When it comes to large BBF Crop Over bands in Barbados, Baje International has arguably held the most influence and pull for the festival. Their brand has become extremely pervasive and for years has been almost synonymous with Crop Over. So of course, their launch was highly anticipated.
Held on the rooftop of the Limegrove Lifestyle Centre on the West Coast (A+ for location), I got there at about 7 o’clock, with notice that the launch would have been commencing around 6 o’clock. It in fact got started about an hour and a half after I got there. Gotta love Bajan time. While I waited, I milled around and took in the atmosphere. There was sushi, drinks, music and conversation to pass the time. A lot of beautiful people were out.
After the lonnnnnnnnnnng wait, Richard Haynes, director of Baje, came out and gave the usual apologies for the late start. He appeared on stage with Anya Ayoung-Chee, who it was revealed would be having a section in the band; predictably, the crowd cheered loudly. Having followed protocol, he then revealed Baje’s theme for this year: “BLUEPRINT”, the idea being that Baje went back to the drawing board in terms of mastering the fine details that engender the true spirit of Carnival. The on-the-road experience was heavily emphasised, before he made way for the models in the costumes.
The (female) costumes were beautiful (the males never came out). I can’t say that I could see the connection between the theme and the design at all. Some costumes seemed similar from years gone by, while others stood out – both frontlines, Fusion (Anya’s design) and Blueprint were visually pleasing, although I thought they could have made the wire bra slightly more risque, i.e skimpier. Pulse and Blueprint backline, particularly the headpiece, were quite nice as well. What they all had in common was an attention to detail in terms of bling all over and copious feathers. The models were also quite attractive…
Adding to the presentation was the performance of 2 women on either side of the stage pole-dancing – with great skill I might add! All in all, besides the (extremely) late start, the launch was quality in its presentation.
Turns out there was a reason they hid the male costumes. They were clearly an afterthought…nevertheless, by virtue of its consistency, its presentation and of course the core crowd it pulls from year to year, Baje has once again positioned itself as the forerunner in big band appeal for Crop Over.