In the Caribbean, the word "tabanca" means missing someone or something very badly. Jamaica Carnival 2023 has come and gone, and now the fond memories of the vibrant colors, beautiful costumes, infectious music, dancing, and stimulating atmosphere have us in a state of…tabanca….'"Carnival tabanca," that is.
On April 16, 2023, the streets of Kingston were awash with masqueraders in gorgeous costumes, wining to soca music and reveling in the elation that only Carnival can bring.
EBONY, in partnership with United Airlines and Carnival band Gen XS, curated an experience for a select group of celebrities and influencers including actor Shameik Moore, model and beauty entrepreneur Winnie Harlow, R&B sensation Omarion, media personality Scottie Beam, comedian Jessie Woo, influencer Supa Cent, and many others for a spectacular all-inclusive extravaganza on the road.
Of how the partnership came together GenXS director Ajene Green said, “EBONY was looking for a marquee moment and a bold partner to plant the seeds for their EBONY Caribbean initiative. They believed Carnival in Jamaica was the perfect platform to do so. And after researching the bands, they were excited about GenXS based on the brand’s positioning as disrupters and the team’s track record in Miami. Once the teams met we fell in love and the rest is history.”
As the sun beamed, bold and intricately designed costumes adorned with feathers, sequins, and sparkling crystals, that embodied the bands theme “Sunken Treasures," dazzled the morning. The energy was palpable and the air was thick with excitement as revelers eagerly awaited the start of the march.
Then it was go time! Chippin’ down the road as the sun moved higher in the sky, so did the excitement. The band, filled with carnival-goers, made its way through the streets, and all joined in the frenzy of dancing, jumping and singing. It can only be described as a beautiful chaos with people from all ages, backgrounds and cultures, all coming together to celebrate the bliss that is Carnival.
Singer Omarion. Image: courtesy of GenXS.
Music is the core of Carnival. The rhythmic sounds of the beats had everyone moving and caught up in the spirit. Bacchanalists could feel the soca tunes in their chest as it blasted from the speakers on the trucks that were interspersed throughout the band, and DJs such as Patrick "The Hypeman'" Anthony excited the crowd with his contagious energy.
Omarion and his brother O’Ryan danced without inhibition, as Harlem actresses Shoniqua Shandai and Jerrie Johnson blended into the scene and showed off their wining skills. Winnie Harlow made the streets her runway strutting and dancing on rhythm, and an exhilarated Jessie Woo basked in merriment.
What made the GenXS experience different from other bands? “Honestly, I think our major point of differentiation lies simply in execution. Our intention every year is to provide the best experience not only to all carnival goers but all of our sponsors, vendors and partners. So this means, the best web experience, best customer service, best distribution process, best costumes, best road experience, best fetes and so on. At the end of the day, we truly believe that there is a huge opportunity for all of Jamaica to raise the level of our Carnival beyond anything we’ve ever done before,” said Green.
Model Winnie Harlow. Image: courtesy of GenXS.
As the day wore on, and with the lunch stop complete, the energy never waned. Carnival-goers refused to let the heat change the vibe, and they continued to dance and jump for hours, refueling themselves with rum and water, while being fully immersed in the experience. When it was all said and done, while feet were tired and exhaustion started to show on some, many remained exhilarated, with memories of a day filled with fun, sun and Carnival jubilation.
“The team is so pleased with how things turned out this season. The support from our masqueraders who hail from all over the world, our sponsors, our vendors, and Jamaica, on a whole, was just incredible. The vibes on the road and at our fetes were just amazing,” said Green
Jamaica Carnival 2023 was an epic celebration of the resilience, vibrancy, love and diversity of Jamaican culture. It was also a reminder that no matter the challenges, people from all walks of life can unite, and have a grand time while finding connection through music, dance and feting. As we look forward to Carnival 2024, the hope is that it will be as extraordinary and unforgettable as this one.