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Kadooment 2018 – Part 2

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Ellis Reid, affectionately known as Uncle Ellis to his fans and supporters, is a name that has left the shores of Trinidad & Tobago and travelled not just regionally, but internationally too. Team Zulu got a moment to catch up with Uncle Ellis before making his way to Barbados for our band launch this Friday.

1. What was your life like before becoming this new Internet sensation?
Before becoming famous internationally I was already well known in the Port-of-Spain area where I sold newspapers and danced on a daily basis. This opportunity opened the door to showcase my dancing from on the streets to stages in different countries.

2. How did the dancing start?
The dancing came about from my love of music and expressing myself through different genres. I started off in the Belmont area, where I would go to bars and different liming spots and just “free up”.

3. Is it strange that you’ve gone viral? That people know who you are, not just in Trinidad?
I know this would have happened because almost everyday Dion [my manager] would come and record my dancing for the internet. I knew he was very well known and talented when it came to that. He showed me the different videos and we would go through the comments and try coming up with different ideas (like songs to dance to).

4. Any plans to do more travelling on an international level?
Yes definitely. We received numerous calls for appearances in Canada, USA and London which we are currently working on. I’m already booked for St. Lucia, Grenada and Guyana later on in summer. So this year should be very interesting.

5. Where would you most like to travel?
Any country that I’ve never been to, I’m always glad to see. I also love beaches, so anywhere in the Caribbean is wonderful.

6. Team Zulu also chatted with Uncle Ellis’ manager, Dion Gomez and had to find out what it’s been like managing Uncle Ellis.
It’s been a great experience thus far, especially knowing that I’m also helping someone at the same time. For a long time I knew this fame would come his way and I’m glad that he trusted and believed in me to make big things happen. He’s a very humble individual and lots of blessings are still to come his way.

Zulu Connect: Meet the man with the moves Uncle Ellis; joining Zulu International Inc. in Barbados for the Band Launch of Apocalypto; Crop Over 2016

7. How excited are you for Zulu International Inc.’s band launch on Friday?
I’m very excited to see the Barbados as it’s my first time travelling out of Trinidad & Tobago. I’m gonna have the whole of Barbados rockin’ this Friday at the band launch.

8. What’s your favourite non-dance activity or hobby?
I’m not a big swimmer but I love the water, whether it’s the pool or beach I enjoy bathing in the shallow, LOL.

9. What’s your idea of relaxation?
My idea of relaxation is rocking back and watching movies. I do this a lot lately when I’m not dancing or making a video.

10. What’s planned for the future?
For the future, I’m working on my Uncle Ellis clothing line and I’m also working on collaborating with huge stars internationally from music, film and modelling. I also got something big for my fans later on this year and I’m going to continue to strive to reach higher. Thanks to all my fans worldwide for their continued support and encouragement to work harder.

Don’t forget, Uncle Ellis will be at Zulu’s band launch this Friday, April 22. Doors open at 9:00pm at the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre. Tickets are available from TicketNation.bb or you can pay at the door.

 

Follow Uncle Ellis on social media!
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Barbados is the sort of Caribbean island that continually bares its colonial heritage at every turn. Take a look at Bridgetown: its chock full of historic buildings and structures, including the Parliament building – the third oldest parliament in the entire Commonwealth. It’s the perfect embodiment of that prim and proper British vibe that the island’s known for.

Except when Crop Over season starts. Then all bets are off the table.

Crop Over is the single greatest festival celebrated in Barbadian history. A festival that marks the end of the sugar cane harvest with a sea of scantily dressed men and women, soca music blaring from huge speakers on top of trucks and an endless supply of alcohol.

Ask a Bajan what they love about Crop Over and we guarantee you’ll hear one of these reasons.

