2016 Trinidad Carnival – Sunny Side Up

2016 Sunny Side Up-0836

Greetings peeps, Kermit here coming to you bright and early from Sunny Side Up, an ultra-premium all-inclusive breakfast party the Sunday morning before Trinidad Carnival. SSU was launched several years ago as a street party in Diego Martin but has since grown tremendously into the huge event that it is today.  SSU outgrew its original venue and is now held in a schoolyard in Diamond Vale which affords its patrons much more space to eat/lime/fete/get on bad and believe me peeps, the patrons of this fete get on REAL bad!  Despite its increase in size over the years, this fete has never lost touch with its roots and its core supporters and despite doubling in size and switching venues, Sunny Side Up has maintained and even enhanced the vibe and sense of intimacy that was present from day one and in this day and age, that is no small feat.  For the past few years I have spent “Breakfast Fete Sunday” at D Original Vale Fete and while I have had a great time there, in my opinion since the move from Diamond Vale to the new venue the fete has lost something and it was hard to define exactly what that was.  The people are much the same, the music is still great, the bars and infrastructure have been improved but something was still missing.  I had been hearing great things about SSU since their move so I decided to check it out myself this year and after spending a fantastic morning feteing with aliens, I knew precisely what had been lacking and that was character.

I entered SSU via the Penthouse gate and immediately found myself in the food court where I discovered several hot, delicious 2015 Sunny Side Up-0008options available for consumption. I started with a chicken wrap and then followed that with a freshly made-to-order omelet.  Lines were nonexistent and I easily walked from station to station sampling and checking out what was there and making up my mind about what to eat first.  Later in the morning I returned to devour a few gourmet doubles and once again the wait was minimal.  Full marks for food so far but this was not the only selections that were available to me.  SSU has two levels of admission for feters: Penthouse and General.  General admission allowed patrons access to a wide variety of foods including buss-up-shut and curry goat/chicken, Gyros, geera wings, pelau, oil down, provision, a salad bar, a breakfast platter with eggs, sausage, and bread and of course unlimited drinks.  The Penthouse option allows access to everything in the General section plus the aforementioned additional food options and a premium bar as well as the ability to fete on the “penthouse” which is an elevated platform along one side of the party.  The view from the “penthouse” provides a great vantage point when you could essentially overlook the whole fete while partying.  It was a very nice setup and I wasted no time making use of it all.  I hit the bar and filled my bottle with Cîroc and red bull and started circling the fete to document its transformation from a somewhat sleepy chip to a highly active wining dynamo.

The main dance area for the fete was a courtyard in the middle of the school which was bordered by a stage at one end and perpendicular to the stage, the Penthouse and a block of classrooms facing the Penthouse in which could be found more food as well as small stage containing the foam and water section of the fete. The side of the courtyard across from the stage contained drink pavilions, a photo booth, and lots and lots of different food options.  It was a well designed setup which sufficiently spread2015 Sunny Side Up-0475 out all the different options so that crowding was minimized yet it kept everything close so you were never more than a few quick steps from the action and by now the action was heating up.  People had arrived and were eating and getting ready for the wildness that would accompany the sun when it finally rose.  I spent the next hour or so wandering through the fete taking pics and tiefing wines and generally having a great time and I could tell you about all the fun people I encountered and the crews that I met and the general wildness that was slowly taking over the fete but really and truly, there is only one tale I could possibly relay to you about that morning peeps and that is the Tale of the Two Aliens.  It is a tale of adventure and romance, danger and drama, and eventually mystery.  This tale wasn’t obvious and easy to make out whilst in the middle of the fete but after reviewing my pics, I discovered several clues and was able to piece the story together and I will now regale you with the tale as I interpreted it as unfolding.

At some point during the fete, two aliens entered the party and joined the crowds in 2015 Sunny Side Up-0280the main courtyard, a blue alien and a green alien.   Mr. Green was taller and seemed to be the younger of the two while Blue Man was the more reserved of the pair.  They fell into the party normel normel like they had been here before and to my surprise nobody batted an eye when they showed up and started moving around the fete and before you knew it Mr. Green was wining hard with a squad of women and Blue Man was touring the fete on the back of a pardnah!  Next thing you know, Mr Green moved on from the hard wining squad and started pelting waist behind a lovely lady on one side of the fete.  Unfortunately, this lovely lady’s Mr. Mister was present and he immediately accosted Mr. Green and threatened violence!  Happily the beef was squashed and after both parties shook hands and took a pic, everybody turned their attention to the stage to take in the live performance that had begun.  When Mr. Green noticed his former wildness squad on stage wining with the performers, he decided to head to the stage and join them and join them he did.  I think that even he was 2015 Sunny Side Up-0342surprised with his flexibility as he was wuk up and ben up in all kind of ways before he was eventually rescued.  After that he joined Blue Man who was chilling by the rail dropping lyrics on the ladies around him.  Before long the foam generator was switched on and a whole new level of wotless was unleashed on that side of the fete.  As I was occupied documenting this wildness I lost track of the aliens for a while but they did pop up intermittently in the background of several pics until they finally surfaced just in front of the Penthouse where again they attempted to control ALL the women they could get their hands on except that by this time Blue Man decided to get in the game and he made his move by tackling a lovely young lady who seemed not to mind and even encouraged his efforts!  Again with my attentions focused on the fete surging all around me I lost track of the two until I happened to discover Mr. Green lying down on the stage chilling.  Another round of performers were now setting up so they helped him to his feet and even allowed him to 2015 Sunny Side Up-0501chill on stage while they performed.  The lineup of performers that was then brought on stage was so laden with high quality talent that I completely forgot about Blue Man and I spent the next hour or two happily dancing and taking pics of the singers which included Lord Nelson in his customary onsie!  Nello came out to put on a show and with cane in hand and onsie open to the waist he belted out tune after tune after tune and we danced and cheered and exhorted him to continue and he willingly obliged.  I happily spent the rest of the fete bouncing between the bar, the foam area, and the Penthouse taking in all the sights and wildness which is the hallmark of a great breakfast fete and this is the 2015 Sunny Side Up-0697exact point when I realized what Vale was lacking and what SSU had in abundance, character!

Back in the day Vale had their share of characters; the Wall Crew, the Roof Crew, the Hose Crew, et al. were all present in the street party version and things were GREAT but when Vale moved, sure the Crews and the regulars came as well but the intimacy and the vibes didn’t transfer well into the new spot and while it may eventually do so, it hasn’t as yet. With Sunny Side Up however, the foam and sprinkler people changed locations and took advantage of the larger space to increase their numbers and their cavorting in the foam.  There were several crews here including a “Carnival Baby” crew who came dressed in yellow with yellow pacifiers to boot!  The alien support crew was present with alien eye sunglasses and even sunglasses with working wipers on them!  Crews from several countries all repping their colors hard were here and even two aliens from who knows which planet came through and of all the fetes they picked, they picked Sunny Side Up and were welcomed with open arms.  This all-embracing diverse mix of people from all walks of life who converge here to watch the sun come up with similarly fun-loving people creates a feeling of camaraderie which, rather than becoming diluted by the increased numbers present, instead has become more concentrated with the addition of more like-minded people!  Sunny Side Up 2016 was an excellent fete and here is where I will be spending my Carnival Sunday mornings for the foreseeable future!2016 Sunny Side Up-0899

In case you were wondering what happened to the aliens, Mr. Green was last seen on stage chilling with the band and I hear that he eventually went home with somebody but as I did not see that with my own two eyes, I cannot confirm anything. Sadly, Blue Man was not as fortunate as he apparently partied a little too hard and sprung a leak and after playing it off as long as he could he eventually passed out and was taken away hopefully to be patched.  Keep an eye out next year peeps and hopefully you might see them again.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

 

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

2016 Trinidad Carnival – Silent Morning

2016 Silent Morning 30

Greetings peeps, Kermit here preparing to take to the high seas with Silent Morning, the ultimate Trinidad Carnival boat ride. This Carnival Friday morning party has been a must-attend event for many years and it is the perfect way to kick off the Carnival weekend.  Silent Morning began as a cooler fete on a single ship and has now expanded to two ships one of which is still a cooler boat with the other being drinks-inclusive.  Everyone gets breakfast at the pre-boarding warmup though and this is where I will pick up the commentary this morning.

