In the interest of not appearing to have written a dissertation I left out some things…
I have a very mixed view of experience playing mas with Dreamteam Carnival for Trinidad Carnival 2015. I encountered problems from the time I registered until AFTER I left Trinidad. It is my opinion that the band leader needs to revamp the band from top-to-bottom. I definitely would NOT play mas with this band again for reasons to follow:
The online registration process for this band was simple enough. However, I'm extremely disappointed that PayPal was not an option for making payments in my section, but it was for some others. Furthermore, I'm baffled as to why there was a mix up with my costume size when registration was an automated process. I'm equally confused as to why my section leader was reconfirming my registration details two weeks prior to costume collection (end January), when I registered and deposited in September. To say that communication was lacking on the part of my section leader is an understatement. She sent me an email in January asking "ya make a deposit?" At that point, I was freaking out and I was wondering what was up with her English. That was a small snipet from a series of messages that I almost had to use Google translate for. I actually had to re-read all of her emails several times because her communication skills were so poor.
Moreover, I also had to inquire several times about when a head-to-toe picture of my costume would be posted online (this never happened). The band also advertised that Mondaywear was complimentary, but the Mondaywear option for my section was never posted online either. My section leader did send me a picture of the Mondaywear options (two monokinis) but changed it to boy shorts and a tank top because in her words "registration was movin' slow". As a consumer, I don't need to know that you are having problems selling your section and I also expected to get what I was shown initially. It was a good thing that I made alternate Mondaywear arrangements--
I'm not exactly sure how the band leader manages this band, but it seems that the section leaders lease their sections from the band which in this case was not good for the masqueraders. I can attest to this because four of my friends also played with Dreamteam. I played in Aurora section, one played in Supernova, two played in Rivendell (horrible experience), and one played in Menagerie. Each of us received different "goodies" in our recyclable Poligrip bags. My friend that played in the Supernova section had a wonderful experience; her section leader was very professional and accommodating from the very beginning, unfortunately the same can’t be said for the rest of us.
Let me preface this paragraph by saying that I had to hire a driver to take me to pick-up my costume as I'm not a resident of Trinidad. My section leader had me waiting 40 minutes for her OUTSIDE in the baking sun to pick-up my costume. The bandleader was so kind as to offer my friend and I some water since he would not allow us to wait inside because we were there outside of costume pick-up hours. Keep in mind that the costume pick-up for my section was the Friday before carnival from 4p-8p. I'm not sure if it ever crossed the mind of the band and section leaders that people also come to Trinidad to party...I had purchased tickets for an event in December that was happening at the same exact time. That mas camp should have been open for eight hours at minimum for costume pick-up daily.
Still, I thought that my costume was pretty overall although like I stated previously I had not seen the midline in totality. The cost was $3,995TT/~$634US. It included a feathered headpiece, feathered collar, bikini bottom, earrings, necklace, arm pieces, legs pieces (I'm not sure what this was supposed to look like). I purchased a bustier from amazon for ~$13US because my section leader wanted to charge me an additional $50US for a bustier. She was nice enough to add some beading to it albeit very scanty. She didn't have to pay for the production cost of a bra or bustier so you would think that the diamante on the bustier I provided for her would have been "OFF DA HOOK". Instead, I had to add a few rhinestones that I brought with me for more bling. Moreover, I’m not sure if I was supposed to get feathered leg pieces as pictured on the frontline sample or the ballerina legs as pictured on the backline sample BUT I received neither! What I did get was a short piece (approx. 8”) of string with a rhinestone and trim attached to it.
The minute I took the costume out of my Poligrip bag trim started falling off. Now in my opinion after I pay over $600 for an article of clothing it should last me about 10 years minimum. I have clothes that I bought from Walmart that has lasted longer that my costume did. To say that the production and quality of the costume was sub-par is being kind. On carnival Tuesday before I even left the house I had to glue parts of my costume back together. By the time I met the band my arm-pieces had completely fallen apart. By price comparison to the other bands, I can only comfort myself by saying I got what I paid for. I would like Dreamteam to tell me how the hell I'm supposed to re-use my costume in NY and Miami if the damn thing fell apart before I could even take a good wine carnival Tuesday?!?!?!?!
I'm not going to write much about the food, but know that I had food poisoning from either Tuesday lunch or snack that lasted for several days. I'm still waiting on a phone call from someone since the bandleader emailed me asking for my phone number--it's March 1st no call received yet!!! I still have my chits from Monday snack and Tuesday breakfast because I never received it. I didn't receive any utensils to eat my lunch with on Tuesday, but they ran out of Tuesday lunch and some masqueraders did not get anything to eat so I guess I was "lucky."
They ran out of ice and Sorrel Shandy...how the hell do you run out of damn ice when it is that damn hot outside?!?! Sorrel Shandy is one thing BUT F****** ICE???? Okay...
The best part of my experience with this band is that I had fun on the road but that was up-to me so of course I was going to make the best of it! The DJ's were okay but I thought they could have mixed up the music some more, there's endless songs that they could have played instead of playing "Party Done" and "Like Ah Boss" 50 million times. Maybe that's an exaggeration but those two songs were played A LOT.
Security did do an adequate job of keeping non-masqueraders out of the band. The bartenders were pleasant for the most part but the people handing out the food appeared to be completely overwhelmed by the crowd. The lady and gentleman manning the toilet truck were very pleasant as was the driver of the cool down bus.
In conclusion, I think that this band had so much potential because the 2015 presentation was pretty cohesive. The costumes were pretty and they actually showed well on the road. The costumes were also well priced by comparison to the other bands. However, I can tell you with certainty that the Aurora and Rivendell section leaders left something to be desired, they were extremely unprofessional which reflected badly on the band leader.
I recommend that the bandleader create a more of a centralized process for communicating with masqueraders from registration to payment collection. They also need an online payment system, I should not have to pay additional money to use Western Union in 2015. ALL costume options need to be shown on the website along with pricing i.e. if a bustier cost an additional $50 that should be on the website. A masquerader should not be told about the additional cost a couple of weeks before costume pick-up. The bandleader also needs to extend costume pick-up time--a four hour window is absolutely ridiculous. Next year have the caterer tape the utensils to the carryout box…
Give masqueraders what they paid for!!! All beads and feathers should be accounted for.
Will only show what I took a picture of you can see the website version on Dreamteam's Facebook page.