They came in the thousands. Party
revellers of every kind wearing beads and masks, furry scarves and glittery eye
make-up. Some had their faces painted every colour imaginable while behind sparkling
lips bellowed the words “Mardi Gras baby – lets party!”
Before noon on Wednesday hordes of
tourists and locals made their way from Seven Mile and East End, George Town
and West Bay, descending on one of Cayman’s biggest and most extravagant annual
parties – Mardi Gras at Kaibo 2010.
Every year Kaibo has been the
hottest venue for the Caribbean’s biggest Mardi Gras party. Its location alone
oozes an air of tropical tranquillity, an isolated haven removed from the
clutches of society and the hustle and bustle of the Seven Mile strip though
for 12 hours once a year it abandons its peaceful norm and transforms into one
Six bars had been constructed to
serve the masses; everything from mojito’s to mudslides, a stage to host both
native and international acts, ferries and buses assigned to ship partygoers in
from Safehaven and Rum Point, sponsors, a VIP section, beads, security, sound
systems and DJ’s; all and everything had been planned for 12 of hours of
Each year Kaibo’s Mardi Gras hosts
a theme and this year was no different with the Wizard of Oz “Wicked” theme
inspiring the organiser’s imagination. A mudslide tent had been erected in
honour of Lions courage, a Scarecrow beach shack to serve lager and spirits, a
Tin Man Mojito tent to dish out fine Caribbean rum and a Wicked main bar to
play central stage. Upstairs, meanwhile, was transformed into the Emerald City,
laden in drapes of green velvet, aluminous lighting and mysterious décor, all
designed to reflect “Wicked’s” aura of enchantment.
As VIP’s began to throw dozens of
multicoloured beads from the balcony, Clare Pettinati, owner and co-manager of
Kaibo, laughed and explained, “I can’t believe it’s into its 11th year. We’ve
just gone from strength to strength.”
Why the annual theme?
“Well we just wanted to inspire
people’s imagination, to have one big party here on Cayman where everyone and
anyone can just dress up and have fun. The VIP section was created to re-enact
the New Orleans theme of bead throwing and it’s just been brilliant; so much
Below on the beach crowds began to
make their way through the security fencing, a first for Kaibo in the face of
rising crime on Cayman and insistence by the owners and organisers of ensuring
a “fun, friendly and safe environment for all patrons.”
At one o’ clock Mc Jason Howard was
greeted by cheers from the crowd as he introduced the opening act – Cayman band
High Tide. A mixture of their own melodic tunes and popular Caribbean music
filled the air while onlookers snacked on traditional Caribbean food served
from the outside Cabana-style restaurant.
“It’s such a great day,” said Vicky
from England as her eight-year-old son Tom attempted to catch beads from the
balcony above. “It’s our first time on Grand Cayman. We didn’t even know this
was on until yesterday. We just got the boat over from Safehaven and arrived on
this beach and this is going on. It’s really unbelievable”.
As High Tide gave way to local girl
and international performer Crystal, the party buzz got into full swing. A
Jagermeister ‘Shot Girl’ meandered through the masses while almost 30 bartenders
served drinks of every kind to party-goers. Behind the main bar, Mia from Canada,
dressed head to toe as the Wizard of Oz’s Cowardly Lion, poured a rum and coke
for a parched reveller.
“It’s always been interesting to say the
least! she yelled over the crowd. “This is my fourth year and to say I’ve seen
a thing or two would be an understatement. It’s hard work but it’s a lot of fun
too. Sometimes I feel like I should wear a helmet behind here but I do it every
year. I don’t know, I guess it’s just too much fun to miss!”
Live band Sweet Elite replaced
Crystal on centre stage and as the sun set and the crowd’s enthusiasm rose
climactically a potent mixture of alcohol, fun and entertainment engulfed the
crowd as all senses of norm and proper fell to the allure of Mardi Gras
hedonism; like the elite of New Orleans past the wearing of masks enabled
freedom and triggered mischief, whereby common norms and values, restrictive in
their everyday structure, went out the window like the beads that followed them.
“I haven’t had this much fun since my hen
party,” said Melissa from California as she covered herself in another layer of
purple and green beads. “I can’t even tell you where my husband is. He’s gone
off in some mask!”
By midnight the music wound down,
the crowds dispersed and the last ferries were called. Revellers, exhausted
from the day, yet smiling and content, stumbled their way up the Kaibo dock.
Eleven years of Mardi Gras at Kaibo. From themes of Love generation to Casino
Royale, Rio Carnival to this year’s Wizard of Oz. What will next year bring?
God only knows. One thing’s for sure though – It’ll be one hell of a party.