|photo credit – trinidadcarnivals.com-
Carnival is here! Where else in the world can one experience this splendour? Although I must admit that I am not a big ‘mas aficianado I do appreciate our culture greatly. I think it came to me in a dream while fighting sleep somewhere in the wee hours of this morning after the struggle to watch both Dimanche Gras’, the Grammy Awards and stay up for J’ouvet that Trinidad & Tobago is truly a talented and blessed land!
Besides the ingenious approach we have to partying also known as feting…we came up with what is called “all-inclusive fetes” which is an all-you-can-eat and drink party with live soca bands and festivities…[a warning though that with this kind of delight…you have to condition your pocket to also pay the price but some would say it’s worth the experience even if you can only afford one or two of the good and more popular fetes]. Leading up to Carnival Monday and Tuesday there is also Panorama or pan it is commonly called….we have pan-semis which is much like a who’s who event especially if you can afford Pan on the greens (also all-inclusive) and panorama finals which is the Saturday before Carnival Monday and Tuesday. But if you truly can’t get enough of the sweet instrument you can also catch your favourite steel pan bands in the pan yards nightly as they practice for the big stage.
Where else in the world can you experience ex-tempo which is a sort of rap or rhyme but very melodious of course with a trinbagonian twist. It is a ‘sound off’ composed on the spot between competitors to have the wittiest and catchiest beat and composition. How about Calypso and Soca competitions also known as Calypso and Soca Monarch!? The difference however is that the former usually caters to the older crowd as it is songs composed with a message and sung at a slower pace (kiaso) whereas Soca Monarch is divided into Groovy [melodious soca] and Power Soca Monarch which is a faster uptempo beat where participants compete for the best lyrical, melodious and crowd pleasing performance! Thousands turn out to view these performances usually waiting up until the wee hours of the morning to see who wins the 2 million dollar title. It is usually broadcasted live over local tv and those who can’t listen in person camp out around their television sets at home with friends and family to witness the live event and be part of the excitement.
|photo credit – trindiego tt carnival (dame lorraine)
Of course the kids can’t be left out…there’s Kiddies Carnival and Ole mas, the latter which is a tribute to old school mas with all the traditional Carnival characters such as sailors, blue devils, jab molassie, Dame Lorraine etc
Who can forget Dimanche Gras where we have a little bit of the old and new and pretty elaborate costumes on the Big stage! It rivals anything else I’ve ever seen.
Of course we have J”ouvert morning which follows from Dimanche Gras every Monday morning where everyone can “spread their hands and leggo” (Blaxx) or let loose with mud and paint with a portrayal of contemporary issues as we poke fun at popular figures and have a fun time.
Last but not least it all explodes Carnival Monday and Tuesday into a crescendo of colour, sound and dance in a 2 day street parade of pretty mas – beads, feathers, head pieces, costumes as many masqueraders portray a theme from around the world usually with a historical twist. It’s the time of year that many people look foward to so as to let go of all of their inhibitions and “free up” to release all of their stress and tension from the year gone by. There’s also Monday night mas and las’ lap on Tuesday night. If you’re on the sister isle, you can also partake of mas’ and j’ouvert as Tobago also has everything in Trinidad but just on a smaller scale. Then afterwards you can relax on the picturesque beaches and soak in the lovely sun, sea and sand. Following this there are results of the Road March competition (most played song on the road at various judging points) and King and Queen of Carnival in the small medium and large bands categories! There you have it Trinidad and Tobago Carnival….now you see why we call it “The Greatest Show on Earth!!!” Once you experience it, you will always keep coming back for more!!
See you next time!