An atmosphere of energy and purpose surrounds the Bailey mas camp, as descendants and peers of legendary mas man George Bailey prepare to launch the band Bailey Dynasty Mas. The presentation, Tribal Fantasy, is being built by Bailey’s brother Albert, niece Leeann and grand-nieces Allendra and Amanda, along with Dexter MacLean and Geoffrey Serrette.
The adult band, consisting of six sections, along with the children’s presentation, Black Is Beautiful, is being built at 15 Buller Street, Woodbrook. Leeann said she hopes people will come out and see what they have. “Bailey is back! I really feel like we’re alive again, and I’d really like people to come and lime with good food, drinks, good music, everything. We are bringing back, after 70 years, the Bailey band that George, Albert and Alvin started. We’re coming with real fire this year.”
Leeann said the name of the band came from a reference in a book where the family was referred to as the Bailey Dynasty. She said the designs for the adult and children’s sections are African inspired. “We went with the theme because our family came from Africa, my great-grandmother and her sister were the children of the slaves and they put their roots in Trinidad and I think it’s how they had the three boys grounded, Albert, George and Alvin, and when they tried to bring the mas, they never pushed them away from the mas. We really want to show people you don’t have to be in a panty with stones on it and you could sit down and work your mas from scratch, decorate your thing and let people look nice and feel pretty and proud to come out and play mas. The creations are very powerful, so I hope Trinidadians appreciate what we are bringing to our culture to try and bring back the mas in this way.”
Leeann said the prices are reasonable, with all children’s costumes priced at $700 and adult costumes starting at $1,500 for backline and $2,500 for frontline. “If you want any additional pieces added, that’s your choice. We cater for people who want to do panty and bra, whole suits, long pants, small size, plus size, there are different undergarments and we customize the costume to fit you.”
Leeann’s daughter Allendra, who has been playing mas all her life, and making it since the age of 15, said she has been designing, drawing, constructing, sewing and wirebending, having learned a lot from her grandfather Albert.
“A lot of things have changed in Carnival over the years. The inspiration for my sections came from the movie Black Panther, as well as research, talking to Granddad about his experiences, watching anime, etc. I’m very happy I got to choose colours, materials, tones, textures that will bring out the beauty and art in mas. For the kiddies, we chose the name Black is Beautiful because I look at African art in a different aspect, and you see different patterns, different designs, different faces, that represent many African tribes. I’m very excited to see what this year brings to us and I hope it will be the best yet.”
Along with the other members of his family, Albert decried the trend towards nakedness in current Carnival, although he acknowledged that that might be what people want. “I’d like to see more ingenuity and more work going into Carnival. If they want, they can go back to the books and let’s bring back history as it was, with our today flavour, just as how they’re taking soca and mixing it with reggae. I don’t want our Carnival to to go like St. Thomas or St. Croix. Their Carnival is dying and I keep hearing our Carnival is dying too, I wouldn’t like that. I’ve travelled all over the world, and seen our Carnival and I know it doesn’t have this. We must be careful not to lose that. Our life is in Carnival, we’re in the mecca right now.”
Alvin said he was especially proud to see his children and grandchildren involved in bringing Bailey mas back. “I am prepared to be the consultant, any problem they are in, I’ll help them. That’s my life now in Carnival and all the youths in Trinidad, if they’re interested in Carnival, I’m prepared to talk to them. This year, my granddaughter she decided she would do an African theme, it’s a nice way to start, and if they’re going that way, I am the one that is going to push them. I think they will see Bailey again on the road and that should be good, a pure Bailey finish was lacking a couple years now. I was here when it started and I’m here when it’s finishing, you don’t feel no how, we will be for you.”
For more information, find Bailey Dynasty Mas on Facebook, email firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the mas camp.