I arrived at the Pier 1 parking lot to discover that an area in the corner of the lot had been fenced off and tented and here was 2016 Silent Morning 28where the Silent Morning breakfast was being held. The area is essentially a large square with a huge tent in the middle with tables and chairs arranged underneath while around the perimeter of the square the different breakfast choices, the DJ tent, and an ice distribution tent (more on this later) were set up.  There were many breakfast choices available for patrons and because there was a lot of space available they were spread out nicely thus avoiding the unfortunate crowding and confusion that took place the year before.  The music was jamming, the patrons were streaming in and getting tucked in to some breakfast, and folks were preparing themselves for the seagoing odyssey that was about to begin.  The skies were overcast and rain was forecasted for the morning but even the 2016 Silent Morning 73showers that hit during breakfast couldn’t slow the vibe that was building and in fact it even served to increase the wildness in some of the more excitable patrons.  In Trinidad rain only stops cricket so when the water started falling some patrons sought shelter under the tents, some danced and wined in the rain, while we just broke out Jello shots and said cheers to the weekend.  As I had mentioned earlier, one of the Silent Morning vessels was a cooler ship and typically coolers with no glass bottles would allowed on board but this year would be slightly different.  This year the ship designated as the cooler ship, the Treasure Queen Too, was new to Silent Morning and they were not allowing coolers on the ship.  Liquor would have to be carried on board in bags and ice would be provided free of charge on the ship as well as in the ice tent in the breakfast area.  When boarding was announced this new wrinkle caused some last minute hustling and organizing and this did complicate the boarding process but as is always the case with hardcore Silent Morning patrons, we took it all in stride and made the best of the situation.

After boarding, my crew and I immediately grabbed a strategic spot on the second level of the ship along an outside rail (for breeze) and a wooden tabletop (for mixing drinks) and resumed slamming Jello shots and alcohol syringes. While the email sent by Silent Morning management described the Treasure Queen Too as a newly renovated boat, the reality was far from that.  It might have been newly renovated right after WWII and recently repainted but its facilities were seriously lacking and were definitely not up to the high standard that we had become used to for Silent Morning and indeed soon after the party, management emailed a letter to all patrons acknowledging the vessel’s shortcomings and apologizing for the conditions aboard the Treasure Queen Too.  I will not flog a dead horse by recounting these shortcomings but suffice it to say patrons can rest assured that in order to maintain Silent Morning’s traditionally high quality, management has resolved to be even more vigilant with respect to future events and will take more stringent steps to ensure that the vessels procured are delivered shipshape and exactly as contracted.  After the trying boarding and even more trying Cobo-sweat pre-launch moving of folks from the top floor to the lower floors, the Treasure Queen Too finally weighed anchor and pulled away from the dock and SILENT MORNING WAS ON!

2016 Silent Morning 79As I have said many times about Silent Morning, this fete is not for everyone. It takes a special type of person to be a hardcore SM feter but once you are, this fete is like the air in your lungs and who can do without air for very long.  An SM feter comes to the fete prepared for anything and will adapt to whatever situation presents itself, and not just adapt but thrive!  This year despite the rain that fell, despite the less than ideal boarding experience, despite the run down facilities on the ship, and despite the long wait to depart, the hardcore SM crew present didn’t bat an eye.  We took it all in stride because we knew that once the Treasure Queen Too left the dock, we would make up for all the stress by feteing that much harder and peeps, so said so done!  Let me give you an example of what I mean by hardcore SM people.  I have witnessed some of this myself and have had similar stories related to me over the years but this is what happened to me and my crew this year.

My crew and I were some of the first people to board and as I said earlier we snagged a prime spot on the second level and we spread out. About halfway through the boarding process three young ladies, upon seeing some railing space in the middle of the spot we had settled on, decided to use that space as their base.  Noticing this, we looked at each other quizzically for a second and upon realizing that they were newcomers to Silent Morning and as such probably didn’t know about proper railing etiquette not to mention the level of shenanigans and wildness that this particular crew will get into once the ship sails, we decided to politely have a chat and explain this to them.  We explained that we had already staked out this spot and while it looked empty now, our crew was large and once everyone was present we would occupy the space that they were currently in.  They said that this was ok with them and they really liked this spot and wanted to stay.  We politely explained that we are “not normal people” and as a matter of fact some of the crew are “even more not normal” that the rest of us and we cannot be held responsible for the madness that was highly likely to occur amongst and all around us.  We let them know that they were more than welcome to remain where they were but if they decided to stay, we would then consider them to be a part of our crew 2016 Silent Morning 103and as such they would be expected to participate in whatever wildness presented itself.  They smilingly agreed so we said a small prayer for them, cracked open the drinks and started drinking for effect.  I decided to roam around for a bit and upon my return (around 30 minutes or so) the party was in full swing.  The group of three ladies had now expanded to include a few more ladies plus a fellow or two and so far they looked like they were doing ok but I knew that it was early and my crew hadn’t yet hit 3rd gear.  I made another round of the ship and when I returned I immediately saw that my crew had hit 3rd and was about to shift up to 4th.  What gave it away you ask?  The 3 foot diameter by 3 foot high inflated mushroom that had sprung up in their midst gave it away!

Apparently the “even more not normal” 3G members of the crew had inflated a mushroom which they brought with them and were using it for ice storage but they weren’t done as when I walked up they were inflating mini mushrooms to complete the set. HA, I thought, now the newbies would begin to see what we were trying to warn them about and while they did have a peculiar expression on their faces while witnessing this spectacle they seemed to be talking it all in stride.  Hmmm, these noobs 2016 Silent Morning 332might be  SM material after all but it was still early and if I knew my “even more not normal” peeps, they still had a few more tricks up their wife beaters that had not yet been revealed and of course I was proven right when the Elder G broke out G-Shark!  G-Shark was a large inflatable Grey Shark and once inflated it wasn’t long before it made its way from hand to hand cruising all around the ship causing havoc and wild hilarity wherever it went.  Initially I tried to follow it to document some of its adventures but I couldn’t keep up and for the rest of the fete I would bounce it up intermittently as I wandered around.  Upon returning to base camp to refill my drink, I saw that there were more inflatable toys and I decided to embrace the horror and join in the madness.  These new inflatables were two “floaties” that were designed to fit around one’s waist with a Giraffe and a Toucan on the front.  I snagged the Toucan and with it secured firmly around my waist I roamed the decks secure in the knowledge that should it become necessary to 2016 Silent Morning 503abandon ship, this would provide me with all the flotational powers of a boneless chicken roti.  Before I wandered away though I checked on our newbies and they were very impressed with Mr. Toucan and they happily posed with me and tried to give him drinks.  It was while watching them try to give a Toucan floatie a drink that I realized that Silent Morning Hardcore now had several new members as their entire crew had now meshed fully with mine and were getting on bad with us like we’d been partners for years.  Everybody was hugging, sharing drinks, shots, laughs, wines, and good times and peeps, THIS is the magic that happens at Silent Morning every year.  If you come with the correct attitude and leave all inhibitions and biases behind, you will have a blast and are guaranteed to make new friends.  On the surface we had nothing in common; they looked to be much younger that we were; they weren’t Trinis; plus we’d never met or even seen each other before. At first glance they looked fairly timid and not the SM sort but looks can be deceiving and while they didn’t initially strike me as folks who would embrace our level of winery, they definitely went there with us all the way down and back.  MAGIC!

