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Bandleaders condemn mayor’s plan
Port-of-Spain mayor Louis Lee Sing might as well stop J’Ouvert and Carnival completely if he intends to prohibit J’Ouvert bands from using paint on Carnival Monday morning. This was the response of one J’Ouvert band yesterday to Lee Sing’s plan to ban masqueraders from using paint as he said they were defacing public and private property. In a telephone interview yesterday, leaders of the band Yellow Devilz J’Ouvert Joel Simmons and Kwesi Hopkinson said the mayor “might as well ban J’Ouvert.”
Simmons described Lee Sing’s pronouncement as one that sought “to kill the art form of J’Ouvert and Carnival.” Hopkinson offered an alternative for the mayor to consider. “Why not tax J’Ouvert bands a cleanup fee or, instead of telling bands they can’t go to Woodbrook or St Clair, offer them a route and control it? “Tell bands that nobody can break the route, and man it properly so that there is better security.”
Simmons suggested areas such as the foreshore on the Audrey Jeffers highway to Cocorite as an alternative route that could be properly secured. Renaud G, bandleader for J’Ouvert band Jungle Fever, said if the mayor wanted to ban paint, he needed to also move on mud, oil, powder and traditional blue devils as well. “And if he stops all those things, there will be no J’Ouvert,” he said. “I grew up in J’Ouvert and I have had this J’Ouvert band for 11 years and I cannot support this new rule from the mayor.”
He said the lack of respect for people’s property had to do with the mindset of masqueraders. While J’Ouvert without paint and mud might seem strange for some people, some J’Ouvert bands don’t use any of those accessories. Susan Goolie, bandleader of Ballerz and Associates J’Ouvert, said her masqueraders do not want or require paint or mud to have a good time. Her band does not use mud or oil paint and she says they have loads of “clean” fun without it.
“We play in costume and the masqueraders do their hair and nails to match the theme of the band. They enjoy playing with us because it isn’t dirty,” Goolie said.“I don’t think you need those things to have fun or to enjoy J’Ouvert.”
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