If you weren’t in Saint Lucia this year for carnival, I feel bad for you.
If you are not aware, Saint Lucia’s carnival occurs every third Monday and Tuesday of July. It is one of the summer Caribbean carnivals that should be on your radar. It has exploded in popularity in the last few years but still maintains the unique Lucian culture and feel.
Saint Lucia Carnival ended nearly two weeks ago and I am still nursing injuries and sprains sustained on the road. It was crazyinsaneexhilaring! My six days in St Lucia were a whirlwind and I just want to turn back the clock to a better time. This time two weeks ago, I had just picked up my costume! The trip that was not supposed to happen became one of my most memorable carnival experiences. I will be back.
Band Launch: I did not know much about what to expect regarding Xuvo Carnival. All I knew was that it was a new band with the well known St. Lucian Verve promoters at its helm. I was prepared to play with another band, but was super intrigued by their band launch trailer. Their presentation, “Her Majesty” looked good, and was supported by a cast of well-known designers. After debating between a few of the sections, I decided to play in the Majesty Ultra Frontline section. It’s my birthday, hello!
Registration: There was an overload on the website which caused it to crash, therefore registration was delayed by a few hours. However, I was able to contact my section leader to make sure she was aware I wanted to register - Majesty Frontline was 75% sold out within an hour of registration opening up. I was not going to miss out! After the wahala of that, the actual sign up portion was easy - input size, bra type, panty type, meal preference and any add-ons and paid the deposit of $360.
Communication: Communication from Xuvo was excellent. All questions I had were answered quickly via social media (primarily Instagram). They answered questions I had regarding my costume, the expected amenities on the road, and even opened up a closed section for TWO of my friends. It took slightly longer to hear back via e-mail (maybe 48 hour period) but all urgent questions I had were taken to their Instagram DMs.
Costume Pickup: Picking up my costume was very simple. I had already paid it off online so I did not have to wait - besides, the machine was not working. My name was taken down and once full payment was confirmed, I was directed to another floor to get my costume and backpack. I had all my items within 15 minutes. Unfortunately, the same could not be said for one of my friends who was asked to return to the mas camp. In the end, she actually only received her costume the day before mas (Sunday evening). That was frustrating for her and all of us.
Costume: My costume was gorgeous. I thought it fitting to wear white since an angel turned a year older 😇 The material was soft and the beads and gems were sturdy on the bodywear. Not a pearl or rhinestone budged at all. I was glad I got the large backpack - it was well made and did not have any exposed cardboard. It trailed to the ground and was lusciously full - very heavenly and…*cough*…majestic.
Expectation vs Reality
THE ROAD EXPERIENCE
TO RATE MY ROAD EXPERIENCE: 8/10
I had a great time on the road - Day 2 was way better than Day 1. It was not only because I was freer with my Tuesday wear; it was just more seamless and it was all about the madness.
Let me sum it up:
Endless drinks. If you had a particular drink of choice, like Hennessy, it may have run out by nightfall. For me, as long as it was Chairman’s, Johnnie or Henny, I was good and it was in heavy supply. After I got over the shock of there being only 1 drink trunk and it towering over me, I found a bartender I vibed with and he was my drinks man for the 2 days. He was heavy handed with his pours. Champagne was my go-to drink on Day 2 and I didn’t even have to ask him. Wish I got his name. There were rum/champagne runners on the road - I did not see them on Monday but they were definitely way more visible on Tuesday. I appreciated that because it was a bit tiresome going back and forth to the drink truck for more.
There is no lunch spot. I fully walked in on Monday not knowing this and by 4pm, I was annoyed and HANGRY. I was ready to cuss anybody out regarding “when are we stopping for food?!?!?!” In St. Lucia, they have a food truck(s) where there are cooks and servers preparing food and passing out meals - you hand in a chit and they give you a meal. We had 3 chits on Monday, 2 on Tuesday.
Not only were all the trucks too high to reach for us short girls, but the servers were overwhelmed, did not have the meals ready and were playing favorites. It took entirely too long to get a meal and it felt like the true HUNGER games. I ended up having two meals - pork in the late afternoon (omg, tasted amazing) and chicken and fries in the evening. On Tuesday, I had three meals: red bean soup, pork and fries and a hot dog. All within 6 hours. I definitely was well-fed.
Lesson: as soon as you touch road, head straight to the food truck before it fills up. Plus, you will have more meal options.
Dennery segment reigns supreme. If you don’t like it, why you here? I don’t know what it is about the rhythms and bass of Lucian music but I swear it is hypnotic. Someone do a study. This is by far one of the reasons this carnival is special. Yes, you will hear Machel and ting, but nothing beats the turn up of energy when that Lucian soca comes on. Honestly, they could have played more of it but I understand they were trying to be diverse. My knees and waist appreciated the break. Special shout out goes to the shot of Vincy that made the crowd go crazy each time. Big up, Problem Child. “Nasty Up” was indeed problems on the road.
Stormers (kinda) allowed. One of the things I noticed - and I don’t know if I can blame Xuvo security, or if it is just part of Lucian carnival tradition - is that security is not as strict and rigid when compared to other carnivals I have been to. It wasn’t just Xuvo. I noticed that at some point, even in peak daylight, stormers traipsed in and out of the band with little repercussion. It wasn’t really bothersome to me in the daylight, it was just different. When it got dark, more stormers came out to play, and it was even more visible on Tuesday when it was a little harder to decipher who was a paying masquerader. The DJs and hype men periodically asked non masqueraders to exit but it wasn’t really enforced. I enjoy the spirit of carnival and camaraderie and togetherness that masqueraders have with spectators, but at the same time, I still feel like security needs to beef up a bit more.
You will cross a stage. Crossing a stage is exciting! They drum up the excitement and you run and dance across a stage, showing off your costume and pride in being able to partake in this journey. This, unfortunately was not my experience. It was weak and disappointing. Ironic that we were in a premium section (Majesty) and had the worst stage crossing to a slow song. Can you believe that mess? It was unplanned and disorganized and honestly, inconsiderate. I hope it is improved upon next year.
Carnival days end PROMPTLY. At 7pm…or if you were lucky, 7:30pm…the music was shut down in the trucks. Welppppp. I was living it up on Monday and then they turned off the music and I was super confused. Like, we are really walking this next mile in silence? But it was kind of cute too - it allowed you to engage in a different way with fellow masqueraders, we sang our way to the end of the route and I was able to find my friends without the distractions of people dancing.
Saint Lucia Carnival beat me up! I left with scars, a knot on my ass, a neck injury and a bruised rib. Don’t ask me how - I DO NOT KNOW. Others had sprained ankles, sprained hips. Maybe we’re all just old LOL.
I finally out together a short vlog of the highlights. PURE SLACK 🙌🏾
Did you play with Xuvo Carnival? How was your experience in Saint Lucia this year?
Tell me below! I’d love to hear from you.
Until the next carnival,