Silent Morning attracts people of all ages and from all different walks of life and draws them into a melting pot on the sea and when everyone is all mixed up and swirling around with the right infusion of alcohol, music, and vibes, it forges bonds between its willing participants, bonds that last long after we return to our lives outside of the ship. THIS is why Silent Morning is a must-go event and THIS is why its hardcore attendees patiently endure whatever hiccups may occur because we all know what is going to happen on that ship once we are loose on the high seas and we all want to feel that MAGIC again and again and again.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

 2016 Silent Morning 314

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

 

 

 

 

 

2016 Trinidad Carnival – Mental : De-Constructed

2016 Mental 201

Greetings peeps, Kermit here coming to you from Mental, one the most fun and hype fetes for the carnival season. Hosted by Trini Jungle Juice, Mental is a themed pool party held on the Wednesday before carnival and after attending last year’s event I knew I would be in for a wild time.  This year’s theme was De-Constructed and as its name implies, construction attire/accessories were the order of the day and after seeing how enthusiastically Mental’s patrons embrace these themes over the years I knew that I would need extra memory in my camera for all the sights I was sure to see.  Once again Mental was held poolside at the Ambassador Hotel from 5:00 pm to 1:00 am and as I entered the fete around 6:30 pm I knew that I was arriving rather early as Mental doesn’t really get going until the sun goes down.  Once the sun disappears though, this fete goes INSANE as you will see from the 1,000 pictures I uploaded.  Now this is the part of my commentary where, having finished my introduction, I would close with a transitional sentence and use it to segue into the next paragraph but after last year, I discovered that my traditional review format does not really work for Mental because as a fete, Mental is very unique and it has a character that is extremely different from the rest of the carnival events.  To attempt to describe and quantify it using a typical set of universal fete characteristics would not do it justice since Mental is a fete that defies such mundane categorizations.  Since effective writing does require some structure, I will try to adhere as much as possible to the format that you my regular readers have become used to over the years but be warned, this formatting will not last long as much of what happened in this fete defies description.

Ordinarily I would now describe the venue and give you a sense of the layout so here goes: After passing through security you walk up the stairs and you arrive at the lower end of the fete looking straight at the pool and at its far end, the stage on which the DJs resided for the night. To your right is the main bar and circling around the pool from the right are two smaller bars and several specialty drink pavilions.  Normally at this point I would head to the food area so here is my review of that: Facing the stage at the bottom end of the pool, on your right would be stairs leading up to a patio which overlooks the pool and essentially the entire fete.  At the back of this patio is a large covered area where the food selections for the 2016 Mental 252night were to be found.  The area contained many beautifully arranged tables and chairs and was nicely decorated and with brightly colored cloth sheets.  As to the food, I cannot really comment about it because after initially checking out the food area, the action down below was so engrossing I never managed to return.  It is at this point that would begin describing the party itself in terms of the patrons and the vibe and everything else but because Mental is MENTAL, I….JUST….CAN’T so here ends the regular commentary.

I mean, I could have tried to talk about the abundance of construction themed beach wear and bikinis that was everywhere in the fete; I would have tried to talk about the giant TJJ Jackhammer that was 2016 Mental 722on the stage as a prop which Patrick from Nuphoric promptly snatched up and took for a lap of the party all the while exhorting the ladies to come and take drill; I might even have attempted to chronicle the adventures of J’Ouvert Mike who adeptly demonstrated why J’Ouvert was his first name to all of the lovely ladies who joined him on stage; I probably should have tried to mention the yards and yards of “caution” tape wrapped around people’s backside, legs, back, and all other body parts where one could get hurt in this fete; The costumes and construction attire should definitely have gotten at least a line or 2 especially the mischievous cutie who came wearing a foam drill and proceeded to “pelt drill” on everybody who passed close to her! I really 2016 Mental 29would have loved to explain all about the Free Wine Zone and the Bubbling Zone and definitely the Drunken Zone but this alas, this is simply not possible.  Why you ask?  Surely I with all of my froggy journalistic ability and experience must be able to conjure up some sequence of intricate wordplay which precisely conveys the scene that I beheld that Wednesday night but peeps, I am at a loss.  In truth, while I can clearly remember the first few hours at Mental, the later the night went on the fuzzier my recollections become so I cannot in good conscience attempt to relate what I saw when simply put, I cannot accurately remember what I saw.  Thankfully though, I had my trusty Nikon with me, lots of batteries for the flash, and several Gigabytes of memory available.  It took me a while to edit the more than 1,200 pictures I captured that night and I will let the thousand or so that I ended up posting do my talking because according my vague memories (which were eventually backed up by Mr. Nikon) the party was OFF THE CHAIN and I apparently had a fantastic time once again.

Some fetes people go to primarily because of the bar, some primarily because of the food, some primarily because of the entertainment but mostly people go for some combination of all the above but Mental is not that easily quantified. Of course the bar at Mental 2016 Mental 195was very good, of course the DJs were excellent, and while I never tried the food the preparation area looked on point but that is not why you would go to Mental.  You would go to Mental to see ladies wine on a drill while other ladies dressed in construction themed bikinis bring you shots and then wine on YOU.  You would go to Mental to see men breathe fire in the pool and blow flames 10 feet up in the air.  You would go to Mental to go MENTAL yourself and to hell with the resulting neck/back/leg/waist pains the next day!  You would go to Mental because you know that once there you will be amongst fellow Mentalists and can safely let go of all your inhibitions and let your inner Mental run wild.  There is nothing else I can say about Mental except that I will DEFINITELY be here again next year and if you feel like going MENTAL with us, then ROPE EEEEEEEEN!  There is always room for one more in the asylum!

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

 

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

 

2016 Trinidad Carnival – Zanté – Addicted

Zante 2016 - # 283

Greetings peeps, Kermit here coming to you from Trinidad Carnival on the Tuesday before carnival at Zanté, a wonderful under the radar fete which emphasizes vibes and fun more than dressing up and posing.   Since its inception, I have attended Zanté every year except one (and that was because I wasn’t home for carnival that year) and every year Zanté has delivered a quality fete experience and this year I came expecting a similar scene and I was not disappointed.

Zanté began as an all-inclusive fete and over the years it became apparent that that particular type of fete format was rapidly becoming overused and quite expensive and as a result people’s pockets were bawling. It does cost a lot to host a good all-inclusive and that cost would have to be Zante 2016 - # 1shared by the patrons.  After 2014’s event, Zanté’s management racked their brains to find better way to have a great fete without the excessive cost of an all-inclusive and they decided that Zanté would go Dutch.  For Zanté 2015, management would provide food, unlimited cups, chaser, ice, music and entertainment, and Pixi Juice – a  deliciously deadly punch along with various jello shots and other alcoholic treats; patrons would be responsible for bringing whatever alcohol they would be drinking and a wotless attitude because this is not a fete in here this is MADNESS!  For $300TTD this was a fantastic bargain and in 2015 Zanté ended up being a great backyard bash up in the hills of Santa Cruz.  Here we are now in 2016 and Zanté is once again going Dutch and after listening to feedback from last year’s patrons the venue was moved into Port-of-Spain.  It is still a backyard fete (albeit in the front of the house) but we are now at lower Alberto Street in the heart of Town.

As you enter the venue, you find yourself at the lower end of a rectangle. Looking at the upper end the food tent is on the left, in the middle are the Zante 2016 - # 34DJs and on the right is the bar.  The bathroom facilities are accessible from behind the bar and the rest of the space was open with a few highboy tables scattered around the fete.  Naturally I roll in super early with my bottle of Cîroc Amaretto, grab a table, and start scouting the venue noting the best vantage points for capturing great pics.  I noticed that the food was already being served so I headed over to the food tent to see what’s what and to grab something to eat. There I found mini vegetarian rotis, roasted potatoes, wings, Geera pork, crab and dumplings, and corn soup and little later on in the night the doubles man arrived with doubles and aloo pies.  I made a plate, got a cup of soup, and devoured them back at home base.  After that delicious meal it was time to drink so I hit the bar, procured my supplies, mixed myself a strong drink, and waited for the patrons to arrive.  As the night went on the masses rolled in and the atmosphere in the fete went from Chill to Active to Animated to Zanté.  What is a Zanté atmosphere you ask?  Well, you kind of have to experience it to really understand but I will attempt to explain as best I can.

