Cayman Carnival, also known as Batabano, has proven to be more than just a painting on a wall. Instead, it has taken steady work of art for Batabano to turn into the celebration that it is today.
The word ‘Batabano’ pronounced ‘bah-tah-bah-noo’ signifies the trail tracks turtles leave behind in the sand after they crawl to the beach to nest. Coincidentally enough, this year, a 4 day celebration left a trail of memories behind for both spectators and masqueraders.
Batabano kicked off on Thursday night with a masquerade fete where the legendary Oscar B and the Queen of Bacchanal, Destra graced the stage on the shores of Royal Palms beach on West Bay Road.
An amazing performance in the heart of town by the Viking of Soca, Bunji Garlin was a sweet treat for revellers on Friday night!
On the big day Saturday the road march was nothing short of fun….no pun intended.
Even though the route is usually 3 – 4 hours in length, masqueraders embrace this uniqueness, make it intense and build up the vibes even quicker. The Batabano road march is without a doubt good down to the very last drop – not bad for a small island nation.
Similar to crossing the stage in Trinidad or Half Way Tree in Jamaica, the peak of the road is when bands pass the judging stations in central George Town. Unlike other Carnivals, each band gets into their respective sections to be judged. Only then are marshalls put to the test! Imagine coordinating over 1200 drunken masqueraders at a time.
Several t-shirt bands are also part of the road march. These cater to revellers who want to get a piece of the action but don’t necessarily want to be bothered with the costume fuss. This is quite normal for Cayman which considers itself a relative conservative country.
Although, just recently Batabano lovers have made popular demands for a change – an extended route – making it even more worthwhile. Fingers crossed!
Also on the list of fetes, Skinny Fabulous and K Rich hit the stage at Swanky’s (a popular band) after party.
As the finale on Sunday, ‘Sweetness on the Water’ boat cruise was the icing on the cake. Jamming to the sounds of local dj’s including Miami’s dj Barrie Hype and Soca Sweetness from Toronto. Hosted by Swanky, Trini Jungle Juice, K Rich and Skinny Fabulous, 2 more boats – ‘Rum and Soca’ joined us on the shores of Star Fish Point – the usual Sunday hangout.
To add more icing, an unexpected turn of events occurred. Before we knew it, engineers were switching chords and DJ’s were swapping mics. These 3 boats quickly became 1 big party – the first Cayman had ever seen. On the downside, the vibes aaaaalmost made up for the shortage of alcohol and food. Caymanians love dem bellie!
Going into its 33rd year of existence, Batabano is a drug local soca addicts crave – and with the right people, the right vibes and right selection of performers, Batabano will get bigger and better in more years to come!