After a couple of days showing me around the island, Nnamdi and CJ were still hanging tough, and my next mission was to get them and me to my very first band launch. Simply describing, a ‘band launch’ is the very beginning stages of pre-Carnival events and also another reason to party. (Trinis love to party.) Designers showcase their latest and greatest costumes for the upcoming year's celebration, and people sign up to join a band. The costumes may also be for purchase the night of the launch or a couple days following.
Having done my research well in advance, I mapped out what appeared to be a very exquisite launch to checkout. Islandevents.com, a pretty good website for fetes and concert information around the island, was presenting this particular band launch at the Trinidad & Tobago Country Club. The night was titled "Moulin Rouge," and the show would be a tribute to Josephine Baker. I was elated! Not only would I be experiencing a band launch, I would have the opportunity to see costumes designed in celebration of the first black diva and one of my favorite historical performers of all time.
Preparing for the evening was no easy task, but I figured I was on an island, and the attire should be fairly casual, maybe a tad dressy. I took out what I felt was most appropriate, placed my flip-flops with sequins on, and waited for my ride to show. When CJ arrived, he informed me that the flip-flops could be a problem, as this was the TnT Country Club, and seeing that I hadn’t packed any heels, we’d just have to see if they’d work.
When we arrived, he dropped me off at the front and waited to see if I would make it in with my selected footwear. As a woman, I wasn’t too concerned about this, but I also wished I had packed some heels. He had to take off and freshen up but promised he would return with Nnamdi to enjoy the rest of the evening. This gave me the opportunity to meet new Trinis or people-watch at the least.
Upon entering the country club, I knew I had underestimated the kind of event I was attending. The atmosphere had been transformed into a luxurious Parisian island event. Soft French music mixed between light Soca sets by the DJ drifted throughout the building. Models posed still as statues, batting only an eye to wink at a photographer stealing a shot. Every beautiful man and woman residing in the country had to have been there that night. Everywhere I turned, I encountered another strikingly gorgeous face, unique with added island exoticness.
Another thing to note about the people and the island is the amount of diversity. Compared to many other islands in the Caribbean, you’ll find several different cultures in Trinidad. Influences can even be seen in music from Venezuela, as they are geographically only a hop away from each other.
In any case the show was about to start and CJ and Nnamdi still hadn’t made it to the club. I decided to park myself up front, where all the press was placed. I had just purchased a Digital Rebel and wanted to bring back a nice photo journal of my trip. But before I could think anymore on capturing great shots, the stage began to transform its way into a 1920s Moulin Rouge. Models paraded the stage, twirled, danced, laughed, and strutted every inch of the glittery, beaded and sequined constructed costumes. Confetti exploded from the ceiling, covering the catwalk and gaping audience alike. With the finale, they lined the stage wall-to-wall and gave one last glimpse at the band's costumes for Carnival 2005.
After the models left the stage, the audience readied themselves for performances by Destra Garcia and Dawg E Slaughter, local Soca stars. Men were ignited by the sounds of Destra voice, not to mention all the winin’ she was doing with her waist. Women were hypnotized as Slaughter sang out lyrics to "Carnival, I Love You." The fete was only beginning to get started, and I had finally found CJ and Nnamdi. They missed a large portion of the event but still made up for lost time on the dance floor.
And we danced and danced as the DJ spun more and more calypso, soca, and reggae favorites. We danced and danced and danced until the lights came on and they started kicking us out. This normally doesn’t happen in TnT, as people like to party 'til the cows come home, but it was the Country Club rules. Go figure. Time to plan for Carnival.
If you go, band launches typically start happening between October and November. You will find them all over the island, but you’ll have to keep an eye out for flyers or an open ear for the buzz on the streets. If the country club in particular interests you, it can be found easily by asking anyone. They’ll point you in the right direction.