Stadium left out of action
LIKE A RELIC, the National Stadium stood empty and ignored by those gathered outside its unpainted walls yesterday to witness the kaleidoscope of colour and energetic gyrations that is Grand Kadooment Day.Under overcast skies with a slight cooling breeze, people started to assemble from just after 8 a.m. to witness the 22 registered bands scheduled to parade before the judges.Vendors were putting drinks on ice, while others were preparing their grills or trays of snacks and ackees. Five Chinese men were conversing on the grass, while a few groups of tourists –their various languages giving them away – were milling around, waiting.As the bands turned onto Waterford from Codrington Hill, they assembled their members in order to face judgement. By 9:30 a.m. the first band, Walk Holy, crossed in front of the judges, who were accommodated under a specially-constructed elevated area facing Waterford and backing the vacant arena. Though they were not judged the 25 revellers gave the crowd, which by now had grown to several hundred, a taste of what was to come.This anticipation continued to build when the Martiniquan street band A Sou You followed playing an infectious beat with their various drums, trumpets, horns and saxophone. Again, they were not there to be judged, but gave the crowd, especially in the covered bleachers next to the judges’ enclosure, a glimpse of the sweet rhythms one could expect at that country’s carnival or even at Mardi Gras in New Orleans.The seven sectioned Blue Box Cart Band followed and their revellers were in their usual merriment. The additional 1.3 miles to this year’s route as a result of starting at Warrens, St Michael, instead of the stadium, only seemed to have enhanced their spirited enjoyment.Thereafter the main event began with Renee Ratcliffe’s band Spirit Of The Gap parading before the judges at 9:59 a.m. This band’s different sections showcased some of the main venues in St Lawrence Gap. The highlights of this band were the individual costumes, especially the Siren Of The Sea wonderfully portrayed by Dawn-Lisa Callender-Smith.Next up was Ravurz with De Caribbean In We, followed by Contact with Blood and Mikey aboard their truck. Fitness queen Cigi Blackett, the flag woman for Contact, was simply Ms Energy performing one arm flips and other acrobatic acts. The only other flag person to match her energy was Justin Poleon, who appeared for Youth Explosion hours later. His routine was not only energetic, but creative as he led his other youthful charges from the front.The highlight performances before the judges were from the bands Baje International, Outrage, Wednesday 2000, Power X Four, Betty West, Gwyneth Squires and Youth Explosion. Their revellers, for the most part, had well co-ordinated performances. However for the majority of the bands which was dominated by women, revellers were unsure which direction to face for the judges and had to be instructed to do so, and then did so rather unconvincingly. This fact was brought out in the raw displays of wukking up that followed. As the songs played showed the preference for Road March, the ones most heard were Foot On Fire by Blood, Drop It by Mr Dale, Whole Place Mash Up by Soca Kartel and Guh Down by Li’l Rick.By 2:48 p.m. all the costumed bands had passed. Thereafter scores of primarily young men, some dressed in school uniforms or wearing distinctive school ties, were preparing to jump behind the two last two trucks, provided for non-band revellers.Armed Special Services Unit personnel, were positioned to accompany those trucks on their trek down to Spring Garden. And behind them, Sanitation Service Authority trucks with personnel busily cleaning up the streets had begun their work.