Archive for the ‘Trinidad Carnival `07’ Category

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Trinidad Carnival Summary

February 25, 2007

Due to the exhausting rock and roll of carnival and the fact that the neurotic Woody Allenesque houseguest that was also staying with my homegirl in Trinidad was OCD about being the computer and uploading pictures I didn´t have too much computer time. This is so unfortunate since Carnival and my experience in Trinidad was so blog worthy but I will do my best to summarize.

First off lets start off with Carnival vocabulary:

Fete–outdoor concert/party where a variety of Soca artist perform the current Soca songs of the season. Thousands of people are usually present at these parties and they usually take place in a stadium, a field, or any space that can accomadate a stage and thousands of soused Carnivalers wining and jumping and dancing. They usually start somewhere around 9 or 10pm and go until at least 4am but the closer to Carnival Monday and Tuesday the later they last… sometimes until noon the next day.

“Playing Mas”— When you play mas, it means you are a going to be one of the thousands of masqueraders on the streets on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. When you play mas, you pick a band, and then you pick the particular section of the band that you want to be in. Each section is put out by different people so each section has different costumes. A band can be as small as a few hundred or many thousands. The band that used to be the largest is the one I played in the first time I came to Trinidad was Poison, but as of this year Poison disbanded and so each section had to split off into smaller bands or create their own.

“on the road” — refers to when you are playing mas Carnival Monday and Tuesday.  So when say “I need new shoes fa de road”, they need new shoes for playing mas in Carnival.

So basically, Carnival is a season to Trinidadians. Officially it starts right after new years, but unofficially the country starts gearing up for it in August. My carnival experiences have pretty much consisted of going to fetes and just enjoying all the splendor of the country while waiting for Carnival Monday and Tuesday to arrive.

From an outsiders prospective, Carnival is celebration of music, life, and mostly…….. women. For those of you unfamiliar with the roots of Carnival/Mardi Gras celebrations around the globe here is a short synopsis. During slavery times, these were the two days out of the year where slaves were allowed a temporary freedom of sorts. They would dress up and mimic those that claimed ownership over them while incorporating traditional African symbols and rites such as feathers, mask, music, etc. It was the two days out of the year that most lived for, and after slavery was abolished in various parts of the world Carnival celebrations everywhere took on their own life. You usually find these celebrations in parts of the world where Catholic (usually French or Spanish) settlers owned slaves as Carnival Monday and Tuesday mark the two days that precede the Wed before Lent. ………. In short Carnival is about creating as much foolishness and bacchanal as possible before Lent comes.

Remember the scene in the Ten Commandments where after Moses (aka NRA spokesman Charles Heston) comes down from Mt. Sinai with the two tablets ready to show his people what God has given him……only to find that they are partying, drinking wine in excess, and are worshiping the golden ox idol they created? That´s Carnival. Maybe thats not the best example to give seeing how its supposed to be such a terrible ¨sinful¨scene, but when you look around during a fete or anytime during Carnival for that matter you can´t help but make the comparison. However, instead of men worshiping a golden ox they´ve created, the object of worship is women and more specifically the female form. The spirit of Carnival gives an anything goes, people swinging from the rooftops, good rum freely flowing, intoxicating music playing, life is so damn good I just want to make love to the Earth kind of feeling. To outsiders Carnival probably just looks like a sinful party of drunks, but only those who have never experienced it, because Carnival is the closest thing to heaven on earth that a personal could ever experience.