Three weeks home... nuff Maracas, real roti, fete, Buccoo Reef and most of all plenty hot sun! A well deserved break but now play time was over and on the drive up to Piarco to board a British Airways back to Holland, ah was praying for sun. For those of you who don't know, Holland is famous for a couple things: cheese, windmills, coffee shops (where people never go for coffee), the Red Light Districts (where ah never go... hehe), and cold or wet weather most of the year!
Rotterdam Carnival has always been nice, a very Brazilian style structure, groups work on choreography, a huge massive from the Netherlands Antillies but a sweet Caribbean vibe all the same. This year my Jam Masters crew linked up with PoisonUK and the TriniConnection posse with the "Fireman Band," led by Joyce Warner a leading figure promoting TnT culture in Holland. The plan was to blaze Soca on the streets and show Rotterdam how we Trini's get down.
It was Friday and I just land in Gatwick tired and hungry like a mother cause if there's one thing you never do is eat curry from the airline! A quick call to Holland before boarding to Amsterdam and its bad news. It raining over there and the forecast for the next day (Rotterdam Carnival) not looking good. I reach home and first thing I do is dive on the bed, knock out cold! Saturday morning and pressure to get up. Then I jump up, remember Soca music, costumes, havin' a time, TODAY IS THE DAY TO PAINT THE TOWN RED! Adrenaline kicked in, armed with my Soca cd's for spinning on the truck, the camera to capture those anticipated Kodak moments and my Trini Jungle Juice media pass, AH WAS READY FOR CARNIVAL!
Staying true to my Trini roots, I was late getting into Rotterdam and had to play catch up with the truck. No scene, and as a matter of fact it gave me a nice opportunity to really feel the vibe from the spectator level. First off, the sun was shining and the weather was perfect. Amazing Ting! Later people joked that I must have brought some sun from Trinidad back with me. Surely seemed so! People were smiling, drinking, dancing. Black, White Chinese, you name it, the streets were lined with people like dirt.
I passed through a Surinam crew, took a small wine, a lil' drink and then chipped a lil' further to a type of samba/bottle and spoon/blazer-ish tune (nice too bad). A lil further, more people, colourful costumes, some wicked creations and then others looked like if I made them. Music pumping from passing trailors and bars open for business, plenty gorgeous women dressed for the occasion in every direction and me stopping for a chook here and a chook dey.... getting a lil' more frequent. The vibes nice and it not long before I hear the first Trini-Soca tune of the day; "Carnival" by Destra and Machel. Immediately I make a spin move headin' to that direction cause ah realize that things looking rowdy in that general area. Must be a Trini crew or a squad from one of the other Islands. But these were no Trini's... no sir! Instead some Italians with painted faces, wearing green and white costumes throwing beer, water and hands up in the air in ah frenzy! A quick grab for the camera, salt! Battery dead!! So I took their beer and 2 lil' chook on a slim, dark haired cutie to pacify my disappointment (oh gosh gimme ah ease up nah... ah did jus land..... was tired and forget to recharge the battery). Luckily two other partners were also somewhere in the Carnival with cameras, so we safe!
By this time, the energy was insane and the streets were ram-packed. Getting through the crowd was proving futile. I must admit I was enjoying it though but was still eager to meet up with the Trini crew cause I was ready to expose! A stroke of genius, I pulled out my TJJ media pass, board a security man on a lil' scooter with a sad story and "yes" off to find the Fireman Band! Time I link up with the band they were already more than an hour on the road and from the welcome I got, it was evident that the Carnival jumbie was ever present! Alcohol was flowing, bake and buljohl (da's how yuh spell dat?) passing so, fried chicken on that side, sexy women jumping up in fire red/yellow/orange costumes to Slaughter, singing loud "We are Trinidadians, and we're Tobagonians...... ("Spread The Love")" niceness for so, and I felt for THE 1ST TIME IN 6 YEARS since living in Holland that Trinidad wasn't all that far away!
DJ Smokey Joe was hotting up the place and the Poison UK crew injected there energy and it was rukshun from then on end! The further the band went along the route, the higher the energy levels rose and the more onlookers tried to jump in the band.... crazy ting! It was like a Carnival Monday in Trinidad. Just party and have a good time, no worries about winning band of the year, pure niceness! By the time we reach up to the the judging area, it was unbelievable how much spectators lined the streets and actually mind-blowing to see how the band's size was now stupendously huge! I graced the pioneer's with a scorching Soca set while the original Dr. Jay (not the one from T.O.) grabbed the mic and hyped the crowd up that much more. It is undoubtedly safe to say that the Fireman Band was the life of Rotterdam Carnival. People already asking about next year! :-)
All in all, ROTTERDAM CARNIVAL 2007 WAS A MAJOR SUCCESS. The weather was great, there were almost 1 million spectators in the city, the vibe was true to the Carnival spirit, all the bands that took part brought something special to the parade and the level of costumes were of a much higher standard in comparison to years gone by. For us as Trini's, it was a huge accomplishment to make a deeper imprint on the Rotterdam Carnival, raising awareness of our culture and the way we celebrate carnival, the way it should be celebrated!
Next up.... Notting Hill 2007 but first we stopping at Reggae Sundance, the biggest Reggae/Dancehall festival in Holland (www.reggaesundance.nl) because there's NO WAY we missin the FIRST LIVE PERFORMANCE FROM JAH CURE!!! We also swinging over to Stockholm and to cover MACHEL MONTANO HD at "Tune In 2007"! We go holla with the scoop!