Brooklyn Labor Day Carnival Weekend 2012
Every year, I look forward to Labor Day weekend in Brooklyn. I look for fetes to attend, I get my crew together, and I pick out what I’m going to wear to comfortably shake my assets on Eastern Parkway. I’m a girl that likes to jump and wave all weekend and I was not able to do that this year. Usually, I have to comb through flyers, check Twitter, and listen to every West Indian radio announcer in Brooklyn to find out which of the many hot events I will attend. This year was slim pickings. The most buzzed about events were BrassFest, Brass & Glow, and 5 Alarm Blaze. What happened to the other events...not to mention, all of the artists? Where were all of the Trini and Bajan artists? Even the Jamaican artists, who have previously been unable to come to NYC for Labor Day, represented well. Concerts featuring Beenie Man, Konshens, and Mr. Vegas were touted more than any other artists, including Machel Montano.
That being said, I did attend one fete that had so much enthusiasm and energy that I did not stop dancing all night: Brass and Glow! Shout out to the promoters and to Flavastation 107.9FM for making Pulse 48 Yard the place to be on Saturday night. My girls and I could not even find parking for blocks because so many people came out. Of course they did. Where else were we going to see Konshens, Benjai, Krosfyah, Tallpree, Supper Jigga TC, Shal Marshall, Mr. Killa, and The Request Band? This was the kind of fete I had been hunting for the entire weekend. The masses were wild, crazy, and out to get their $40 worth. Every artist that appeared had the crowd raving. Konshens (with his sexy self) ran through his popular songs and even brought a lucky female patron up on stage for a sexy, slightly S&M performance. Lucky broad! Once The People’s Champion started “Trini,” all the proud Trinibagonians began frantically spinning their rags. Tallpree only had to ask if the crowd “mad or wha?” to get the Grenadians in a frenzy. TC had women wining and bending down low and Shal Marshall made them all want to ride his motorbike.
The surprisingly entertaining moments came from The Request Band, whose female singer sang tunes while swinging on the hips of a male audience member, and Mr. Killa, who showcased his wining skill - right side up and upside down. When I left Pulse 48, my entire body was in pain - just how I like it.
This year’s j’ouvert still had a good turnout, despite the early morning rain. On Nostrand Avenue and Empire Blvd. at 7am, crowds gathered and started the day with mud, paint, and powder. Now, this was the j’ouvert I know. As Fay-Ann described it, “streets of dutty people long like the Nile.” Children, teens, and the mature all partying and getting dirty together. If the bands were not in costume, they had their own unique paint colors. The steel bands and rhythm sections dictated the pace of my chip as I moved from band to band. Some bands were political and some just came out to play in the streets. Either way, they had one goal: to take over the road!
A surprising site was the amount of police in de session! They were out in force to keep the peace and to avoid heavy roadblocks. No, this year they were not wining on anything. They were actually doing their jobs and very polite as they watched the procession of mud-covered people. The event was calm and only a few people were carried away in police cars for trying to start problems on the road.
Now, let’s talk about the turnout at the Parkway. After being nearly tra mpled last year, I decided that the Parkway was not for me. Based on what my reps tell me, I was not the only one who avoided the parade this year for the same reason. For the largest festival in New York City, the West Indian Labor Day parade had a pretty disappointing turnout. I admit, I was only there for about 15 minutes, but that was long enough to notice the low turnout. To be fair, I cannot say that I blame people for staying away from the parade this year after the repeated incidents last year. I mean, who wants to have to keep running every five minutes? That’s not even long enough to eat the oxtails I usually buy. From what my reps reported to me, the strong police presence did curb the number of incidents on the road this year, but two people were stabbed and two others shot as the parade came to a close. Side note, I would usually watch some of the parade on television while I got ready to head out, but this time, few channels were willing to brave the road to cover this parade after what happened last year.
Speaking of too little coverage – what was up with some of those costumes this year? Who thought it was a good idea to give women chain thongs that could not contain their astronomical features? It’s bad enough that women sported these barely-there garments, but to bend over, wine down and do splits was a bit much. I know that Carnival is a free-up time, but some folks got way too free. Let’s exhibit some decorum people.
Although WIADCA bragged about its new president and new policies to ensure a safe celebration of West Indian culture, there were still violent incidents on and near the Parkway. Why does this happen every single year? Is this due to the residential location of the parade? Is it the fact that it does not take place in a stadium or other pay-to-enter venue? What would it take to stop all of the violence that plagues the Brooklyn West Indian parade every Labor Day? No, seriously. I’m asking.