Welcome to the Vaval! – 1st time in St Lucia

Posted on October 23, 2018

My first time in St Lucia, I came with an open mind and camera in tow. The people and culture of St Lucia stood out to me immediately, as my hosts and the people I met made me feel at home. I completed my assignment for Tribe Carnival on Carnival Friday and took to the streets on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. This is what I saw:

The Structure of St Lucia Carnival.
Carnival Monday is the main day, when ladies come out fully costumed.

This was a welcome switch as in Trinidad, the main day is Tuesday creating a unique “Monday Wear” industry. Together with my friend and artiste, Sekon Sta we took to the streets meeting Just 4 Fun Carnival Band.

Just 4 Fun

Earlier in my trip, Kenwyn, one of the managers at Just 4 Fun did a great job in making us feel welcomed and showed us around Gros Islet. He was very humble and hospitable. I appreciated seeing him in full ‘event mode’ directing his team on the road and crossing the stage.
Just 4 Fun was a remarkable display of organisation and unity. It was quite enjoyable hearing their presentation as Barrie Hype did a great job of educating the public (including me) – his words making it to the top of my St Lucia Carnival video. Just 4 Fun left such an indelible impression on me, I decided to let their band pass me and stay on the stage to see if any other band could match this vibe. I saw Lucian traditional mas and masqueraders of different demographics cross the stage one after the next.

Fuzion Mas

The second big band was Fuzion Mas and to my surprise they had musicians – a full live band on their music truck! This was very heartening to see as I believe it is the job of us, event planners to preserve, propagate and modernize our culture. It was clear that keeping the live music as part of their music truck was not only innovative, but made the vibe of their truck very unique. No wristband on my hand, both Just 4 Fun and Fuzion let me on their trucks and gave me the opportunity to really capture their masqueraders’ experiences. I especially enjoyed the dancers’ presentation at the start of Fuzion Mas’ parade. It felt full of culture and substance with the right mix of waistline. Fuzion Mas had the most familiar faces, Aswaad, Shomari Smith, Dj Lava and Julius Siobhan all chipping along side or playing music from inside the truck. The vibe was familiar and felt like I could chip and jump with them for the rest of the day.

Legends Mas

Later on, I was introduced to the Legends Mas Band. This was the band that featured the young lady who bathed in Champagne for her snapchat.
This was the band, whose band leader offered me champagne on at least three separate occasions without even knowing my name. I like champagne. So I followed them for the rest of the day; content with the most beautiful ladies from Krave all chipping side by side. Legends Carnival is touted as St Lucia’s Ultra Premium Carnival Band. Rightly so, the numbers were smaller and the vibe was quite premium. I chipped with my one St Lucian Friend; Roxanne Didier Nicholas, Ms St Lucia Universe 2014. She and her friends never hesitant to dance for my camera & then share these dances with me. Three time Soca Monarch Champion Voice was also chipping with us, so I heard a good deal of familiar soca tunes all day long and watched as Champagne popped from start to finish. The friendly band leader who was seen distributing fireball shots as a promo girl would evoked a warm feeling of comfort. Something I intend to emulate for my own events. I want to connect with my patrons in that way.

Carnival Tuesday was the same as Carnival Monday with slightly less adorned costumes and way more waistline. To cross the stage Lucian’s used bend over and wine music instead of the jump and wave soca we are accustomed to in Trinidad. The Dennery segment ruled the road as I fell in love with the sharp drum beats of every riddim. Kisha, the woman who has pioneered The TPM (The People Man) Movement was visible performing, chipping and dancing throughout the road journey. I even glimpsed Krome Nassis who was had everyone bending for the hmmm, hmmm!

In St Lucia I faced major set backs as I was missing two of my favorite cinematography tools, my hand held gimbal and drone. Undeterred, I returned to my roots. I operated on the premise with which I started my first ever Carnival video in 2014; simply Ken with a camera capturing whatever he sees.
My video presents the RAW masquerader experience, unadulterated, untainted by preference or prejudice or rushing to get what the client wants. For the first time, I present the St Lucia Carnival experience for everyone to see in all its glory with a mixture of Teddyson John and Mad Cow Riddim! Enjoy!

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