Zanté has a core of regular attendees and everyone pretty much knows everyone else in the core. This group makes up probably 10-15% of the total attendees and while not everyone in the core comes every year, enough core people show up to ensure that the fete has a familiar feel from year to year.  Around 50% of the people in the fete are either repeat Zanté-ers or friends of the core and as such are guaranteed to know/recognize at least some of the people in the fete.  The rest of the attendees (35–40%) are brand new to Zanté and since they are newbies they likely won’t know many (if any) people present.  Now in some fetes, this mix of patrons might serve to dampen the vibe but not in Zanté.  In the preceding paragraph I described Zanté’s vibe as progressing from Chill to Active to Animated to Zanté and now I will explain how that description applies to this fete’s Zante 2016 - # 155mix of regular and new patrons.  “Chill” describes the first couple hours where folks arrive and get situated; at this stage people are more concerned with checking out the layout of the venue and locating the bar/food/restrooms and picking a good spot as a base of operations for the night.  The “Active” level kicks in once these basic needs have been achieved, patrons have eaten and have organized their alcohol stocks and have started drinking, and are now looking around the fete checking out their fellow patrons to try to gauge what type of folks are present and what kind of fete it will likely end up being.  This “Active” level applies mostly to the newbies as the Zanté veterans already know exactly how the fete will end up, the only question being what triggers the metamorphosis.  Once that trigger is pulled however, things proceed quickly into the “Animated” phase and this is where the veterans are now breaking loose showing their true feteing colors and some of the newbies have gained enough courage (mental or liquid) to engage with the vets and join in the revelry.  This year’s trigger turned out to be Hypasounds, a Bajan entertainer extraordinaire who Zante 2016 - # 199came out and whipped the crowd into such a frenzy that after his performance the fete was well and truly Animated and it was only a matter of time before everyone transcended into a state of Zanté.

Zanté is achieved when you can no longer distinguish between core, veteran, and newbie and it usually happens during the last hour or two of the night. This is the true charm of Zanté the fete and even though I see it every single year and I write about it every single year I am still amazed when it happens every single year.  Even the most unlikely of patrons achieves Zanté by the end of the night whether you are a Barca supporter from or a German crew from Germany (duh).  No matter how seemingly out of their element a Zanté newbie might look at the start of the fete, by the end of the night they have felt and responded to the pervasive vibes and end up partying and hugging and jumping with any and everybody around them and having a blast!  These excerpts from Kees Dieffenthaller’s 2016 song People perfectly captures the Zanté feeling:

In every fete there’s always a special crew

Going Til morning , fete Til we falling

You make me feel to take a jump up with you

Sip what you’re drinking

Tell me when we linking

I consider Allyuh meh people peopleZante 2016 - # 249

Jump up with meh people people

Wave up with meh people people

Get on bad with meh people people

Oh Gosh! Look meh people people

Zante 2016 - # 198Jump up with meh people people

Wave up with meh people people

Get on bad with meh people

I want to fete and carry on

Celebrate and carry on

I want to fete and carry on

Celebrate and carry on

And so it went for the rest of the night peeps. Everyone in Zanté was People and everyone behaved as such jumping, waving, getting on bad, and celebrating with all the other People and as is typical with Zanté, the 2016 newbies who return next year will join the ranks of the veterans and will in turn welcome the 2017 newbies thus continuing the circle of vibes and love and carefree fun.

Zanté is by no means the biggest or wildest or most raucous fete for the carnival but it terms of good people, great vibes, and REAL fun at a reasonable price, you cannot want for more! I’m already stalking my 2017 carnival flight and can’t wait to join my People both old and new at Zanté so come fete with us and experience the Zanté feeling for yourself.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

Zante 2016 - # 330

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

 

 

 

 

2015 Miami Carnival – Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert

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Greetings peeps, Kermit D. Frog here bringing to you coverage of 2015 Miami Carnival from the Central Broward Regional Park, site of this morning’s J’Ouvert parade.   J’Ouvert in Miami is a fairly recent addition to the carnival scene and since I have heard very good things about it, this year I decided to see for myself what the hype was about.  I decided to play with Red Ants & Ice Box and when I arrived at the park around 9:15 a.m. I found myself in a long line of cars creeping into the $20 on-site parking.  It took around an hour to enter and park but once parked, I quickly made my way to the parade route to locate my band.

Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium is a large municipal park in Lauderhill, Florida, owned and operated by Broward County.  It has and continues to host a diverse selection of sporting events including soccer, baseball, Australian Rules football, rugby, and cricket.  Today however, it was hosting a different kind of sporting event and whereas the athletes taking part in these games do get very dirty and sweaty in the course of their activities, to the casual eye these participants might not appear to be in peak physical form but make no mistake peeps, J’Ouvert is no joke Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 95and if taken lightly it can put you on your back as some of my pictures will illustrate.  Basically the route was this: starting from the entrance gates, a roadway winds around the circumference of the park and the music trucks make their way one after the other around this roadway eventually returning to the starting point.  I am not sure exactly how long the parade route was but after meeting up with my band around 10:30 am it took around 4 hours to make an almost complete circuit.  Those 4 hours though were spent in the company of some of the duttiest, fittest, sexiest, most fun loving masqueraders that I have encountered outside of Trinidad carnival but I am jumping ahead so let me begin at the beginning.

By the time I reached the start of the parade route, several bands had already departed so after making sure that my band wasn’t still there, I set out along the route to find them and after passing through a few other groups I came upon the glorious mix of music and madness that was Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert.  The music truck was blasting out tunes which could be clearly heard and felt from afar while the drinks truck was doing brisk business supplying cold drinks to the thirsty masqueraders surrounding it.  After making a quick circle of the scene, I acquired a Cîroc and cranberry from one of the lovely ladies at the bar and I headed into the throng to get acquainted with my fellow dutty people.  In my opinion, as a form of mas, J’Ouvert is a very unique, powerful, and all embracing medium that fosters inclusion and participation much more that “pretty” mas does.  When I entered the melee behind the music truck, I hadn’t yet “officially” applied any paint/mud/powder to my person so, for the most part, Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 73my brightly colored official Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert t-shirt was still clean.  Naturally, this did not last very long and not primarily because of incidental contact with already “decorated” masqueraders because as I roamed through the band some masqueraders had gotten hold of squeeze bottles with paint and upon seeing me improperly attired in clean clothes, they helpfully and enthusiastically applied liberal amounts of paint to my person and indeed to anyone in my general vicinity.  “What a thoughtful bunch!” I mused!  “How in the world did they know that I was just wondering where I could find rivers of paint to apply to my body?”  Naturally I had to thank them for their service by taking their picture and pelting waist with them. I mean, anything less would be uncivilized.  Packets of powder were also being liberally deployed all around me and through the colored fog that enveloped the dancing masses you could clearly see that everyone was having a blast and this peeps, is J’Ouvert’s greatest attribute.

When you fully and truly embrace J’Ouvert, you undergo a transformation that encompasses not only your physical attributes but your inner self as well.  You cease to care as much about the external appearances of the people around you and you focus instead on their commonality of cause.  To the true J’Ouvert aficionado it matters little what you looked like before you covered yourself in mud/paint/powder/cocoa/whatever;  what really matters is the fact that you ARE covered in mud/paint/powder/cocoa/whatever and that fact engenders a pervasive unity and harmony that Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 219is as wondrous to behold as it is to be a part of.  Today, Red Ants & Ice Box management was using everything imaginable to completely cover all participants in something from small squeeze bottles of paint to large buckets of paint/oil and even to a powder power blaster!  Yes peeps, a power POWDER blaster.  You know the compressed air t-shirt guns that are frequently used in sporting events to shoot compacted t-shirts up into the crowd?  Well picture the same thing except that instead of loading it with a cylindrically packaged compressed t-shirt, the operator fills it with a cup or two of powder then when the trigger is pulled, BOOM, instant colorful cloud!  It was magnificent!

