So islandistas, remember last year when we asked if Barbados’ Foreday Morning jump (a jouvert-type jump) was turning into Monday mas?
You know, all sequinned and bejewelled and sexy instead of muddy and painted?
Well it seems that if it’s up to the official organisers of Crop-Over, the National Cultural Foundation, the answer to that is “hell, no!”
The internet was abuzz yesterday after a communique from the NCF went out which stated firmly (emphasis theirs):
“Bandleaders are reminded that Foreday Morning is NOT intended to become ‘Kadooment at night’, and as such it is expected that the costumes being supplied to band members do not include elements that typify Kadooment costumes.”
The letter said these elements included but were not limited to feathers, beads, trim on costumes or swimwear, ornate headwear i.e. tiaras, decorative headpieces etc.
Even more interestingly, an earlier email apparently went out which also included bikini tops, bikini bottoms, swimsuits (whole piece or two piece) and bottoms that are cut in a high waist bikini or swimsuit style and costumes that are shiny, glittery or reflective.
This would include well… basically every popular costume in every popular band last year.
So this would be out.
And definitely this.
And this would be out too.
While the NCF later explained that the email about the high-waisted bikini bottoms, bikini tops etc were just regulations being considered, it has caused enough concern that Foreday band leaders have been reaching out to their followers to get their take on it.
There are many small and large ironies in this. First and most glaringly, Foreday Morning only exploded in popularity in recent years when bands started becoming prettier. It attracted the socialites and Facebook-famous chicks who don’t necessarily want to get sweaty jumping in the hot sun on Kadooment Day but are happy to parade in the cool of the night. Foreday’s massive growth has been documented here – it kickstarted in 2010 when it tripled from 5 bands to 15 and has grown exponentially ever since, with 41 bands registered last year.
If the NCF clamps down on the elements that have made Foreday Morning so popular in recent years, won’t they really be hurting the event itself? While I personally am a fan of muddy mas let’s face it. The hot girls don’t want paint or mud on their costumes or worse yet, in their remy.
And is that such a bad thing? Foreday has been evolving on its own to the extent that last year it even attracted Rihanna to jump, shining the bright light of the international press on another part of the festival. Is it in Foreday Morning’s best interest to stifle its evolution?
Furthermore, is it in the NCF’s interest? While I’m sure they don’t make money from Foreday beyond band registration fees, a move like this could just drive private promoters to make their own jouvert. Yuh know, like what Baje was doing for years and which the bougie crowd (present company included) used to flock to in years gone by, avoiding the wildness that was Foreday in the early noughties.
Just last weekend, a new, private event called Joukanal sprung up in response to the late cancellation of the annual UWI Carnival, Kaduwival. A street parade ain’t that complex and lots of people have done it. There was the cricket carnival, Congaline, Settlers West Coast Experience and of course, all of the various parish carnivals.
The NCF really risks forcing Foreday’s more image-conscious revellers (ie at least half of them) into the arms of a private promoter, especially since many of the band leaders are also fete promoters.
Another irony is the whole idea of preserving the ‘culture’ of Foreday Morning which is 1) less than 20 years old and 2) started as an imitation of Trinidad Carnival’s Jouvert (name not withstanding).
Shouldn’t we be glad that Foreday is developing its own identity? Amidst ever more Trini-isation of Crop-Over by the NCF with its incessant pan limes (pan on the sand, pan on the water, pan in town and on and on while tuk is…where?) , shouldn’t we encourage our events to find their own voice and identity?
In a small irony one of the first bands to react was Island Fusion which is Barbados’ largest Foreday band. The five ladies of Island Fusion are the ones who really pioneered the pretty-dutty mas in Foreday and brought the (young) bouge into the event (and high prices but that’s another post).
One of IF’s directors? Jamilya Browne, niece of NCF CEO Cranston Browne.
Ahh the generation gap!
The story has made it to the Nation newspaper (in truncated form but still…) so we expect to see plenty of debate about this in the coming days! I don’t see how bandleaders will take this quietly.
What do you think, islandistas? Is this the right direction for Foreday? Which team are you on? #TeamPretty or #TeamMuddy?