THE MUSIC
Whether it’s calypso or soca from Trinidad, Grenada or home grown right here in Barbados, you’ll be hearing all the songs to get you moving. Whether you’re stuck in the middle that horrendous morning traffic, or getting on dibby in the fetes – you can’t escape that sweet soca sound. Speaking of fetes…

FETE AFTER FETE AFTER FETE
There are so many fetes leading up to and during the Crop Over season. You might want to give your bank account a break and not attend every single one though. You still have a costume to purchase, remember? There are, however, a select few that deserve a repeat appearance every year and are always worth it.

FOREDAY MORNING JAM
What’s Crop Over without experiencing Foreday Morning? It’s a cooler alternative to Kadooment’s sometimes blazing heat, and it’s not as harsh on the pockets either. But be warned – Foreday isn’t for posing – if you’re going to jump then come prepared to get absolutely filthy. No one is safe when everyone is armed with paint, powder and mud.

Zulu Connect: Why We Love Crop Over

BOUT DEM COSTUMES THOUGH
What more can we say? We love seeing the vivid colours, the feathers, the jewels, the headpieces, the new and fresh designs that leave us with our jaws on the floor. And let’s not talk about the anticipation the bands keep us in before the big launch – barely teasing us with quick behind-the-scenes snaps on social media that leave us wanting more. The entire process – from the moment you see the costumes, deciding which one you’re going to choose, paying that first down payment, to collection and wearing it on the road – it’s all worth it.

CELEBRATING BAJAN CULTURE
First celebrated in the 18th century to mark the end of the sugar cane harvest, the festival was suspended in the 40s in light of World War II. However, the then Barbados Tourism Authority saw its revival in 1974 and the festival and its traditions have continued ever since. Looking back, Crop Over has definitely come a long way from what it used to be. While it may have evolved into a wild costumed event, Crop Over still maintains many of its cultural traditions such as the ceremonial receiving of the last canes, the crowning of the King and Queen of the crop, Bridgetown Market and more. Bajans are proud to call this festival our own, and even though our Caribbean neighbours join us for these festivities, Crop Over is and will always be uniquely Barbadian.

MEGA MONDAY, WE READY!
The countdown’s over. The big day is finally here. You’re up at 4 or 5am getting your face bedazzled or trying to figure out where you put the armbands to your costume. Either way your time to shine has arrived. Putting on your costume, parading across the National Stadium, chipping towards Spring Garden, tiefing a wine or ten (or more), scaling a wall, gorging on premium drinks and good food – this is but a sampling of the shenanigans that will occur on this glorious day.

Zulu Connect: Why We Love Crop Over

WITH FRIENDS LIKE THESE…
It’s the biggest party of the year and you and your friends will be OUT. TUH. ALL. Whether it’s at cooler fetes, Foreday Morning or Kadooment, these are the moments that will create memories for a lifetime. Unless you’re too drunk to remember anything. Not to worry though, every group always has that one friend that will be ready to show you all photographic and video evidence of your debauchery.

CHECK YOUR INHIBITIONS AT THE DOOR
It doesn’t matter who you are, where you live, where you work or how much money you make – Crop Over is for everyone. It’s that one time where you can check your inhibitions at the door and really let loose on the streets and enjoy yourself.

Of all the songs to choose from to end this post with, we’ll leave you with Imani’s Fire Meh, because at some point we’re pretty sure you wanted to tell this to your boss. THAT is much we love Crop Over.

“WHEN WE TOUCH DOWN, DE WHOLE PLACE SHELL DOWN.”

Get ready Zulu Nation, because that’s what Zulu International Inc. has in store for Crop Over 2016.

Riding the mind-blowing wave that was Crop Over 2015, we’re looking to seriously shake things up this year at Zulu. After the long-awaited release of our theme “APOCALYPTO”, we’ve been receiving awesome feedback from our past revellers, and from those who are looking to get their feet wet with their first Barbados Crop Over experience.

With band launch season fast approaching, Team Zulu is ecstatic to share another major announcement – welcome the newest member to our already dynamic team, Head Designer Valmiki Maharaj.

