It looked like a scene from a movie all about a grand Caribbean plantation in the 18th Century, as elegant ladies and gentlemen walked sedately up the path to the Pedro St James grounds. Beautiful dresses for the ladies, and although there were no top hats to be seen, the gentlemen looked handsomely dressed too. But of course, a masquerade ball is nothing without masks. Shimmering turquoise and alluring azure; iridescent emerald echoing the colors of Cayman’s beautiful sea, contrasted with bright orange and crimsons and scarlet, just like Cayman’s setting sun; and told of a mystery that would unfurl like a fan as the night progressed. It’s the signature event that traditionally heralds the beginning of Batabano, Cayman’s biggest and longest-running street carnival.
And a masquerade ball is nothing without music. The sound of Steel Pan rhelped you know that you were in the Caribbean, as Earl La Pierre Jr. graced the stage. Of course, Trinidad is not only the home of Steel Pan, it is also the true home of Caribbean street carnival, too.
DJ Ginetta M, the lead trumpet player and vocalist from Ginetta’s Vendetta came next, and the guests just loved her oh-so-cool trumpet playing. Strains of James Brown, Miles Davies mingled with Ginetta’s own, unique compositions. Starting off with ‘My Funky Valentine,’ Ginetta kept the guests spellbound as she sang and played so beautifully.
DJ Silverfox kept the coolest soca sounds rolling out between sets, and it was time for the guests to chill and enjoy some good company and good food. And some plain old-fashioned fun. Everyone was loving the evening. Batabano founder, Carnival Queen Donna Myrie came onstage to thank everyone for supporting the event. Next year, she said, Batabano would go back to being Cayman’s only street carnival.
Finally it was time for the moment everyone had heard so much about. Mapy, a young French violinist, took to the stage and stole everyone’s heart with her wonderful, joyful mix of Jazz and hip-hop style, mixed up in a hot, sugarcane-sweet Caribbean gumbo of melody. She grew up in a Parisian suburb, mixing with kids who were from the Caribbean, and also from Reunion, a little island in the Indian Ocean, and learned the violin at the age of six, going on to study classical playing, but later branching out to her own music.
“In my borough, most of us were first-generation immigrant children, so I grew up with people from different countries and cultures. The majority of us were from Africa and the Caribbean. And because we were all going to the same school and went through a lot of difficulties of life together, not only we were neighbors, we were a big family. Hip-hop was our music, street art was decorating our walls, sneakers on our feet, dancers in the streets, boys and girls playing soccer in the parking lot… This is the wonderful multicultural cocktail that influenced me to be the artist I am today,” she said in an online interview.
Everyone was dancing, and getting into the Carnival spirit. And most important of all, just having fun.