The highly anticipated & long-awaited Miami Carnival was last weekend. After being stuck indoors for over a year many patrons were excited to get back pon Di Road.
Participants were excited to play Mas this year & let out all of that pent up energy. For those who don’t know, Mas is short for masquerade in the Caribbean Carnival.
Cultures from all over the world celebrate Carnival or Carnaval, celebrating life & emancipation from slavery by dressing up in gorgeous costumes & dancing in the streets.
Masqueraders participate in a parade on Carnival Sunday (usually the 2nd Sunday in October). Dressed in glitter and glam. The day prior to that is a Jouvert Mas Paint Party, celebrating life in color and getting down and dirty with your fellow fete mates.
General admission tickets can be purchased in advance or on the day of. However, to be a masquerader in the Parade you had to have purchased your ticket and costume in advance.
With this year’s new CDC regulations, the key phrase was “No Mask, No MAS”. Those who wanted to participate had to get tested for Covid and cleared before being permitted into the Miami Fairgrounds. Once inside the venue, everyone is expected to keep their masks on (most people don’t and it isn’t enforced past the gate).
As a masquerader, you must pick up your costume in advance at the designated locations given a few days before the events.
Every band does costume pick up differently but one common trend amongst all bands this year was miscommunication and disorganization.
As mentioned in this TikTok, there were technological errors with the system, ridiculously long wait times & bad customer service from multiple bands.
After speaking to some attendees I found out that the average wait time for costume pick up was between 2-8 hours.
“No one told us anything and that turned a 45-minute process into 2 hours. I am just happy I didn’t have to wait as long as other bands did” stated T. Wiggan of One Island Band
F.F. of Gen X Band said “We arrived at 5 pm and did not receive our costumes until 1 in the morning. There were no refreshments nor apologies. We even saw some workers arguing with customers and laughing in their faces”.
The long wait for a costume is no problem when you’re getting exactly what you pay for. However, many reported missing items from their costume packaging & even a few completely different pieces used as substitutions.
Stephanie Hinds of Euphoria Mas stated “ My entire frontline backpack and headpiece were missing from my costume package”. In the picture below that has been turned into a meme, you can clearly see Ms. Hinds did not receive what she paid for.
Ms. Hinds went on to say that out of the 8 masqueraders she went with, 3 of the men were also missing belt pieces. Mind you, the belt pieces for men is most of the costume.
The quality of the costumes for 2021 seemed to be a rushed job, despite the fact that the costumes were paid at least a month in advance.
GenX released about 2-3 costumes daily to alleviate the stress of pickup. They advertised pictures on Instagram of all the costumes being ready for pickup.
Gen X masquerader F.F. stated “they were literally gluing everything together on site! Which was really strange because the other costumes were laid out and ready to go on the previous days. When I received my backpack it had hot glue string all over it. We were also supposed to get monokini’s but they told us at the last minute that the shipment was confiscated at customs a week prior & we didn’t even receive paint to throw for Jouvert”.
There were inconsistencies in the costume designs across several bands. Spending hundreds of dollars on a costume & heavy advertisement on Instagram have customers believing their getting the best of the best.
Margaret of One Island Mas band stated
“I received everything I ordered but my bottoms were not what we paid for. We paid for a high cut bottom but what we received was very identical to the back line basic panty. This was the part of the costume I loved, so it was disappointing not having that look. Overall the costume was beautiful but just not what I paid for”.
Some peoples costumes were perfectly constructed and lasted all day long (as they should). While a few (like myself) didn’t even make it from the parking lot to the entrance without losing a few gem pieces.
Quick Pro Tip: bring crazy glue with you to carnival. There were gems scattered on the floor before masqueraders even touched the road. Please note, a quality costume will not have you carrying crazy glue in your bag.
One thing about playing Mas is, you expect to be kept hydrated, fed & a little tipsy on the road. Many (including myself) had a great experience with breakfast and lunch on both days. Drinks flowing well from morning til night & the bartenders catering to our every need.
Some however, weren’t as lucky.
“We were told to be there at 8 for breakfast to be served from 8-10 but they didn’t serve food or drinks until after 10” Katrina Lewis of Savage Mas stated.
Some people didn’t receive food at all and wanted refunds for the trucks not having as much food as tickets sold. Other drink trucks stopped serving drinks around 5 or 6 pm though the event lasted until 11 pm.
The overall quality of the food and drinks were both good when they were in stock & there were no complaints about that. Let it be known that Gen X had the drinks flowing from mawnin til night. We were lit and well taken care of!
When masqueraders were asked what their favorite part of their Mas experience was many said the over all experience. Regardless of any setbacks we all go to carnival to have fun.
“My favorite part was seeing all my friends and family just come together and experience the culture as one!” said an unnamed masquerader.
When asked their least favorite part of their experience it varied by band. Those who played with One Island said “I didn’t like that we were second to last, we crossed the stage at 10:30 pm and one island band is so big they could have their own carnival”.
Another masquerader from One Island stated “what I hated most was being squished together on the fences whenever the path got more narrow & getting slapped/scratched in the face by feather backpacks”.
Margaret from One Island said “there was no music played until 1 pm on Jouvert Saturday & no paint. We were standing around our truck without any apologies and zero communication. I left Jouvert clean” .
That last part of the statement shook me because no one should ever leave Jouvert clean! The first rule of Jouvert is we’re here to get dirty.
The parade was supposed to start at noon however, the bands did not start moving until after 2 pm. Thus not allowing everyone to enjoy the full experience of the mixing of masqueraders and the general admission crowd.
When asked if they would play Mas again, all attendees interviewed (myself included) said yes! However, most are now reconsidering the band they will play with next time around.
Some people mentioned considering disputing the charges on their credit cards because they were simply not given what they were sold.
Ms. Hinds stated “If they give us our money back I would be willing to try them again. Bands aren’t always gonna get it right, this we know and sometimes you have to have a year like this to get it right but we deserve our money back”.
Every single attendee (including myself) said they had fun and the experience was worth the stress. The main issue is the costumes are highly-priced and not made to last so they do not seem worth it. The customer service needs improvement and there should be more resources on site for masqueraders.
Many are saying this year was a terrible year in quality and customer service. My friends and I, (like many) made the most of our experience and ensured we had fun and got our moneys worth.
To all bands, we hope to see more out of you next year as we will be playing Mas again & want to have the experience be a seamless & carefree.
Thank you @miabrocarnival & @genxcarnival.
Until next time…
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