Carnival The Caribbean

6 Lessons we learned from starting a J’ouvert band

There’s no doubt that there’s a lot that goes into mas and creating a bessexperience for Carnival Monday & Tuesday in sweet Trinidad & Tobago. GD Entertainment, Ganesh Kalliecharan, Denesh Singh of Chaguanas and their friends from Ice Boyz and KL photography started their own J’ouvert band, Jouvert Junkiez this year. Though there were a lot of ups and downs overall it was a success and they learned a lot. Here’s five crucial tips you should know if you are interested in creating a J’ouvert band.

Please note that all tips were provided by Ganesh Kalliecharan of GD Entertainment/J’ouvert Junkiez

Trinidad & Tobago Tourism

6. You must have a passion for carnival, mas and events

I grew up in Woodbrook, Trinidad. During the Carnival season, I was right along the route of where the traditional mas & Jouvert bands passed. I would always get up very early just to peep through my window to view this spectacle. To me, as a child at the time, I was so attracted to the vibrant colours & the overall energy of the mas players.

My closest friend, Denesh & I have been friends for twenty years and we shared a mutual interest in Event Planning, Carnival & Carnival-related activities. We took that shared passion and approached our close friends from Ice Boyz and KL photography. From there, we combined our industry knowledge, experience & passion to form our jouvert band.

5. It takes a lot of planning

The planning stage takes about six months to ensure all bases are covered. In Chaguanas, the Borough Corporation is responsible for the registration of all Jouvert Bands.You must register your band with them to be eligible for any awards/prizes. Your next step is where you get creative & plan a portrayal for the band. This “story-telling” aspect is one of the highlights of Jouvert celebrations. Permits are required, in our case we had to secure our band ID from the Chaguanas Borough Corporation. From there you have to focus on the execution of the actual day.

The theme for Jouvert Junkiez 2018 was Saints & Sinnerz

4. You have to be unique and cater to the needs of the people

Its easy to gravitate towards the more popular bands that have a large following, or endorsements by entertainers or the dazzling costumes. What we believe sets us apart is that we do our best to ensure that the tradition of the true artform is not lost in the hype and revelry. I try to capture that same feeling of when I was a child living in Woodbrook and seeing the traditional mas, and being in such wonderment at the transformation of the surroundings from everyday life there.

I am also of the view that I can relate to the band patrons because I’ve been so hands-on with Jouvert for such a long time. I’ve done it all, from the planning & logistics to experiencing full merriment on the streets Carnival Monday morning. I understand what the masqueraders want to experience.

3. You must hold yourself accountable

Before someone even begins to entertain the thought of launching a Jouvert band, they must be prepared to accept that they are the ones responsible for the entire band & all decisions will affect the band as a whole. Therefore, such an individual must have an analytical mind to carefully weigh all pros & cons. There are lots of fine details that can be easily overlooked if you don’t pay sufficient attention. You must make sure that you allow ample time for preparations, planning and execution.

2. Be prepared to be denied by sponsors

A production on such a massive scale as Jouvert, requires a significant amount of funding. Most times, investors do their best to fund the band internally. However in most cases, sponsors have to be found to ensure that we don’t cut corners. You have to be prepared to be turned down by sponsors without getting discouraged. Not everyone you approach is willing since they probably have been approached by other persons several times before.

1. Security is vital

We absolutely do not cut corners when it comes to security. Almost every Carnival, you hear a news report about a masquerader who has been robbed or attacked by an unforgiving assailant.

If our patrons do not feel safe, they will not join our band. Our security force on the road consists of several different levels. We have the general security guards who are uniformed & visible to everyone in the band.

We also have plain-clothed guards keeping a watchful eye. A roaming
security vehicle is always nearby. Security Extractors also give us that added assurance to prevent unwanted breeches. If, in spite of these measures, the unthinkable occurs, we employ a mobile ambulance & trained paramedics to accompany the band.

And there you have it. Special thanks to Denesh Singh, Ice Boys: Kiran Singh & Rawle Ransundar and KL Photography: Kevin Lalla

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