Style Observer

On The Savannah Grass with... Michael Ammar III co-director of Bacchanal Jamaica

Sunday, March 24, 2019

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My earliest memory of Carnival... would have to be the original carnival in Jamaica: Oakridge Carnival. We used to have a team of about 10 to 15 of my parents' friends on our front porch making every costume by hand. That's how it was back in those days. Glitter and sequins all over the house for weeks! We also used to run the costume distribution for Oakridge Carnival out of our front door.


From then to now... Carnival was never a “Trini thing” or a “Brazilian thing”. I literally grew up in Carnival. From being pushed in a stroller to sitting on my dad's shoulders at three years old, Carnival has always been a way of life. Because of this, Carnival means so much more to me than just going out to fete and drink. Carnival feels like home for me, a natural habitat, where everyone can spread love and have the best time of their lives.


Bacchanal's success formula, I reckon, is ... the new events like Rum For Breakfast (RFB) and Bacchanal and Dancehall, which everyone loves and supports. We've also fine-tuned our signature events, Bacchanal Beach Jouvert and Bacchanal Jouvert. These two parties, more than ever, allow everyone to let their hair down and fete all night instead of standing up and posing for the cameras non-stop. Along with the addition of our new events, it's the top-quality service and execution of our shows which continues to bring revellers back to our events.

Plus, as more and more people have joined in the Carnival festivities - whether it be a fete, jouvert, or on the road – they have come to learn and love it just as we do. The colours, the costumes, the music, and most importantly, the vibes. Carnival is all about love and fun and that's what people have caught on to.


We've played our part by... introducing the biggest and best DJs and bands/artistes from all over the world to Jamaica to give our patrons the best show possible. Bacchanal invented Beach Jouvert, a daytime jouvert that was unheard of and considered sacrilege by hardcore socaphiles in Trinidad. But look at what has happened! It's one of the biggest events year round in Jamaica, and now there's even two that I know of held in Trinidad!

We've brought the vibes, the bands, the high quality everyone expects on the road, and fetes, and we've done our best to share and spread Carnival to as many people in Jamaica, to grow it to what carnival is today, one of if not the biggest party seasons for the year attracting thousands of people locally and overseas.


On refreshing the brand... Bacchanal has been around for almost 30 years and has built carnival in Jamaica to what it is now — one of the highest-rated Carnivals in the world. Building off of the experience and guidance from the directors, Nicholas Franklin, Matthew Khoury and I have really tried our best to breathe new life into Bacchanal. We've all worked together to introduce RFB, and Bacchanal and Dancehall, and to create other new fetes and experiences for the Bacchanal family.


Bacchanal Jamaica's RFB (Rum for Breakfast) has truly resonated with socaphiles. Indeed, it has spawned The Jamaica Rum Festival. What can patrons look forward to this year?

RFB has become a staple for Carnival in Jamaica and for good reason. What we tried and succeeded in doing was to have a breakfast fete that is only about feteing and having a good time, not posing for pictures and taking selfies all day. Carnival is about being in that present moment and enjoying the fete, and that's what we did with RFB.

We're bringing the top DJs from around the world and locally to put on an unforgettable breakfast party. With DJ Cruise, Kevin Crown and Patrick the Hypeman, patrons won't be able to stand still. We're also adding extra bar space and adding even more food selections for all cravings.


The one song guaranteed to elicit a smile... Savannah Grass by Kes. Although the song came second for Road March in Trinidad this year, I knew it would be a hit from the first time I heard it. It's the type of song that you can listen to over and over, jump up and down and chip down the road singing your heart out. Savannah Grass really does the best job of bringing you to that happy place, dreaming of yourself on the road in costume, and brings back years of memories while, at the same time, making you overly excited to make countless more.


Others include...

Nailah Blackman — Iron Love

Farmer Nappy — Hookin' Meh

Erphaan Alves — No Habla

Machel — The Road

Kerwin Du Bois — Soca Demon


Las' Lap... Like everything else, Bacchanal has had to adapt to new markets and cultures, and set the pace for a new era of Carnival in Jamaica. Bacchanal is Carnival in Jamaica, and this year we've completely flipped the script to bring completely new and exciting fetes and products to Jamaica. RFB and Bacchanal and Dancehall have been huge successes, and we've revamped Bacchanal Jouvert and Bacchanal Beach Jouvert to bring all new 'wow' factors to the patrons. Each fete has been carefully reconstructed and amplified to give everyone the best they can get, and continue to spread our love for Carnival.

New venues, artistes and a brand-new Bacchanal. I can promise that every fete, and especially the road march, is going to be unforgettable.

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