A band launch can tell you lot of things and Xhosa Barbados said a whole lot.
Here’s the rundown of their 2016 Crop Over launch from the eyes of a Bajan, starting with what could be improved:
The parking situation: Even though the parking attendants were really cool and friendly, the Garrison Savannah isn’t very well lit and if I did not roll with a crew, I would have been nervous going to my car alone.
Approach to the venue: There was no light going down that hill and if you’re prone to falling, even on flat surfaces like myself, it was kind of precarious.
Food: I had jerk chicken and roasted breadfruit which was fantastic, but at $20 they could really have given you more food.
Now, on to what was fantastic.
Vibes: Xhosa takes their slogan, “We don’t pose; We Party”, seriously. As soon as we got to the ticket booth and could hear the music, it was crystal clear that this was the first official fete of Crop Over. Xhosa knows their demographic and knows how to please them. All of the DJs were amazing and there was a good mix of Bajan soca and Trini soca.
Drinks: I brought a cooler, so really, I can’t give Xhosa credit for my drinks being good, but I love how they have their launch set up, so you bring your own drinks. I’m a gin drinker and with the exception of one event last Crop Over, I couldn’t find any gin anywhere. I understand why, but I digress.
Presentation of costumes: You know what I loved about Xhosa? They had a theme, “From Royalty to Redemption,” and stuck to it. In every section you could see elements of the theme reflected in the costume. They kept it fully African in the beginning with actual dancers whose choreography paid homage to our African ancestry and the theme. The drummers (yuh know Bajans love to do down to a drum beat) were on point, and really set the scene for the presentation.Usually during a costume launch, there’s one or two costumes that stand out for me, and the rest I could do without. Not so with Xhosa. All of the costumes grabbed me in some way and honestly, I will have a hard time choosing what section I want to be in this year.
Frontlines are frontline costumes for a reason. They are supposed to stand out and they did indeed, but the Xhosa backlines! Thank you, Kadooment Yeshua, for bestowing your benevolence on Xhosa’s designers because those backline costumes look better than the frontlines. In every section, the backline was fyah especially the Roast Entertainment section -- that turban. Let me tell yuh, that tribute to African women and Bajan women of yesteryear made my night. Like I said in a caption on a video I posted from the launch, “Roast ‘put some respeck’” on our culture and I am here for it.
Men: The male costumes were fantastic as well. There were some interesting chest pieces and all of the shorts and boardshorts looked fantastic. The headpiece options for the males were really nice too. I might low key try to get one to go with my backline costume.
Models: I gotta go full Bajan when I talk about these models, here. Every year I complain about how the models does be full of dem damn self and more interested in demself than modeling de costume. Not this time. Nope. The majority of models come on and do dixie. The energy was fantastic. Dem wukkup, dem display de costume and come off the stage. No long drawn out preening and look at how cute I am. People come to see the costumes not wunna. We can go on your IG if we’re interested in you. Xhosa models seem to get this.
Color and body diversity: Yes, I have to scream about this. I wish I could write this whole section in caps, but that would be obnoxious. As a woman with an unconventional body type and dark skin (melanin level: blessed), it was a joy to see that Xhosa showed a range of skin tones which represent the actual population of Barbados. No shade to other countries, but 90 odd percent of Barbados ranges from dark brown to dark I’d wager (subject to actual stats), and it does us a disservice to not reflect that in a costume presentation. Were most of the models Bajans? I don’t know. On top of that: There was a plus sized model. I repeat, there was a plus sized model! When, “Cacique,” the last section, brought on their backline model, Ashley Thornton, I wanted to slap up some paling. The place brek down.
The crowd screamed. It wasn’t a mocking scream. It was a scream of appreciation. It was a scream of, finally, finally! Finally, we get to see someone who is different. We get to see a whole-piece on a larger person. While Ashley and I don’t have the same body type, I am so happy to see a plus-sized model. For years now, larger Bajan women have felt like an afterthought during band launch season. You know the bands offer full pieces and high waist panty options, but you’re left to imagine how it will look on you and what kind of adjustments you may need to make. “Cacique,” wunna win for that! Ashley, you win!
I think that’s what really sealed the deal for me. Xhosa out here changing the game and clearly, they are serious about their product and serious about delivering to their demographic.
Captions for the green costumes: Paul Williams’ section: Revolution
For the turban model: Model, Tuesday wearing the hell out of Roast Entertainment’s backline for their section Zuela
For the guy costume: Model, Maurice Arthur, in Cacique’s offering for men
Model in white: Vibesy Cassie-Marie St. John wearing Scorch Bim’s Unchained backline
Plus sized model shot: Ashley Thornton slaying
Final group shot: Cacique section leader, Simone Arthur, with models Dannyele Leslie (L) and Ashley Thornton (R)