Hailing from the twin island of Trinidad & Tobago, Val Maharaj comes to Zulu International Inc. right off the heels of Carnival. Val has been designing for the past seven years, and it was in 2009 when he first got involved with the band Tribe Carnival. It was also around that time that Tribe started to reinvigorate itself. “Everything was changing,” Val said, “and the fact that they were celebrating their fifth year on the road was a big opportunity to be a part of that team.”

Tribe’s theme that year was called ‘Birds of a Feather’ and Val tapped into his creative consciousness in order to breathe life into two individual costumes. “I still remember them, and I still have a relationship with the people who played Mas in them, after all these years,” Val said as he reminisced. “It was an absolute great experience. I remember seeing them on stage – it was my first band launch – and I was so excited, and I wanted to collapse because I was working so hard that day. I was working on my own costumes and the production itself. It was just a great experience.”

Val recapped the story of how he applied to Tribe, very informally, with his A-level portfolio. “I kind of found my tribe with Tribe, no pun intended,” Val said laughing. “I found a family that was very inviting, and who I maintained a relationship with over a number of years.” During his final year at University, Val received a call that would change his life, and as they say, the rest was history.

Val added that after many years he feels blessed to be doing very well. Not only Zulu Connect: Meet Zulu's New Head Designer: Valmiki Maharaj, Zulu International Inc, Barbados, Crop Over 2016, Premium Crop Over Band Experiencehas he been successful, but he’s also created a kind of validity for himself as a designer, and gained the approval of his peers. In terms of Val’s family and friends, he said that he doesn’t receive anything but love and support all around in every single thing that he does.

As one of Tribe and Bliss’ principal designers, he was also the Creative Director for one of his biggest achievements to date – the launch of The Lost Tribe – Tribe’s second and more intimate all-inclusive Carnival experience.

It was also his most difficult project. “The Lost Tribe totally moved away from what we normally see at Carnival. I wanted to see masquerade the way our parents and their parents knew it – with the presentation, drama and flair. I was trying to take something that some people had considered dead, not fashionable and not now, and make it now. Some people don’t know what they want until you show them. So as the old adage goes ‘if you build it, they will come.’”

And they did come.

“I’m proud of it,” Val professed. “Proud of the masqueraders, proud of the entire team, and proud that in a very short space of time, a few months even, we were able to pull it all together. From conceptualization right down to providing a fun experience on the road for the masqueraders.”

Now that Carnival’s over, Valmiki is on the road to Barbados for Crop Over 2016 – full speed ahead. He’s expressed great enthusiasm on working with Barbados’ premium band experience, Zulu International Inc. After many conversations with our team, Val expressed that as “a man who operates on vibes, I got great vibes from Zulu and have received nothing but since.”

Eager about this new venture, Val is excited to start putting together the designs for Zulu’s Apocalypto theme. When asked what inspires him, he replied that there’s no one space for inspiration. “It comes from everywhere – from traveling… reading… the Internet. My greatest source however, is from Carnival. I’m inspired by the masqueraders, the movement, the music and the environment. And then of course, there’s the band’s theme which gives me an overall vision and direction.”

Val is also hoping to bring ‘a little bit of Val’ to Zulu this year. “I want to bring my design style. I want to bring something new to the design table. I know that Zulu is the cream of the crop when it comes to party bands and road experience in Barbados and it’s the place to play Mas. I’m hoping to be able to add something to that, to raise the bar and raise the Crop Over costume standard further then we had in the past.”

We want it known that our new Head Designer isn’t the only one thrilled about this journey. We want everyone, before, during and even long after the Crop Over has finished, to be talking about the Fun Band – Zulu International Inc. We want to exceed the expectations of our patrons – not just with our costumes, but with the overall experience during the festival season. With a creative genius like Valmiki Maharaj representing Team Zulu, Zulu International Inc. is going to up the ante for Barbados Crop Over 2016.

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