The paint and powder party had been maintaining at a slow and steady pace around the park and everyone was, to say the least, good and tipsy.  The midday sun was blazing down on us, a cool breeze was blowing, and the vibes were sweet sweet sweet when all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice booming across the microphone!  It was none Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 252other than the voice of Nuphoric and I realized that it was   ABOUT    TO    GO    DOWN! When this hype man (whose physical size in NO WAY reflects his stage presence) gets going, the fete goes from wild to insane quick fast in a hurry and so said, so done.  People lost their minds and started wining in all kinds of ways I have never seen before.  Peeps, I can’t properly describe this particular instance but one young lady literally started wining horizontally across a fellow!  Literally!  Imagine two people standing up wining normel with the woman in front and the man behind.  Now imagine that same scene with the man still upright but with the woman rotated counter-clockwise 90 degrees with both parties still wining.  It looked like some type of expert level yoga-soca pose and she handled it like a boss. Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 494 Strangely enough, the fellow didn’t seem very surprised while all of this was going on which leads me to believe that this was probably not the first time this has happened!  You remember my earlier point about highly trained J’Ouvert athletes?  Well this is exactly what I was talking about!  If an average couple tried this, somebody was going to end up in the First-Aid tent but these two pulled off this advanced move like they were dropping a tourist wine at a church social.  The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of paint, powder, and prancing as we cavorted all the way around the park and eventually found ourselves back at the parade’s start at around 2:30 p.m.

My first Miami J’Ouvert was a fantastic experience and I would heartily recommend it to anyone looking to get dutty and have a great time.  Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert was completely on point in all things starting with super easy costume pickup, continuing with great music and plentiful premium drinks, and culminating with lots and lots and lots of great vibes and fun people.  I can hardly wait to do it all again in 2016!

 

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

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One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

 

 

2015 Miami Carnival – Duck Work

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Greetings peeps, Kermit here bringing you coverage from 2015 Miami Carnival and this year, instead of attending same lineup as I usually do, I decided to switch things up and check out some new fetes the first of which is Duck Work, an event that I have heard great things about but for one reason or another have never attended.  So this year I found myself outside Club Space in downtown Miami on Carnival Friday waiting to kick off what I hoped would be a fantastic evening.

When we arrived, we were informed by security that the venue was not yet open as they were still readying the upstairs so we waited in line for around 15-20 minutes and eventually we got the green light to enter.  Club Space is a huge Miami club and today we were Ducking Work on the rooftop terrace so we made our way up through several floors until we hit the top floor.  As it says in the name, the club’s theme was Space, as in space…the final frontier, so there were many outer space references sprinkled everywhere around the club not the least of which was a spaceman 2015 Duck Work 302chilling on a bench and various Jetson’s looking decorations.  This motif was expanded on dramatically later on in the night but I’ll get to that soon enough.  Our rooftop site comprised of one outdoor area under a huge tent and an adjacent dance floor which, while it was under a normal roof, the space was still connected to the outdoor area and was very open thus creating a very large combined party area.  The outdoor area was in the shape of a rectangle with the DJ booth overlooking the dance floor on one of the long sides and bars on the other surrounding sides.  Along the perimeter of the dance floor there were two small stages and one long stage where throughout the night ladies magically appeared to dance and wow the crowd.  Since the fete had literally just opened, the crowd was very sparse and so after making a quick circle to get the lay of the land, I secured some adult beverages and settled down to await the onslaught.

The name of the party was Duck Work but it wasn’t until around 6:00 pm before the crowd started to arrive in decent numbers so it looked more 2015 Duck Work 138like folks came after work rather than ducking it.  No scenes though because once you were here, you obviously came to fete and the vibe was picking up nicely.  As I mentioned before there were several stages around the dance floor and they were being occupied by costumed ladies whose dance moves did much to accelerate the pulse of the males in attendance.  Their costumes varied from a somewhat traditional Trinidad Carnival costume to some wildly space-age garments complete with light up face masks!  Later on in the evening a drummer even took over one of the stages and serenaded us with percussive selections that had us considering busting out a Best Village move!  The night’s entertainment was not only limited to the stages as ladies were also engaged in some high flying acrobatic dance routines on two trapeze hoops suspended high above the stages.    It was first class entertainment everywhere you looked and that, when coupled with the unrelenting pace being supplied by the DJs, didn’t take long for the fete to get started in earnest and once things got rolling, the momentum quickly built.

Apparently last year’s Duck Work was a pool party and many of the attendees came dressed for the same this year and their apparel (or lack thereof) also contributed greatly to the overall niceness of the vibe.  I did hear several brief grumbles about the lack of a pool but this didn’t slow down the merriment much and thus it was a happy mix of carefree revelry that pervaded the night and made Duck Work a very enjoyable fete and an excellent start to the carnival weekend.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Miami J’Ouvert is next….

Kermit out!

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One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

2015 Outta de Blue – Washington, DC

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Greetings peeps, Kermit here bringing you coverage from QRC’s 12th Annual Washington, DC edition of the Outta de Blue fundraising fete. This fete is a staple on the summer calendar and its patrons have come to expect a high level of service and value at this event. For the past few years it was held at The Park at Fourteenth, a club in downtown DC and it has been excellent every time. The venue was swanky, the food was excellent, and the bars were plentiful and their service, excellent. This year however, management decided to move the event to a new venue and to hold it on a date later in the summer and for a brief moment, I had a twinge of concern but as it turns out I needn’t have worried at all. The new location was The Fillmore Silver Spring, a dynamic, first-class music, entertainment, and community use venue in downtown Silver Spring, MD. First opened in 2011 the Fillmore has a capacity of 2000 and while I did not think we would fill the venue I wondered how much of that space would actually be used.

After passing through security in the atrium, you enter the main room via doors on your left and as you walk into the giant dance floor the stage with the DJs is facing you. The area in the center of the floor was clear but around its perimeter were arranged dinner tables for patrons to sit and enjoy their meals. Immediately on your left as you enter there was a large bar and the Zurena Bar. Zurena is a 2015 KERMIT OUTTA DE BLUE 20delicious new brand of local cocktail mixes which is bursting onto the DMV scene in a big way in 2015. If you haven’t tried it yet, be sure to do so first chance you get. Believe me, you will not be disappointed! On the second floor, there is a balcony which looks down onto the dance floor below with a smaller bar and dance area at the back. Since the crowd was now starting to trickle in I decided to take advantage of the temporary lull in the action to grab something to eat so I made my way to the food which was already set out to make my choice. I decided on East Indian and devoured the roti, curry chicken and channa with gusto. Fully fortified, I grabbed a couple Zurena drinks and circled the fete to take some pics of the fabulous venue as it filled up.

The scene in the Fillmore could have come straight out of Las Vegas as the fog machines coupled with the fantastic club lighting gave 2015 KERMIT OUTTA DE BLUE 107the whole event a vibrancy that was not present at its previous venue. As I made my way around the party taking pics and trying to capture the mood, more and more patrons filled in and what had started as a sparse crowd in a large room, quickly turned into a large crowd in a large room. Most of the action took place on the first floor with the balcony level serving more as a liming spot replete with chairs and tables to accommodate that role. The DJs were warming up the masses by playing some back-in-times tunes, and while they were back-in-times to me I dare say many of the patrons present would define back-in-times a lot differently. As is always the case at Outta de Blue, the attendees encompassed several generations of feters from the ones who were partying hard when Sparrow first burst onto the scene all the way to those who have never seen him perform live and the DJs always do a great job of keeping everyone’s vibes flowing throughout the evening. After the 2015 KERMIT OUTTA DE BLUE 133crowd had eaten their fill and got a nice charge of alcohol in their system, it was time to fete and now that the feters had been warmed up it was time to pick up the pace so on came Andy Mix! Before long all seats were empty and the dance floor was packed with people wining, swaying, dancing, prancing and having an all around great time. This carried on unabated for several hours and at the end of the night it was a tired, slightly sore but completely happy crowd that exited the Fillmore to head home.

