Dean and his Tribe
Dean Ackin sits at the bar table at the Tribe house on Rosalino Street eating cinnamon almonds. he is remarkably calm. Remarkable because in six weeks the culmination of efforts of the Tribe family will come to fruition on the two days of Carnival. Ackin and his team are in the business of creating fun. Using his business background he has been able to take a section called Pleasures Carnival and transform it into mega band Tribe. It all began when his wife was given the opportunity to have a section in the popular mas band Poison.
The first year as Pleasures Carnival was very successful and the following year saw an exponential increase in masqueraders. At this juncture it was realised that the section once tweaked would be able to stand-alone. Beautiful costume designs, all-inclusive food and drinks, tight security and the feel good energy that flowed from the band strengthened their position in the Carnival arena and by 2005 saw the emergence of Tribe.
The name represents the common interest that masqueraders share which is having fun under the sun. The band is famous for integrating historical and contemporary elements into its costumes while always maintaining a use of vibrant colour. The 2005 marrying of traditional Native American and pretty mas concepts was highly successful and even veteran mas man Peter Minshall was said to be impressed. “Getting T&T Carnival on the map is my goal and adding to brand T&T is what we at Tribe are doing,” said Ackin.
He stresses that the success of Tribe is a direct result of a solid team working together. “Each aspect of our team is strong and our ability to work together makes us a formidable unit.” The portfolio of bandleader and managing director of Tribe is a year round job. Of course there is some rest time for about two months after Ash Wednesday. While the entire organisation rests immediately after Carnival, the designers are busy at work hashing band themes, researching concepts and sourcing material for costume prototypes. By May or June all designs completed and awaiting approval. Once the costumes are approved it’s on to the photo shoots where ideas, skill and hard work are captured and placed on the Tribe website.
By July, it’s time for the always-anticipated band launch which has grown in popularity and signals the reformation of the tribe. Registration begins in August and in a matter of weeks the band is sold out. From September to January the production of costumes takes place and then in February it’s Carnival all over again. Despite all the demands of his job, Ackin still finds the time to play sports. He is an active football, cricket, tennis and badminton player. He hopes that one day he will able to get into boating as he finds the sea relaxing and wants to spend time there with his family and close friends. “There are many sides of life, physical, spiritual and marriage…there must be a balance for these aspects to exist successfully,” said Ackin.
When asked about the outsourcing of costumes to meet the bands needs Ackin said,“While we utilise many local craftsmen during the Carnival season, the fact still remains that there simply aren’t enough to manage our demand. Also, gone are the days when a Carnival masquerader would accept a flawed costume in the spirit bacchanal. When people pay their money they expect a solid product and that is what we do and intend to keep doing. When it comes to reliability and design accuracy, outsourcing serves its purpose,” said Ackin.