Can you believe it? It was only a week ago I was jamming down Factory Road singing OOH Tanya at the highest octave possible, now I’m typing about my experience.
In January, Top Shelf Events and I partnered to market, and push the Antiguan Carnival Experience. I’m happy I got to see with my own two eyes, what the Greatest Summer Festival was like, so let’s get into my experience.
Where I stayed
I stayed at the Royalton Antigua. A newly built chic all-inclusive resort. Not only was the resort scenic, but the infinity pool, luxury bedrooms and restaurant options were top notch. I was especially impressed with the hand held steamer [no ironing] and motion sensor lights in the rooms. Staff were so gracious as well, you won’t be sneaking guests into this hotel though, security does not play so keep that in mind if you book this accommodation. I coordinated all of my accommodations and transportation through Yat Concierge and ACE7, so if you ever visit, definitely contact them.
Where I partied
As I mentioned above, I partnered with Top Shelf Events so of course I would be attending all their fetes. Top Shelf had a 4-event line up for the season, all intimately exclusive and fun, perfectly curated for the carnival goer. I missed Tease as it was the Monday before I arrived but I heard patrons were EXTRA SLACK [peeks over sunglasses]
I was well rested and ready for Ripple by the time I got myself together. Ripple was a boat cruise, that docked at the beach where we got to eat and fete some more. If you are a lover of dance-hall mixed into your fetes, you will love Antigua. There was a boat dedicated to Bajan [bashment] soca. DJs played a wide array of music selections at this event, I was thoroughly impressed. From Scrunter that our parents would enjoy, all the way to the latest hit out of St. Vincent, ‘Nasty Up’.
Did I mention that Ripple was an all inclusive fete for $63usd? Drinks flowed, we got coconut water and the food was actually delicious and FILLING, not likkle finger foods. It makes sense that this was the first fete to sell out.
*DJ Spaniard on the 1s & 2s
After Ripple, there was Lemonade. Another all inclusive event but breakfast style. Lemonade was held at the Antiguan Athletic Club so already the grounds were scenic and it was HOT! Lemonade’s ticket was $63USD, another shocker because it is an all inclusive event. Word on the street is that most Antiguan fetes are either drink OR food inclusive, they don’t believe in pulling out cash to pay for things at parties [ to my satisfaction]
Seafood chowder and other hot plated dishes were served. I had the BEST bun and cheese of my life at this event. The bun was subtle with a hint of cinnamon. There were also two specialty bars in addition to the main bar, what does that mean? DRUNKNESS!! Patrons ended up in the pool in their good up clothes so enough said!
While you would typically not find me attending cultural events, Soca Monarch was the move on Sunday night. I pulled myself out of bed and headed to the show. Although I did not know some of the artists, I was so engaged in the overall performance and presentation.
Soca Monarch reminded me of how carnival used to feel without some of the extreme commercialized aspects. The community coming together to eat, drink and enjoy pageantry and music together. Menace XL won the Groovy Soca Monarch title and it was well deserved. He put on a stellar performance.
Who I played jouvert with
In an effort not to limit myself, I played jouvert with Caution by Project Sync and Chattabox. Let me tell you, I had a blast with both!! Caution was VIBES from start to finish, people came to jouvert to FETE!!. I really loved Chattabox as well, for their first time on the road, the vibes was exceptional and I loved all the goodies in my package. The yellow Chattabox goggles were so cute.
Who I played mas with
If you decide to play mas in Antigua, and you google, several bands will come up but I made the choice to play mas with Myst Carnival. Not only are they known for their vibes but for their amenities as well. So registration was rapid, the band launched, I selected my costume and waited for the day I got to pick up my costume.
I got to Antigua and stopped for some food but headed to mascamp for my costume. PICK UP TOOK ALL OF 10 MINUTES!! Seriously! 10 minutes. We went through my box, my goodie bag and I was on my way. There is a fitting room upstairs for patrons that wanted to try on their costume but I eye-balled mine. I was especially happy that Myst provided Monday wear, something that bands in Antigua still do.Carnival Monday was vibes, we did not get on the road until 3pm but carnival goes well into the night, 10pm we were still chipping. It makes sense too because Antiguans really turn up the pace at night, the sun too hot for them to be brukking out in the high sun so people keep it cute until the sun doesn’t feel like death.
