Carnival is Bacchanal - mas' and calypso
By Jabari Fraser writing from Port of Spain
If you come from Mars to the carnival in Port of Spain and see the skimpiness of the costume covering not too much of thousands of the loveliest women this side of heaven, you may attribute that to the shortness of the pre-carnival season.
You mean that mas’ (short for masquerade) designers did not have too much time to plan?
Well.…come Carnival Monday and Tuesday, the colour, fantasy and pelvic action of those women will drive away any reason to wonder why. …you will just wonder how….
A trip this week through the mas’ camps in Carnival City will find the masqueraders ready and full of action seeking an adjustment here or there to make the costumes smaller and allow more of the body to be shown off to its best effect.
One of the shapely, young women who crowd the mas camps with requests for bra and headpiece adjustments among other things, told Caribbean Intelligence©: “I want my costume adjusted, in time to play mas but if it isn’t, I doh care.
“I just want to jump and bubble on Tuesday.”
It may not be easy to dethrone Brian Mac Farlane from the George Bailey Award for Band of the Year.
Mac Farlane has won the title for the past six years.
This year, his presentation is called Joy the Finale and, as the title implies, he says this will be his last year competing on the Carnival roads.
He too, like most other band leaders, has the distribution dates for costumes in sections of his band posted on his Facebook page, hoping to cut down on the costume collection chaos.
On this fete-crammed Carnival weekend, the courts have stepped in to cancel a breakfast party that has been a must-attend event for the last 18 years.
The alcohol licence to host “De Original Vale Breakfast Party” was refused by a Magistrates’ Court Judge on the grounds of excessive disturbance to residents and insufficient space for the large crowd expected to attend.
While lawyers are busy appealing the decision against the popular fete for “Permission to Mash up the Place”, a la David Rudder song, others bombard social media, television and radio with advertisements for 3-5 fetes and concerts per night until Ash Wednesday.
If the calypso critiquing, soca wars, costume and mas’ measuring and excitement are anything to go by, this Carnival weekend and Monday and Tuesday will certainly live up to their usual form.
The weekend activities will, of course, be topped only by the Monday and Tuesday battles of the large, medium and small costumed bands and, of course, the battle for the road march –the most frequently played songs as bands cross the various stages – which this year seems to between Montano and SuperBlue.
Take yuh choice between Super’s Fantastic Friday and Machel’s Float.
What is certain is that the wining will not stop till the last music truck rolls out of the Savannah until “De Carnival is over” – and even that feeling is encapsulated in music in a legacy lament left to us by the Grandmaster Kitchener.
In the most traditional and respected of the carnival arts, the calypso monarch competition last weekend had a distasteful, but very much a political flavour to it at the semi-finals.
Held at the traditional semi-final venue of south Trinidad’s Skinner Park, the show and contest allows a whittling down of the calypso finalists for the big carnival weekend show.
Veterans De Fosto and Sugar Aloes, perceived to have betrayed the opposition Peoples National Movement by singing on the platforms of the now ruling People’s Partnership were pelted with soft objects while toilet paper was held aloft to indicate disgust with them.
Usually the toilet paper waving at Skinner Park is saved for songs with bad lyrics rather than political points of view.
President of the Trinbago Unified Calypsonians' Organisation Lutalo Masimba described the behaviour as "distasteful and disgraceful to calypsonians and the art form."
On the contest itself, among those aiming to become crowned Calypso Monarch of the world, there are a number of newcomers and, this year, a number of female contestants – all hoping to become the new monarch.
Taking on the veteran
But the one the newer faces are still fighting is veteran bard Chalkdust.
This year, the eight-time winner of the calypso monarch crown has come with another clever statement in which he sings that many senior government ministers are related to what he calls the ‘Crooks Family’….fairly self-explanatory.
”Calypsonians have licence oui,” would be a good Trini observation.
Another veteran Pink Panther explores and creates language in his search for “leadership”.
But defending Calypso Monarch, Duane O’Connor, was bursting with confidence with his composition, “Seeking Sparrow’s Advice” and “Building a Wall”.
In the early hours of Friday morning, Pink Panther won with his songs Travel Woes and Crying In The Chapel - the latter for which he brought a coffin on stage.
So, here’s the line up of pre-carnival shows leading to Monday’s J’ouvert morning early partying which heralds the official start of Carnival Monday and Tuesday when costumed bands rule the country’s major cities and towns.
- Thursday night - Calypso Monarch Finals
- Friday night - King and Queen of Carnival Finals, Soca Monarch
- Saturday - Kiddies's Carnival
- Sunday - Dimanche Gras
I’ll be reporting back for Caribbean Intelligence©.
Part one of Jabari Fraser's Carnival is Bacchanal is still available.