Sun | Dec 8, 2019

Xaymaca readies its ‘Playlist’ - Carnival band set to turn on ­masqueraders with new costumes

Published:Friday | November 15, 2019 | 12:17 AMStephanie Lyew/Gleaner Writer
Finalists in the Xaymaca design competition.
Finalists in the Xaymaca design competition.

The first band to unveil its costumes for the carnival 2019 season was Xaymaca International, executed in an unforgettable showcase of intricate design details and music for its ‘Iconic’ theme. The presentation of its ‘Dancehall Queen’ section served as the crowning moment, breaking new ground as it feathered in local and regional culture with the design and delivery.

This year, the pioneers announced the theme ‘Playlist’, which, according to band director Kandi King, was a concept created out of a brainwave to tie the launch of the costumes to music.

“Masqueraders are ready for something new and exciting, more than the usual decorated bra and panty, and what better way to be innovative? The theme ‘Playlist’ came quite naturally,” King told The Gleaner.

Xaymaca International will close the launch period, and it is expected that its ­presentations will amplify the volume of Jamaica’s carnival celebrations.

STANDING OUT

“If I had to choose one word to describe the launch and costumes for this year, it would be ‘different’,” King said.

Exemplifying ‘difference’, the band decided to go against the status quo by opening its doors to local and regional designers to be part of a costume design ­competition from August to October, which, she said, went exceptionally well, and preparations are in full swing, with the various teams putting on the final touches for the main presentation on Friday, November 29.

“We are in the final stretch, so there are a lot of late nights and early mornings. The competition has surpassed all our ­expectations, and we can’t wait to share it with everyone, so honestly, the team can’t wait to debut the ­selections for carnival 2020 and give our masqueraders the amazing ­experience we’re known for,” she said.

Photos for the competition have been uploaded to Instagram, “and the public will be able to vote for their favourite. Overall, we feel that this competition has created a space to further develop the local industry, and we’re very proud of how it’s turned out”.

The band director said that there was no pressure to follow the band launches of Bacchanal and Xodus or to switch from first to last to debut their costumes instead, “The pressure comes from the ­masqueraders rather than being the last band to aim to provide the best options and experience for them. It is them that we don’t want to disappoint.”

Jamaica is in the spotlight right now for carnivals worldwide. It is for this reason alone that King believes 2020 will be the ­biggest year yet for the island’s ­carnival ­celebrations. Considering its steady expansion, the band has been developing plans of action for the upcoming season. With regard to past challenges such as delays on the road, King said that all the bands were working together to make sure that carnival 2020 is the best and smoothest year yet.

“Carnival here is only getting bigger and better. I’m excited to see the industry’s growth, ­especially having been a part of it from when only a group of us were avid carnival-goers and soca lovers. We have already begun strategising with the Carnival in Jamaica team for this, and this is the umbrella brand which comprises all band leaders and some members of Government,” she concluded.

stephanie.lyew@gleanerjm.com