The 12th edition of Outta de Blue was once again a roaring good time! The bar service was excellent, the food was catered by the same beloved Chef as always and as always it was delicious, the DJs mashed up the place with masterfully selected and skillfully delivered music, and as always patrons came out in large numbers, dressed to the 9’s to support a very worthy cause. I think the Fillmore suits this fete to a “T” and I would definitely cast my vote to return here in 2016. One thing is certain though, no matter where it is held, Outta de Blue is sure to delight.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out.

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One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

2015 DC Carnival Experience – A.M.Nesia

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Greetings peeps, Kermit here wrapping up the DC Carnival Experience for 2015 at the best boat cruise/party in the DMV, A.M.Nesia. This is the third sailing of this boatride and once again it is aboard the Cherry Blossom and having done this twice before, the repeat patrons knew what to expect and the expression “third time’s the charm” definitely applied this Sunday afternoon.

Since people knew to check in and get their wristbands before boarding, the actual boarding process was very smooth; you just displayed the wristband and walked on. Once on board everything was ready and waiting for the onslaught. The two bars were fullyKERMIT 2015 A.M.Nesia56 stocked and staffed and on the lower deck the food was out and available for consumption so I after obtaining a Goose and juice, I immediately joined the line and got my eat on. Ignoring the salad and plantains, I went with pure protein for my meal and selected the meatballs and wings which were hot and delicious. Serving the food during boarding was a great idea and I believe a new innovation this year. The boarding took around 30 minutes or so and since we were close to the dock, the music couldn’t be played at full volume so during this time the most folks made heavy use of the food and bars and got themselves ready for when we took to the open water and we could really get to feteing. When the last person boarded, the ship’s captain came on the mic to give his mandatory safety speech and then we shoved off and it was ON!

The ship essentially has 3 levels: the lower level where you board which contains a bar and the food, an middle level with another bar and the DJs, and an upper level which is on the roof of the middle level and is a nice cool out spot to catch some breeze and chill. Most of the action takes place on the middle level with the DJs so I positioned myself close to a window on that floor, sipped my drink, and waited for the madness to begin. The 30-45 KERMIT 2015 A.M.Nesia63minutes or so after sailing is the warm up period so my fellow patrons and I allowed the food to digest and took some time to mingle and socialize. It was a delightful time of sipping drinks, chatting, making small talk and generally acquainting yourself with everyone and this is a very important period in the fete because once the madness kicks off, conversation ceases and speaking is essentially reduced to yells, screams, and other forms of nonverbal communication. Before long the fever took hold and spread like wildfire and the same people that had just been milling around delicately balancing a plate in one hand and drink in the other are now balancing on one leg while holding on to two or three people with their other limbs! Once this party fire ignites it cannot be stopped and must continue until all combustible materials have been consumed and since there was plenty liquor, plenty great DJs, plenty stamina, and plenty willing winers there was lots to combust so the fire blazed and we reveled in its heat!

The DJ lineup was formidable as always and consisted of Sprang International, Hazzard, Private Ryan, and Pantrinvibes and they took turns pouring gasoline on the party fire that raged all over the ship. They played anything and everything they wanted from soca (newKERMIT 2015 A.M.Nesia404 and old), reggae and rockers (new and old), to back in times jams and current hits and the masses sang along lustily with every selection they played. From time to time I left the main dance area to check out the rest of the activities taking place around the ship and I discovered that while the numbers of people in these other areas were small their enthusiasm was very large as they were using the extra space where they were to attempt some creative dance moves which, just looking at them made my back ache and my legs burn! As the afternoon progressed I also noticed that food was still available for the taking and while initially the bars were quite crowded, as the cruise went on the lines eventually went away and now you were able to secure a fresh drink in less than 5 minutes.

I spent most of my time on that main dance floor though and I had an amazing time and despite my fanatical reluctance to let my camera leave my hand in a fete, somehow I ended up on my camera in several pictures some of which I only “remembered” after seeing them while editing the album! I could attribute this memory lapse to a combination of the excellent bar service I received and the shortage of oxygen in the dance floor but I think I was simply having too much of a blast to remember such menial details as someone climbing on my back. The aforementioned KERMIT 2015 A.M.Nesia278circumstances however might account for some of the blurriness that somehow found its way into several of my pics as I might have been experimenting with some new camera settings at this fete and might not have been in a suitable condition to be manipulating the slight tweaks necessary to adjust to these new settings. The crowds rapid dance movements interspersed with random jumping, waving, and pointing also did its part to add blur but, all told, I think the pictures I took very accurately depicted the scene on board the Cherry Blossom that day.

Eventually we returned to the dock and disembarked to the curious looks from the folks strolling the promenade and I can easily imagine their surprise as a few hundred sweaty but exhilarated looking people emerged from the ship and took over the dock because of course we just couldn’t simply come off the people boat and then go home. Oh HELL no peeps, despite the fact that there was a free after-party lined up in downtown DC right after this boatride, we have to lime. As usual, A.M.Nesia was a fantastic cruise and once again it proved itself to be the premier boatride in the DMV and I look forward to sailing again in 2016.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

 

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

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2015 DC Carnival Experience – Hookie

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Greetings Peeps, Kermit here continuing with the 2015 DC Carnival Experience and today I find myself making my way to the Capitol Skyline Hotel for Hookie, a daytime pool party which has been going on for the past 5 years and from what I have heard, is a fete not to be missed.  Since it takes place in the middle of the day and as its name implies, Hookie encourages folks to “duck” and run away from work and as I approached the venue I could see that many people had done just that.   There was a large crowd at the gate but it was quickly determined that the short line was for printed online tickets and, inexplicably, the long line was for folks with the hard tickets and since we had the printed kind it took 10 minutes to pass through security and we were in!

KERMIT2015 Hookie262Simply put, the venue was the hotel pool.  There was a stage at one end next to which was a bar.  Around the pool there were several more bars and a special bottle service only bar. There was also a massage area inside one of the rooms just off the pool but I will talk more about that a little bit later.  The crowd was very thick when I arrived so I wasted no time and  immediately headed to secure some drinks and there I ran into one of my biggest gripes for the evening, the speed of service at the bar.

There were 4 bars available for patrons use and all were full service but they desperately needed more bartenders at these bars.  Two of the bars had 2 bartenders serving and the other two had 1 each so my average wait to buy drinks was 20-25 minutes.  To their credit, the bartenders worked steadily and quickly but the volume of patrons was simply too much for them to adequately handle.  Determined to make lemonade out of lemons, once I got to the front I purchased drinks in threes (beers to be exact) and while consuming one, I stored the other two in the pockets of my cargo pants.  This alleviated some of the annoyance caused by the long wait time at the bars since on average I only needed to return once an hour to replenish my stocks but this should not have been necessary.  Anyhow, alcohol sorted, I decided to start taking pics and peeps I had a flashback to when I first started taking pics in fetes more than 10 years ago and before I knew it I found myself back in full stalkerrazzi mode.  I will explain what triggered the recurrence and after explaining I am sure that you can’t give me wrong for regressing!

