Long gone are the days where masqueraders have the luxury to peruse each mas camp at leisure before selecting the costume of their choice for Carnival. In the 21st century, things have changed. We are now in the era of Carnival Chasers, enthusiasts who live to jump and fete at almost every Carnival around the globe. All eyes are on this tiny country, Trinidad and Tobago. Though this period has been around without an official title, during the months of July/August we anticipate the launching of premium costumes from the top designers in the Carnival arena; the big boys, the top 4! Now this phenomenon has turned into a seasonal event that we call Band Launch Season! It’s an extravaganza, an explosion of colour, costumes, the best bodies on show and stellar runway presentations. Every year we see new bands added to the carnival line-up and the departure of others who couldn’t survive in this battlefield. The battle of the bands! Who will win? That’s up to the masqueraders to decide. With Band Launch Season in full swing, here are some things to note. In other words, ready yuh self – Costumes are Coming!! Choosing your Band is priority number 1 As a masquerader it is important to decide in advance exactly which band is the best fit for you. It would do well to pay attention to reviews and ratings from friends or even Carnival “experts” come Ash Wednesday about costume quality, road experience, vibes and general value for money from the band/s you are contemplating playing with. This will help narrow down your choices and keep your focus on the costumes of ONLY the band you have decided you MUST play with. Costume choice is Secondary If you are the type of masquerader who needs to see EVERY band that launches in order to make a choice in costume, good luck! I guarantee that you will always see another costume worthy of wearing in many other bands so it is easy to lose focus if you keep looking. Reality only hits when the time arises for you to register, and your dream costume is already sold out while you were procrastinating. My advice is to have a top three list of costume options in the band of your choice. Know that there are different costume variations to choose from such as Individual, Frontline, Super Frontline, Backline, Super – Backline and dental floss. This is dictated by budget and costume availability. Organize Yuh Crew or Leave them Behind While ideally we all want to play mas with our friends and dem, sometimes waiting on these said friends ends up in a whirlwind of polarizing decisions and opinions dictating costume choice. It is imperative that you and your crew decide which band to play with, however choosing a BAND together is the only joint decision that matters. Moving on from there, is when the costume bacchanal starts. gel lyte 3 There is always that indecisive moment of costume choice among friends. One doesn’t want to play in red, one has her heart set on a black costume and one decides she is going for the ultra premium frontline of the designer she (but not you) is best buddies with . In the grand scheme of things deciding on ONE section that you all must play in is not that important. No one friend should dictate which costume that everyone has to play in; once you all are in the same band there is nothing to worry to about. Everybody will be jumping, wining and partying all as one after all . Bottom line, play in whichever costume YOU like and if your friends have a different choice well then leave them behind. You will always make a new friend on the road. Committee Registration If your band of choice is a BIG gun, brace yourselves for committee registration. Maglia Patrick Ewing By now you should be versed in Committee Registration 101 and are already familiar with the process or benefit from past masquerader registration, if you are then no worries yuh set… or are you? Committee registration is not about who you know, it’s who knows you! This registration is geared toward profiling and masquerader registration management by signing up persons within your social circle. Some would also say that selection is done to fill the band with those who are deemed “eligible” due to social and personal affiliations. That’s just the first step. Once you and the committee member already ‘link’ you must now have costume options because that mouthwatering costume that you’ve been craving may never hit your taste buds. Have Yuh Deposit Ready If you are reading this I hope you have your deposit in the bank! Costume deposit when registering ranges between $1500TTD – $2500TTD depending on the band or costume choice. If you are now scampering to find those funds, may the odds ever be in your favor . Mas bands are not keeping your costume on hold while you gather your coins. There will always be another masquerader more prepared and more eager to get into a band who is showing up on registration day 1 with money in hand. I suggest you call your sugar daddy, your blesser, mommy or daddy, loan officer or somebody who can help you with this ordeal if you are currently in a financial bind having ignored all previous advice to start saving EARLY. Don’t hang your hat where your hand cannot reach, then start a ruckus about costume prices; choose a band within your price range or budget. Be prepared for Disappointment Post Band Launch, registration is the Hunger Games of Carnival. Things don’t always go as planned and chances are you may end up in a band or costume that you have regrettably settled for. Ah well, there is always next year, hopefully you will be better prepared with these tips.