I am a mas band player, which means I wear costume on Carnival Monday. I also teach dance for the Elimu kids for the judging point, and I am also on the Elimu Mas Band committee.
At the judging point on route we give the judges a performance in the form of a dance routine to best display the costumes of the kids and introduce the band for judging point itself.
The dance group consists of about 10 kids who perform at Judging Point, and the rest of the band will then display their costumes as they see fit.
Being on the committee involves sitting down and talking about Paddington Arts involvement within the Elimu Carnival, how we can best support Elimu, with recruitment, ideas for the costumes, carnival launch, etc; and also if there are any disagreements then we can try and resolve them.
On Carnival Sunday from the moment I wake up, already I can hear music in my ears. I get dressed, then I prepare a light refreshment for the road, that is to say an alcoholic beverage - usually rum & coke - in a medium size bottle to take on the road. I choose what to wear - usually shorts to go with the t-shirt.
I leave the house around 5am, drive to a prime location, because ‘jouvet’ starts at 6am. I have to make sure I have a change of clothes, because jouvet is a time where people are throwing paint, flour, eggs, ketchup, BBQ sauce, anything they can get their hands on, all over your body, and it gets very, very messy, so we have to take a change of clothes.
There is usually steel pan playing on the road while everyone is going around and throwing paint on everyone, while dancing and having a great time. What I like about it is the fact that anybody and everybody gets messy, there are no arguments, no complaints, no fights, everyone is there to have a good time, it’s like a big food fight amongst strangers, and it’s all for fun. That happens for about an hour and a half.
Then it’s a lovely long walk down the road, and if the sun is shining on the melted flour and eggs on yourself, you feel like you are a painted cake.
I get to Paddington Arts to get showered and cleaned up, get my shorts on, partake in a light liquid refreshment at that time, (which is usually rum and coke), I then get dressed, start welcoming people to the band, by that time hopefully there is a bit of music playing, as they start setting up the band. Next I help carry food and drinks to the food and drinks truck as we start to get ready.
Then we start organising the kids, trying to keep everything running nice and smooth. I start getting everybody in the spirit by dancing like a complete crazy man when the music starts playing. I don’t mind doing this every year, I love the music.
By that time we should have all the kids dressed and ready to go, making sure that everyone has gone for their toilet breaks, get them out to the road, get people to their section, and from that point it’s the band on the road.
Throughout the whole road it is dancing, and drinking as much liquid refreshments as possible, this is the rum and coke, and we go on and on, and on till, we get back to Paddington Arts. I think that is about four hours of non stop dancing and merriment, by that time I am very, very merry, not drunk but merry, then it is a slog to either friend or family member’s house to rest for the night, wake up fresh & early Monday morning, when we are all ready to go again.
I put on any clothes, because I will be getting changed into my costume when I get to Paddington Arts. So to make the Rum punch, I get a big bowl, put in as much rum as possible, make a nice big, big batch of rum punch, fill up a big bag, which is usually a bicycle sack with a straw, full of rum punch, then I make my way to Paddington arts, where hopefully my costume is ready for me to get and put on. As soon as my costume goes on I am now in character, I’m as crazy as can be, I am so excited that I become like a five year old at Christmas, getting the first present and opening it up.
Between the time of us getting ready and going on to the road, I will be drinking as much alcohol as possible, I am not going to lie, I am not too sure where the food comes in there, I don’t think it does. Throughout the day I display my costume, drink, drink, dance as crazy as possible, interact with the crowd as much as possible, interact with the police as much as possible, let people take as many pictures of me as possible – I do as much as possible to get myself in the lime light. This all takes about 4or 5 hours, to be honest I don’t know because by the end I am so drunk. We get back to the camp, and at that time, thank you, I have a lovely brother that escorts me home, cause I really can’t remember how I get home.
This year my Costume was an education outfit, like a graduation gown, with graduation hat & shorts. And there were educational words, written on my body, like math, science, English so forth, and that is the make up of the whole costume
It is representing the fact that many black people in the fifties and sixties came to the UK as students and went on to receive degrees and success in higher education.
When people say ‘play mas’ this means to parade yourself in costume along the route and act and be part of the costume parade. Display your costume and go as crazy as possible. Also the key thing is to make sure the crowd is entertained, along the route.