This fete is held poolside at the Capitol Skyline Hotel and the majority of the folks present came dressed for the pool which is to say KERMIT2015 Hookie112that bikinis and assorted swimwear was the gear of choice.  There was PLENTY to see and PLENTY more to gape at some of which was great and some not so great.  While not everyone present today possessed a nicely toned and sculpted body that would perfectly complement a tiny bikini or swim trunk, apparently confidence goes a long way and clearly everyone present today had NUFF confidence because whether they had the body for it or not, they came to bare as they dared and let me tell you, they dared greatly!  Everywhere I looked there were cheeks to the left and cheeks to the right and my paparazzi reflexes took over.  Now back in the day when Kermit was but a lil tadpole in the phototakeouting game I used to be accused of taking mostly, ahem, shall we say derriere shots in fetes and while I will admit that a fair number of my pics did celebrate that aspect of the female anatomy it was by no means the only pictures I would take or would have wanted to take.  The problem was that when I started off my picture taking escapades, my camera at the time (a pocket sized Casio Exilim) had a very limited range especially with the built in flash so I was constrained to only capturing what was immediately around me and most times that was ass.  What else could I do except to pick the low hanging fruit?  As the years passed, I upgraded to a more powerful DSLR with an external flash and my horizons were greatly expanded and, as a result, so were my photographic offerings as I was now able to capture more of what caught my eye.  Ass was still KERMIT2015 Hookie148there of course but so was a lot more of the setting that surrounded that ass.  I could better document everything near and far and in bright light as well as dim and I took full advantage of my improved tools to try to bring back to you more of what I actually saw, which brings me back to today!  Ass was everywhere and now that I am shooting with a Nikon D7100 with a fast Sigma lens, I can pretty much capture anything anywhere anytime.  My instincts took over and before I knew what was happening I was a jaguar in the forest and I was picking off gazelle ass left, right, and center!  Again, that does not mean to say I ignored all else that was happening around the pool but when you look at these pics, you will definitely notice a return to the Kermit of old and I must say the Green definitely enjoyed bringing you this album!

The fete was PACKED with swimsuited bodies jamming to soca, reggae, hip hop, and all types of music under the sun and whether they were on the stage, around the pool, or in the pool, everybody was having a ball!  There was barely space to walk but that just caused folks to dance all the more.  During the course of the fete random folks made their way up onto the stage to demonstrate their dancing prowess and whenever I happened to be stage side I did my best to capture it while such demonstrations were taking place.  Some folks had arranged themselves around the beach KERMIT2015 Hookie188chairs and had formed mini communities while others were content to mill around and tief wine whenever possible.  Still others decided that the best spot was actually IN the pool so they took to the water and amid the myriad floating toys available for their amusement they enjoyed themselves by carousing with the other partiers in the pool or simply soaking in the cool water.  For those partiers who found themselves stressed out because of this overabundance of stimuli, relief was at hand in the form of the available massage station.

KERMIT2015 Hookie174The lovely masseuses took great care of their patrons by thoroughly working over sore muscles with liberal applications of massage oil and elbow grease!  There was always a line waiting on the ladies services and I am sure that fact that the ladies doing the massaging were hot and wearing bikinis had little to do with their popularity.  Initially they were inside a room just adjacent to the pool but before long they moved their chairs outside and plied their trade in the midst of the bacchanal.  Of course I tried my best to get good shots of these ladies hard at work but with the crowd as thick as it was it was very difficult to get clear shots hence the number of pics I was forced to take.  The things I do for my craft eh peeps, but it is a labor of love.  😉

The rest of the afternoon passed as happily as it began as for the next few hours I roamed the fete meeting up with old friends and making some new ones.  I gaped at the scenes and marveled at the wining skills being displayed despite a large portion of the crowd present not being of Caribbean descent.  I was especially delighted to see the many different ethnicities and nationalities coming together to celebrate and jam up and have fun with each other without any discord; it was just one love all day long! Despite the too-large crowds and the bar issues, Hookie was most definitely a fun event and I am glad I decided to check it out.KERMIT2015 Hookie369

Enjoy the pics peeps, the A.M.Nesia Boat Cruise is next.

Kermit out.

 

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

 

2015 DC Carnival Experience – Islands in the Sun LIVE

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Greetings peeps, Kermit here coming to you from the kickoff fete for the 2015 DC Carnival Experience weekend, Islands in the Sun LIVE.  This year Islands in the Sun is celebrating its 20th year and for its birthday, management decided to shake things up and move things around and it is with great anticipation that I find myself driving down a dirt road WAYYYYYY out in the suburbs heading to this year’s “new” venue.  I say “new” venue because when the GPS told me to turn off the main road and into this dirt track, I had a flash of déjà vu and I realized that I had been here before and it was to an Islands in the Sun as well!

Islands in the Sun began as a backyard lime at a house on Lime Tree Way 20 years ago where everybody simply brought a bottle for the bar, a couple grills were fired up, and we jammed to the music provided by Sprang International until we had our fill.  As with all good things, word spread and within a few years the backyard could no longer contain the numbers present so the field behind the house was utilized and while the base was still the same, now the majority of the feteing took place outside but it was still a fairly manageable big lime however  that ceased to be the case when one year buses from New York pulled up and started letting people off.  Management then realized that this venue was no longer tenable as a site and that first year when Islands wasn’t held on Lime Tree Way, I remember KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live3driving WAYYYYYY out in the suburbs and down a dirt road to get to the venue and by George here I was again!  As a venue for this event, this one in Boyds, MD is fantastic.  Parking is ample and discreet (1/4 mile off the main road), there are no neighbors to disturb with our loud revelry and the site itself is large enough to provide sufficient space for wildness yet small enough to maintain an intimate feel.  Aside from the distance to get here, the one HUGE drawback which I discovered that afternoon while in a casual conversation with some friends was that apparently the movie The Blair Witch Project was based on events which took place not far from where we were!

BWDMC!

Luckily I discovered this bit of news early in the afternoon while the sun was still shining so I immediately scouted around to locate the toilets.  Some of you are now wondering, “Toilets?  What this man talking about?”  Yes peeps, toilets!  All island folks know that in fetes such as this where alcohol flows without limit, eventually nature will call and while the ladies are usually constrained to using the porta-potties provided for the event, the men however, because of our ahem more versatile plumbing, have no such constraints.  Thus we make use of all secluded spots to relieve the pressure and since we are literally surrounded by woods, we would ordinarily feel free to simply wander a little way into the trees and fertilize a patch of ground wherever we wanted.  But now with this Blair Witch business going on in de people and dem forest, I wasn’t about to risk peeing in the woods at all at all at all because if the Blair Witch could be in there, she might hear the music and call a few of her island girls over and the next thing you know is all kinds of La Diablesse and Soucouyant just waiting for some big strong photographer to come close and make himself vulnerable!  HELL TO THE NAW!  I found the cluster of toilets and was relieved to see that they were well lighted and were fairly close to the main building!  PHEW!  Disaster averted, I relaxed and decided to start my drinking so I hit up the first bar I found and it was the last bar I hit up for the night because KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live18it was the Zurena bar.

What is a Zurena bar you ask?  Zurena is a wonderful elixir that was created by one of my peeps here in the DMV and is now being bottled and introduced to the general public in a big way.  Zurena has been around for a few years but this was the first time it has its own pavilion in a fete and I sized up the specialty cocktails which were available.  Since I am primarily a Vodka drinker, the drink I chose was called Vodka Horn (insert your own Trini joke here) and it was FANTASTIC!  I believe it was Effen berry flavored vodka, Zurena as chaser (which was madness), and some freshly chopped fruits.  Here nah peeps, it was delicious and the more I drank, the more I wanted to drink.  It reminded me of a FLEXXX and pineapple soda combo in that it tasted very good but you knew that if you took it lightly it would eventually cuff you in the back of your head!  Once I tasted its fruity goodness I was hooked and this was my drink for the night so I filled my trusty drinks bottle, clipped it to my waist, and made my rounds to see what was going on around the fete.

KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live171After passing through security which was at the top of a little hill, you walked down the hill to the main fete area.  The DJs and sound equipment were on a stage at the far end of the clearing, the Zurena bar was the first one on your right then a little further down was the Premium Bar.  On your left across the clearing was the Gold Bar (non-alcoholic and later on corn soup) and the DC Carnival Experience tent.  On the side of the clearing directly across from the stage was the Gold Courvoisier bar with the ice block shots, two large tents for shelter and the adjacent to those was the food area.  In the past, Islands in the Sun was an all-inclusive fete but this year the food was replaced with LIVE entertainment so while the vendors today had lots of delicious food available, it was available for purchase only.  Crown Bakery was present as of course was 2 Island Bwoyz and it wasn’t long before the delicious aromas wafting from the food area caused long lines to form.  The free corn soup showed up later in the afternoon and was very good and I can make that statement with 100% certainty because I thoroughly taste tested the soup many times throughout the night just to be sure I got a good enough sample to make an informed judgment about its quality.  The DJs were playing good music, the alcohol was flowing, the people were arriving and it looked like it was shaping up to be a real nice fete and then you looked up into the sky.

KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live173All day there were area wide warnings about heavy rain and possible thundershowers but initially the weather looked great.  It was hot and sunny now but we knew that while the weather forecast could sometimes be hit or miss, the frequency and urgency of the forecasters’ warnings really made it seem that they were certain that something was going to hit during the fete hence the abundance of tents present this afternoon.  I mentioned the two large tents butted right up to the garage attached to the main building.  The stage and DJ were covered by TWO tents, one actually on the stage itself for just the DJ and equipment and the second covering the entire stage and lighting including the DJ tent.  Clearly wild weather was expected and before long we got a taste of what was to be the pattern for the evening.

The first wave hit as mostly rain with some wind and since almost everyone present had at some time partied in the rain, it was met with a mild interest.  Folks simply gathered up their chairs and scampered to shelter under the tents to wait it out.  It was late afternoon so it was still fairly bright and the rain was warm and fairly steady so the DJs kept playing and we partied under the tents until the showers passed and we emerged slightly damp but ready to wine off the water.  No scenes.  The first wave lasted around 10-15 minutes.

The second wave came maybe 30 minutes later and perhaps because it sensed the nonchalant way we shrugged off the first wave, this batch of rain arrived with more of an attitude.  This was a more serious rain/storm and while the volume of rain increased markedly it was the wind that really made this wave more impressive.  I took shelter in the tents attached to the garage and gave thanks that I had upgraded my camera body to a weatherproof model otherwise this commentary would be the only record of the night’s escapades.  KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live197Sadly my flash suffered some water related impairment but I pressed on as best I could.  This rain fell with much more vengeance but still we weren’t particularly impressed by its ferocity.  Some of the patrons mumbled about Hurricane Gilbert as they drank their drinks and I knew that while we were definitely in a storm now, it would take even more than this to impress this crowd.  During this second wave patrons, having already broken out their parkas and raincoats for the first wave, decided that to ass with this, they were wet already and they would embrace the horror so they went out IN the rain and started dancing and wining and running from tent to bar and back and generally making lemonade out of lemons but little did we know that the real horror was still on the way.  This piece of storm was too much of a risk for the sound system so for the majority of this wave the sound was turned off.  The second wave lasted for around 15-20 minutes and what came next, came out of almost nowhere.

By this time we had pretty much settled down into a sort of routine for the evening:  wave of rain, run and hide, then come out and resume fete.  The timing of the intervals were pretty regular so we knew that after around 15 minutes of rain we usually had around 30-45 minutes of clear skies.  During this time, patrons used the respite to either grab some food, grab a drink, or grab some waist all the while keeping an eye out for the first few drops of rain that usually heralded the arrival of another wave.  Once you felt the first drops you usually had a few minutes to get to shelter before the water came down in earnest but this time, the storm snuck up on us and it came with a fury that surprised even the seasoned feters.  By now, the sun was on its way down and maybe that made the lightning more noticeable but it sure seemed to get here MUCH quicker than the earlier waves.  I looked up, saw lightning, and immediately decided to top off my Vodka Horn beverage and by the time that was done, the sky had turned dark and I barely had time to cover theKERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live438 50 feet or so to the tent before the skies opened up and the tornado was upon us!  Apparently tornado watches were issued for the DMV and the county we were in and while the storm didn’t produce one over or even near us, it sure felt like we were in the middle of a twister.  The rain fell like it was monsoon season and while it was falling the wind blew it horizontally so while the tents did provide cover above you, the sideways rain still got to you.  The wind was so vigorous that it almost took apart my poor Zurena bar.  The brave bartender and the patrons sheltering in place fought to keep the stocks intact and I tried to document their struggles as best I could.  The Courvoisier tent next to where I was sheltering fared much better and the lovely ladies in that tent decided to pop some bottles and they had a grand old time as the storm swirled all around us.  The same could not be said for the poor DJ and sound equipment.

The sound had been switched off almost immediately as the storm hit especially with all of the lightning activity taking place but despite the double tent in use on the stage the safety of the equipment there was very much in doubt.  Maybe because the tents were so high off the ground they were starting to act as sails and despite being firmly anchored into the ground things were looking a bit dicey.  After the fete I found out through a reliable source that if not for the herculean efforts of one individual in particular, all would have been lost and the tent and everything in it would surely have been blown away!  That individual was none other that Sprang International himself!!!!

Peeps, I have it on good authority that Mr. Solozano, upon realizing what the wind was trying to do, leapt into action and with one hand grasping the tent and the other around the tarp protecting his equipment (especially his laptop) he threw his full weight into securing both and declared with a steely eye and a thunderous voice “YOU SHALL NOT LIFT TONIGHT!  I always thought that the line KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live337“Soca does give mih mih powers” was merely a metaphor but from what I heard about what went down on that stage on that fateful night, it is not peeps, it is a truth!  Sprang, while massive in the DJ world, cannot exactly be described as a physically imposing man yet while the tempest thundered and raged all around him he set mind to purpose and imposed his will on the elements and thus saved the fete from a night without music.  Something gave him the strength and the fortitude to triumph (likely the other people on stage contributed as well) and while I am amazed that both he AND the tent weren’t whisked away, I can’t say that I am totally surprised because if you know Sprang at all, you know that outside of his family, music is his life and while he has breath in his body he will go to any lengths necessary to see that both remain safe.  The storm did pass and the fete resumed without too much ado and as the revelry resumed, management came on stage and made an announcement that did as much to warm our hearts as the rain did to wet it;  it was announced that Sprang was to be given an award of excellence.KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live493

To say that this award is a well deserved accolade is a huge understatement.  Sprang has been an integral part of the DC Caribbean Cultural scene since I arrived here in 1988 and he has been a constant positive influence by enhancing and expanding our presence in this and every city he visits.  Music is a universal language and Sprang uses his skill in this medium to take the Caribbean message of love, togetherness, and unity to everyone he can get to listen and even though the listener may not fully understand the words that are being spoken, the message still comes across loud and clear.  The motto emblazoned across Sprang’s laptop says “All We Need Is Music” and truer words have never been spoken so when he was presented with his DC Grammy he accepted it with a grace and self-depreciating humility that belies his influence and reach.  We would not be the same Caribbean Community without you Sprang and we are all  eternally grateful for everything you have done for us.

What could possibly follow such an emotionally charged moment?  Why the LIVE portion of the night of course!  Without any delay the fete went LIVE with a vengeance and the performers who survived the night’s monsoon tornado came on stage in quick succession and MASHED UP THE FETE!  The crowd dried their teary eyes and unleashed their pent up wildness at the behest of the artistes.  Whatever the performer said, the crowd did.  They called for bumpers like rain, and if you see the madness on stage.  (You CAN see the madness, just check out my pics!)  The performers announced that they had no apologies for their behavior and said to take jam, TAKE KERMIT 2015 Islands in The Sun Live547JAM and peeps, when they said that I started looking around for a bag of Crix!  IF YOU SEE JAM!  I must admit that there was some jelly too but is all good we loved it up same way and thus the night wound on in an excess of winery and muddy acrobatics that would put Cirque du Soleil to shame!

Sadly the time for leaving had arrived and as I had my last cup of corn soup or two for the road I reflected on the indomitable will of the Caribbean feter.  We survived a near miss tornado, at times we practically had to swim to the bars to get drinks, and we dodged lightning by being out in a field in the middle of a strong thunderstorm but once the drinks are flowing, the corn soup is tasty, the music is on point, and once we have each other, all is well in the world.  Every day I wake and I thank God that I can call a Caribbean island my home.

Islands in the Rain was a BLAST despite the spooky woods and the torrential rains and I cannot wait to see what could possibly top this 20th anniversary edition.  You have one year management, do your best.  I will be there to document it all.

Enjoy the pics peeps, Hookie is next.

Kermit out.

 

One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

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