I started my day with champagne of course, unfortunately you cannot carry glass bottles in the street [in the event i saw my ex or something and knocked him out] but there was a bartender who kept my cup filled and even walked through the band with the champagne. There were also drink and snack runners, so you did not have to run back and forth to the bar each time.
I was happy to discover that while Antiguan music was played 75% of the time, other regional Soca was mixed in. I now have some Antiguan faves that I personally cannot stop listening to. We had several Antiguan artists in Myst as well, like Ricardo Drue, Low Rider and Menace XL.
I was especially impressed with the lunch stop. We arrived at basketball court with PLENTY seating, two sides filled with piping hot food, dessert and fruit, a massage station, a refresh station and real bathrooms [lord knows how much I hate a portable bathroom]. Instead of bum rushing the line for food, I quickly ran to the massage station and had a foot rub and back massage. Myst whatever vendor you hired for this service, please bring them back. Biggs was amazing!
By now you know I only eat fish, and there was fish in abundance so I didn’t have to beg food and even though I waited until all of the masqueraders ate, there was still plenty food. We got back out on the road and that’s where the turn up began. We partied well into the night — it was time to go rest up for Carnival Tuesday.
Now I thought carnival Tuesday would have started a bit earlier but WEST INDIANS again lmao.. we were back on the road around 2/3pm again. With everyone looking beautiful in their costumes. My costume was well made! No pieces fell off and my backpack survived all my wining.
I was late on Carnival Tuesday so by the time I met the band, we were headed to lunch stop. Perfection really! I got something to eat really quickly and went and sat on the A/C truck. I must have spent 35 minutes on the cool down truck relaxing and charging my phone. When I got off, it was champagne time. I love that the drinks truck was relatively low enough for short people like myself to get their own drinks.
Getting Ready Details
- MUA: Hues Aura Makeup Artistry
- Costume: Myst Carnival
- Photography: Sydney Codrington
- Stockings: Carnivalista. Discount Code: GLOBEY2023
- Skin: Mahogany Butters
Just as I felt like I was about to faint in the hot sun, MYST RUNNERS BROUGHT OUT ICE COLD TOWELS! Excuse me?!?! Never in my days. I was so happy and then we got some sucka bags [Antiguans call it sucka bubbies] to further assist with cooling down masqueraders.
Just when I finally cool off myself, GUESS WHOSE VOICE came blazing through the speakers — MACHEL MONTANO! Yes, Monk Monte was on top the truck and on the road for Myst Tuesday, so you know the party start back again! I loveddd that he sang Antiguan Songs and came off the truck to do the popular fish dance lol.
There were three music trucks so while the band was lining up to cross the stage, I kept going between the first and last music truck. Again, ALL island soca was played. I was surprised to hear a lot of Bouyon on the road as well. Vibes continued well into the night time, we did not cross the stage until 9pm or so.
DO YOU KNOW after we crossed the stage, we were headed to LAST LAP? Sas Crice! The trucks headed back to the Myst Capitol [also known as mascamp] and we continued drinking, eating and feting until midnight. We actually ended leaving before the trucks and other masqueraders did.
Myst Road DJs: Sir Lance, DJ Jime, DJ Miks, DJ Quest, Selecta J, DJ Virus, Tony Valardi and more
My sis, Bahamianista played mas with Insane Carnival, so check out her Antigua Carnival 2019 review here. All the bands in Antigua are a vibe. Add it to to your carnival bucket-list.
These are some of the top Antiguan #SOCA songs that were played on the road.
- Fish Dance x Low Rider
- In Yuh Face x Tian Winter
- Mating Season x MJ
- T.A.N.Y.A x Menace XL
- Do Wa Yuh Want x Tian Winter
- Let Loose x Tian Winter
- When Last x Claudette Peters
- Set On x Lucky
Where I cooled down
After all the pace and mas, we finally cooled down at Top Shelf’s final event, Juicy. I had the best cauliflower tacos at that beach [sorry I love my belly]. Patrons were relaxing, wining, and twerking in the water, so anything you were in the mood for, Juicy provided
I had an amazing time in Antigua. As a swimsuit lover, I could not be more happy to attempt my exploration of their 365 beaches. Book your flights early for 2020. Dates: July 23rd – August 4th, 2020.
Until next time.
Yours in Mas,