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Charlotte Amalie
Wednesday, May 25, 2022
HomeNewsArchivesIT'S CARNIVAL COSTUME COUNTDOWN TIME

IT'S CARNIVAL COSTUME COUNTDOWN TIME

Saturday, May 6, is the big day. Sometime between 9 a.m. and noon is the time. The Carnival Y2K Adults Parade is the event. Will you have your costume ready?
It's a question thousands of troupe, floupe and float leaders and members are asking one another right about now — the same question they ask this time every year. The answer is one that is months in the making. . .
For 31 years I have been building costumes and coming down the road with the Gypsy Troupe. In February, we began planning for this year's parade. We watched videos, studied pictures and racked our brains for costume ideas that would showcase our talents, celebrate our new millennium, and somehow relate to the V.I. Carnival Committee's chosen theme: "Jump Up and Sway, It's Carnival for Y2K."
Variations on the theme
After several weeks of evaluating ideas, rendering possible costumes and discussing construction techniques, we chose a general costume. I use the term "general costume" because many factors invariably influence the evolution of the outfit from idea to reality. There is the challenge of actually fabricating the costume. Almost anything can be built. The challenge is to find affordable techniques that the average troupe member can apply. Other major considerations are the availability and price of materials. Additional factors include personal preferences and unanticipated opportunities.
Consider my experience in developing the Gypsy Troupe's 1969 Adam and Eve costume. The basic get-up was a tan body stocking with strategically affixed green lamé leaves. A sizable number of troupe members were uncomfortable about revealing even the outer contours of their physiology to the public in a body stocking. Enter the "apple tree" option, replete with jewelry for those so inclined.
Then there was the year that we came down the road as computers. The basic costume was a cardboard washing machine, dryer, TV, stove or refrigerator box decorated to resemble a mainframe computer (this was before the era of PC's). It turned out that a sizable group in the troupe felt the costume wasn't fancy enough and didn't allow for adequate personal body language. Enter the "computer repair person" wearing a silver lamé jumpsuit and carrying assorted items of testing gear.
Often a concept costume's support mechanisms prove to be too fragile, heavy, costly or difficult to fabricate — unless you are lucky enough to have specialists. Within the Gypsy troupe, Andy Bornn was known as the "wire bender par excellence." Phillip Corneiro has been an ever-ready source of mechanical expertise. Their apprentices, Tony Boschulte and Enrique Richards, are the current Gypsy gurus — always available to pioneer new processes and teach the finer aspects of bending, gluing and tacking to their fellow troupers.
On with the sew
Once costume construction begins, it progresses slowly as materials are assembled and bold members begin to experiment with innovative construction methods. This year, each member of the troupe will carry a "fireworks display." Each display takes a plastic pipe with a fitting that holds an array of stars pasted to plastic strips. It was no problem to purchase the plastic pipes, and we unquestioningly ordered the starburst arrays. What we hadn't anticipated was the variety in plastic fittings and the difficulty in finding so many of the one particular style we had thought was universal.
Day labor, night labor: Whenever two or more can gather together (and sometimes even alone), the costume-makers work to get the outfits ready. Virgin Islanders returning home for Carnival are readily enlisted, along with anyone else who can contribute. They may find themselves assigned to be shoe spray technicians, starburst array tapers and setters, skirt-fringe gluers or acetate fabric cutters.
And, of course, some of any troupe's most important contributors are the glitterati. These are the creative souls who can spread glue or spray adhesive, then sprinkle glitter without becoming a living, barely-breathing glob of glitter themselves.
It's count-down time, and work for most troupes is approaching fever pitch. Will we have our costumes ready? On Saturday, May 6, see for yourselves, on Kronprindsens Gade, Dronningens Gade, Norre Gade and Hospital Gade. We be ready for jammin'.

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Saturday, May 6, is the big day. Sometime between 9 a.m. and noon is the time. The Carnival Y2K Adults Parade is the event. Will you have your costume ready?
It's a question thousands of troupe, floupe and float leaders and members are asking one another right about now -- the same question they ask this time every year. The answer is one that is months in the making. . .
For 31 years I have been building costumes and coming down the road with the Gypsy Troupe. In February, we began planning for this year's parade. We watched videos, studied pictures and racked our brains for costume ideas that would showcase our talents, celebrate our new millennium, and somehow relate to the V.I. Carnival Committee's chosen theme: "Jump Up and Sway, It's Carnival for Y2K."
Variations on the theme
After several weeks of evaluating ideas, rendering possible costumes and discussing construction techniques, we chose a general costume. I use the term "general costume" because many factors invariably influence the evolution of the outfit from idea to reality. There is the challenge of actually fabricating the costume. Almost anything can be built. The challenge is to find affordable techniques that the average troupe member can apply. Other major considerations are the availability and price of materials. Additional factors include personal preferences and unanticipated opportunities.
Consider my experience in developing the Gypsy Troupe's 1969 Adam and Eve costume. The basic get-up was a tan body stocking with strategically affixed green lamé leaves. A sizable number of troupe members were uncomfortable about revealing even the outer contours of their physiology to the public in a body stocking. Enter the "apple tree" option, replete with jewelry for those so inclined.
Then there was the year that we came down the road as computers. The basic costume was a cardboard washing machine, dryer, TV, stove or refrigerator box decorated to resemble a mainframe computer (this was before the era of PC's). It turned out that a sizable group in the troupe felt the costume wasn't fancy enough and didn't allow for adequate personal body language. Enter the "computer repair person" wearing a silver lamé jumpsuit and carrying assorted items of testing gear.
Often a concept costume's support mechanisms prove to be too fragile, heavy, costly or difficult to fabricate -- unless you are lucky enough to have specialists. Within the Gypsy troupe, Andy Bornn was known as the "wire bender par excellence." Phillip Corneiro has been an ever-ready source of mechanical expertise. Their apprentices, Tony Boschulte and Enrique Richards, are the current Gypsy gurus -- always available to pioneer new processes and teach the finer aspects of bending, gluing and tacking to their fellow troupers.
On with the sew
Once costume construction begins, it progresses slowly as materials are assembled and bold members begin to experiment with innovative construction methods. This year, each member of the troupe will carry a "fireworks display." Each display takes a plastic pipe with a fitting that holds an array of stars pasted to plastic strips. It was no problem to purchase the plastic pipes, and we unquestioningly ordered the starburst arrays. What we hadn't anticipated was the variety in plastic fittings and the difficulty in finding so many of the one particular style we had thought was universal.
Day labor, night labor: Whenever two or more can gather together (and sometimes even alone), the costume-makers work to get the outfits ready. Virgin Islanders returning home for Carnival are readily enlisted, along with anyone else who can contribute. They may find themselves assigned to be shoe spray technicians, starburst array tapers and setters, skirt-fringe gluers or acetate fabric cutters.
And, of course, some of any troupe's most important contributors are the glitterati. These are the creative souls who can spread glue or spray adhesive, then sprinkle glitter without becoming a living, barely-breathing glob of glitter themselves.
It's count-down time, and work for most troupes is approaching fever pitch. Will we have our costumes ready? On Saturday, May 6, see for yourselves, on Kronprindsens Gade, Dronningens Gade, Norre Gade and Hospital Gade. We be ready for jammin'.