Baje International Launch 2016

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

True to form, Baje International closed the curtains on Band Launch Season with the premiere of NEO – A New Day; the theme of the veteran band’s seven-section Crop Over 2016 costume collection. As per last year’s modus operandi, Baje transformed the grounds of the illustrious Bagatelle Great House. The set up was similar; the center of attention being an elevated catwalk with mirroring screens and bilateral stages that housed musical accompaniments. Ample space housed the crowd that Baje is known to attract. So too was the large designated parking lot equipped with friendly parking wardens, which harmonized well with the seamless entry into the venue. Adequate cover was welcomed and shielded patrons from the intermittent inclement weather, which for another year seemed to be determined to challenge Baje’s fortitude. 

When yuh see a man fishing in a dry pond, don’t call ‘e a fool.

Taken at face value, many of us will continue to be baffled by Baje’s decision to be the last among many to release it’s band launch date, theme, location and entrance fee; the latter two being the most withheld of the lot. It was indeed the case in 2015 and this year was no exception. Furthermore, if we consider that as per usual, the first costume sneak peek was released one day prior to the launch and the second within a few hours to launch time, then we will have some insight into Baje’s strategy. After all, intrigue is often the fertilizer that makes curiosity and interest blossom. However, the dwindling size of the crowd in attendance, as compared to last year, may be an indication that this approach is in need of refinement, even in the face of the laudable attempt to encourage attendees to arrive at Bagatelle Great House well in advance of show time, by offering free drinks during the first hour of the launch. 

Give Jack ‘e jacket.

Baje delivered a show with excellent production value. NEO – A New Day began with a well-choreographed jazz dance routine accentuated with a beautiful opening performance by the Barbadian songstress Nikita, who drenched the airwaves with ‘Tequila’ last season. It was enough to pull the crowd from the depths of its restless and seemingly irritated frenzy brought on by a much-delayed show start and deliver them to a highly entertained state as was the band’s intention. While enjoyable and we do see why a rendition of Nina Simone’s ‘Feeling Good’ was the song of choice due to its lyrical content, it held no place on a Crop Over band launch stage; a season that both thrives on and celebrates the contribution of calypso artists. We have condemned others and will continue to do so in hopes that such an occurrence is banished from the face of Band Launch Seasons to come.

Give Cora she coat.

The amount of organization and detail that went into Baje’s costume showcase is commendable. While others chose only to wow onlookers with an entertaining opening and rest the remainder of the presentation on the shoulders of the models, Baje chose to herald the arrival of each of its seven sections on stage with its own unique entertainment package. Dancers, singers, a fire-eater and a violinist duo all had their time to shine on stage and worked well to get the crowd excited about what was to come. When taken as a whole, although each was equally enjoyable, at times it seemed as though it was a challenge to weave the sections together and as a result the entire show seemed disjointed. The sections appeared to be separate and apart instead of flowing seamlessly into each other as a single unit. A steel pannist and a musical band also accompanied the entire showcase, undoubtedly to add production value. However, each seemed to blend into the background of costumes, routines, sparklers and theatrical smoke and their beauty could only be appreciated by those who would have chosen to disregard the aforementioned, which we predict largely was not the case as most came to view the costumes. Perhaps each should have had its own segment in the grand scheme of things.

To each his own. 

The models modeled the costumes well; modeled being the operative word here. There were rarely any cases of parading on stage, as is rightfully the Kadooment costume showcase tradition. Instead the presentation was more in accordance with a fashion show; a style we have realized that some bands have chosen to adopt and must be cautioned against. It does not serve the festiveness of Kadooment well, does not further elevate the party atmosphere and does not relay the vibes and on-the-road experience that patrons are to expect from the band on Grand Kadooment Day. Nevertheless, this seems to be the Baje way and one that their fans respond to. 

Wha’ hurt turkey don’ hurt duck.

Another Baje way seems to be the hip hop-oriented presentation of the male costumes year after year. Although they did not make their entrance on stage under the veil of black garbage bags this season, the thug-like impersonation was again staged to the sounds of a popular hip-hop song. Again we question its appropriateness but the crowd response may have suggested otherwise or perhaps may have only been a reflection of the song’s popularity. To add, the male presentation seemed more to be geared towards entertainment for the crowd rather than to showcase the costumes. All seven males invaded the stage simultaneously and it was virtually impossible to tell which costumes represented, which sections. The male costumes also lacked character. This was quite the contrast to the presentation of the female costume sections. As mentioned prior, each had its own opening segment and the section names were clearly defined. This was especially the case for the backline costumes. Perhaps this alludes to a predominantly female-focused costume line and warrants consideration in the face of the emergence of male masqueraders who also crave the same bells, whistles and attention awarded to female costumes. On the other hand, perhaps this veteran band is clear on what its supporters desire but if its intention is to attract a new wave of masqueraders then careful reconsideration is necessary.

Yuh can’ want it in de glass and the bottle too.

On the whole, Baje’s showcase was a joy to watch. It was filled with surprises and indeed, the female costumes were the focus of the night. The colour combinations were fantastic. However, the Vida section stole the show both among the backlines and the frontlines. This section was unique and the most memorable of the lot. Unfortunately, the other sections while attractive did not past the Memorability Test and we cannot say that they are a step up from last year’s offerings. Placing Baje’s costumes among those launched for the 2016 season, there are no clear elements that set them apart; the latter being a goal that all bands should strive to achieve. 

Experience is the mother of wisdom.

Baje is no new band and has catered to the modern masquerader for many years. This band is seasoned and has a wealth of steadfast supporters; it is common knowledge. Therefore, amidst all that was discussed, we must consider the fact that this might be an indication that the band is particularly knowledgeable about the needs of its target market and continues to mold its Kadooment offerings with those needs in mind. Moreover, Baje’s years of experience in the Kadooment world was also reflected in the fact that immediately after the costumes appeared on stage, official images and prices were available online and online registration commenced. Furthermore, the band house was set to open in less than 24 hours after the conclusion of the launch. Quite commendable and speaks volumes about the level of organization that goes into the delivery of their product. 

For more information about Baje International and for costume prices and registration details, visit:
Facebook: Baje International Inc
Instagram: @bajeintl