sponsor. It is a fact that the band sponsors e.g Bmobile, Digicel get a quota of free costumes. The bigger the sponsor, the more costumes they get allotted. Some bands allow you to choose your section, others give you the dregs and some like Tribe offer a secret section for sponsors.(That’s the costume you never see till Carnival Monday on the road). If you just want in on the action , I would not be too picky. Free is free. Just make sure to hold your job till Ash Wednesday.
- Play ah mark. Ok this not guaranteed to win you anything but to win you have to have a chance lol!Whatever you do , don't play 4,8,15,16,23,42!!!
- Sell your soul. I don’t mean to the devil (although you might still need to chat to him if you want in for certain bands). But asking any friend or family member for money for your costume is tantamount to selling your soul. Cause as long as they have that on you , you are at their mercy to do their bidding. You become a chauffeur, a gopher and a baby sitter instantaneously. My advice ..don’t ‘borrow’ money get it ‘given’. I am fortunate that my birthday is always in the vicinity of Carnival. If by Christmas I think I may be a bit short to pay off my costume then I start campaigning for ‘costume contributions’ as birthday or Valentine’s day gift. You can’t be reproachful for a gift now can you ?:-\
Finally, to all of you who ‘trying to decide if to play’ …. BIG STEUPS. Stop being in denial and sign up because when you see everybody else getting their costumes in order you are going to be jealous .You will then proceed to call your friends and annoy the hell out of them by moaning and groaning how you want to play now and get a costume for you. Be warned…..doh call me!