Can The Carnival Spirit Die?
Yuh know what? In the true sense of the word I have lost my Trininess. Facing the fact that many years overseas have dulled my senses to what is widely known as “catching d spirit”.
It is not like it's a stranger, at once upon a time I was one with that spirit. An intrinsic part of my being. But that was a long time ago before being away for a couple decades. I lost touch, Carnival Monday and Tuesdays became normal work days. Finding sound bites on Carnival on in the media was more painful than satisfying. .
Today, many Trinbagonians are busy getting ready for two days of frolicking in the streets of Trinidad and Tobago. I must admit as a returning native I’m out of tune with the celebrations. I may be a sense that there is nothing that I could add to Carnival it has been happening for so long all I can do is observe. I'm satisfied to find myself in one of the Mas camps on Carnival Sunday. It's like attending a fete, with the difference being that the street is the party venue.
The bands don’t matter except, no body covered chocolate or mud. I tried a band with paint a couple of years ago and it did not wash off well, so no more paint for me. Once I decide on a band I head home.
At one time I had to be out in a fete on Carnival Sunday night. No more, now I prefer to watch the Marche Gras Calypso show on the tube. During or maybe some time after I would be sound asleep. Next thing you know I’m up with the cocks early Monday morning. The loud noise that makes the cocks afraid of crowing on Carnival Monday morning. There is a constant boom boom sound in the air, the spirit is coming alive with a frenzy, a looseness fired by alcohol and the need to release, exhibit and show off.
The years I did play Mas I would make my way to Port of Spain join up with the band of revelers all outfitted in the same costume ready to play Mas. It’s strange how close you feel to people all dressed up like you and not really know anyone there. It’s like Facebook where you can get instant “friends”.
Food, drink and security surrounding the band are all I need to see to be comfortable, and I’m good. It’s the only time of the year that it makes sense to drink that early in the morning. Funny thing you can’t see Mas if you play Mas so might as well enjoy it.
I know, real Trinis must be thinking; “Dah stupid”. Many would rather go out to a fete on Sunday night and lime till Monday morning. And they not waiting for last minute to find a band that is done at least a month in advance. Maybe it's because of the gray hair I noticed on my chest, I don’t have the energy or spirit for an all nighter and expect to participate in the morning. I do enjoy the annual deviant behavior of drinking alcohol 6 AM and dancing in the streets just after having woke up at 4 AM. Only happens in Trinidad.
I never really considered playing Mas in Brooklyn Labor Days; it’s not the same as home. Mas in the US, IMHO, felt like becoming a spectacle for strangers to gawk at with no understanding of the culture or traditions of Carnival. In hindsight, I, myself did not have a real appreciation of the tradition. At home, there are no strangers, everybody understands or at least accept the madness. But it's not just the playing Mas, other aspects of Carnival, I still don’t appreciate. Pan music.
Panorama, the traditional pan competition has always been and probably still is live on. I remember as a boy I would not miss a Panorama Sunday Finals in the Savannah. I enjoyed it but even then but, I confess, it was not about the pan. Pan was the reason I was there not my purpose, my mind was only on hanging out with my boys and checking out the girls.
As a Trinidadian, I offer no excuse for my lack of appreciation; I know I somehow allowed to slip by me a genuine cultural experience. I believe that music is important in the development of man's social and cultural foundation it is a link that keeps us knitted together for our common good. To miss out on the creativity of your own music leaves a perceptible void in one’s cultural awareness. I’m guilty as charged on this count.
Unless you just knocking the pan with no rhythm it sounds good to me. I could be classified as “pan deaf”. In my head, to my ear, pan is pan. Some do sound much better they say it's in the arrangement and the sweetness of the tenor and guitar pan. From where I sit, if anyone can cause a tune to emanate from a steel pan that’s notable because they know a lot more than I do about pan music.
Carnival spirits don't die they are merely get re channeled. Religious retreats, week end or week trips to other islands are the escapes. The very diversity in carnival allows us, as a democratic society to decide how we spend this time. Leaving or become a passive spectator all celebrate and act on their particular spirit of Carnival. For myself...
It’s an opportunity to learn and enjoy what is produce from a mix of cultural diversity representing global cultures. Carnival can easily be perceived as deliberate organized madness. Self expression harnessed only by the imagination where surreal thoughts find legs to walk the streets of Trinidad and Tobago to be seen and see. Orderly chaos?
I love the satirical picong of meaningful calypsos, and soca tunes that pluck at the rhythmic spirit stimulating involuntary body movements. That’s a topic for another post. I must mention that the Caribbean Blogger also gets a ton of visitors for carnival. My editorial comments on the 2011 Calypso competition had this blog hopping literally all year long with first time search engine visitors.
That’s it for today. All the best to anyone playing Mas on Monday and Tuesday. Don’t know who I will be joining this year for Jourvert but I still have lots of time to decide. Don’t I?
More commentary on pieces of Trinidad and Tobago Carnival coming soon, stay tuned.