Trinis Who Don’t Like Carnival
I couldn’t give two hoots whether Carnival Monday fell on a Thursday or Saturday.
Prepare to gasp, but I also wouldn’t care if they cancelled it. Obviously, there would be implications for the economy, and persons employed for Carnival activities (and so I don’t think it’d be a wise decision), but would I feel as if a knife were put to my heart, and feel the wind knocked from under my feet, if Carnival were to be no more? Would I go into a severe tabanca? No.
To Carnival lovers, what I’m saying is pure blasphemy. How could I be a Trini and not love Carnival. Like really, how could I? Every year, we see thousands of masqueraders on the streets for Trinidad Carnival, so the assumption is that everyone loves Carnival.
Even if you’re not jumping up in a band and wining up on a man or woman (or even thing, cause we all know the characters that come out for the season), you’d at least go to one fete or to Panorama Semis, clad in your crew’s t-shirt. For many, dat is d damn ting self!
Here’s the thing though. I’m not alone. There are many Trinis who couldn’t be bothered about Carnival, and prefer to go to Tobago, fly out, or curl up with a good book or DVDs, and make it a sweet, long weekend.
I’m not talking about people who abhor Carnival for religious reasons. I’m talking about those who simply aren’t wired to be energizer bunnies for months on end, attending every fete, and jumping up non-stop on Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
Some people just can’t take the hyper activity or rubbing up against sweaty bodies. Some people prefer ‘peace and quiet’, and as such, they can’t be bothered.
They may prefer groovy soca to the aerobics-inducing ‘power’ Soca. They may prefer a good house lime to dressing up to go preen in one of the popular all-inclusive fetes (you know how fetes are a real make-out scene these days). And that’s their right.
With Carnival fever slowly building, and big band launches on the way, we’re going to be flooded with Facebook updates about costumes, photo galleries, fete calendars, who’s trying to get a sought after Tribe costume, and whether Spice is as hot as they say they are (it’s already started). The automatic assumption is that everyone cares.
Some people may have had a love affair with Carnival since their infant days. However, the escalating price of costumes, and the fast decreasing quality of music for the season (at least what we get to hear on radio) have impacted them. Remember the days when Soca music was sweet fuh so? You’d throw your hands in the air and get lost in oblivion? Okay, so some will say they still get that feeling. But when a DJ puts on a retro soca track, d dance does mash up. Some people miss that special magic.
They miss the artistry; they miss the sweetness of d ting.
Maybe if Carnival was more than some good fetes and the two-day jump up, non-lovers like me would be more drawn to it. But wait. There is more to Carnival than bikini mas and waving your flag – something we all know, but can easily forget. There’s the re-enactment of the Canboulay Riots, stick-fighting, calypso tents, shows “Under the Tree” at the Normandie Hotel, limes in the panyard, traditional mas, and pure creativity in abundance. I personally enjoy attending 3Canal’s annual production in Queen’s Hall.
If the substance of Carnival was brought back to the fore, more people would be seduced by it again. Maybe if the music was sweeter, and young talent were given the chance to shine, we’d have more options music-wise. Maybe if the costumes were not just pretty, but truly creative (and not manufactured in China), the artistry would be too intoxicating to ignore (new band Skullduggery is actually doing a good job at injecting creativity into their mas). Maybe if the true richness of the culture was exposed again (because the younger generation may not necessarily have the same appreciation for it as the seasoned one), there’d be more to fall in love with.
For some people, their year starts when Carnival is over. Every year, I can’t wait for Ash Wednesday, so I can get back to my regularly scheduled programme. As a matter of fact, sometimes I only get up to speed on what the hottest songs for the season way after Ash Wednesday.
The only thing I love about Carnival is steelpan, and while all my friends are preoccupied with which crew they’re liming with for Pan Semis, I always have a fruitless search for company to go to the calmer side (previously the Grand Stand). I refuse to wear a crew jersey, and unsuccessfully try to listen to pan in peace against the sounds of the rhythm section and drunken noise. See there needs to be a support group for people like me (that or some hypnosis to convince my friends to love the music just as much as the lime).
And while some people are happily grumbling about the expensive costume they paid down for, or are studying how they’re going to make the balance, my savings account is overjoyed, knowing that there’s no way it could be dented all for a two-day revelry.
The anticipation for Carnival hides the fact that there are many people who don’t care much for it, and who, believe it or not, would rather be somewhere else besides downtown Port of Spain or San Fernando come Carnival Monday and Tuesday.
Carnival babies may wail, and call it a sin, but if you don’t like Carnival, it doesn’t mean you’re any less of a Trini than the person who lives for it.
Image credit: Mark Lyndersay.