Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 7th 2015 Contents Part 2
There have been a few post
mortem columns and articles on
Carnival 2015, some of them
hinged on a central question; is it
too late to save Carnival?
Carnival, as we knew it, has
been dead for quite some time.
We can point fingers and demand
to know who is responsible but
that energy would be better
spent trying to determine what s
to be done with the remnants of
Yes, it is important to accept
that Carnival interest groups, the
NCC, NCBA, Pan Trinbago and
TUCO have all had a turn at
twisting the knife. These groups
haven t exactly been shy about
their lack of acumen in adminis-
tering a festival of this size.
The seemingly insolvable prob-
lem of congestion on parade
routes and on the Queen s Park
Savannah stage gave a group of
large bands the justification they
needed to privatise the festival.
At this point, that genie won t go
back into the bottle without a
On a facebook thread hosting
opinions on the Soca Drome, the
majority of comments appeared
to support the initiative. While
there were sporadic expressions
of disappointment with the lack
of spectators, there was one very
telling remark, "I don t buy my
costumes for spectators."
And there you have it. We have
been expecting nobility of hedo-
nism, the dominant trait of the
new generation of Carnival. The
Soca Drome, seen as an exten-
sion of the season of fetes is
merely another opportunity for
Trinis, principally concerned with
"having a good time" and show-
ing off for their peers, to ramajay
not for spectators, but for them-
The parade of the bands is
increasingly insular, detached
from the notion of spectacle and
enamoured with the idea of
exclusivity and privilege. If mas-
queraders don t see themselves as
part of a larger organism, but a
distinct subset, then we must
accept that the parade of the
bands exists now only as a dilut-
ed artefact of this society.
This is the angle which
demands attention, one which
could benefit from the light of an
analysis. Carnival may be chang-
ing not simply because of spec-
tacular incompetence at the
management level, but because of
the people of T&T.
Much was made of paltry
spectator numbers in the capital
city on Monday and Tuesday. It
was suggested that more people
opted to support regional Carni-
vals and this was reflected in
numbers seen in Port-of-Spain.
This is a theory that, on the face
of it, seems incapable of holding
I passed through Sangre
Grande on both Carnival Monday
and Tuesday at 2.30 and 3 pm.
On both occasions, the streets
were lined with makeshift bars.
Vendors gazed forlornly into their
mobile phones, while others fid-
geted with barrels of ice, packed
in anticipation of some deluge of
revellers and spectators. Yet on
both days, well into the after-
noon, there was no sign that a
national festival was on.
I read in the newspaper that
J Ouvert in San Fernando this
year got started after 7 am.
Organisers simply stated "that s
how we do J Ourvert in South."
If we, as a people, can t mar-
shal the discipline to get up at
four o clock in the morning,
slather our bodies with mud and
oil, drink Charlie s Red Spanish
wine out of a porcelain potty and
dutifully pass out in a drain by
sunrise then we might as well
fold up our civilisation and give
this space to others more worthy.
How we chose to "celebrate"
Carnival appears to be changing.
In my Panorama days the culture
shift had already begun in the
North Stand. It had become
"lime central" for youthful atten-
dees not necessarily in love with
pan, but absolutely crazy about
the atmosphere it generates. In
those days there were massive
coolers, the "posse" with the
matching t-shirts and the then
President s security detail moving
in after you have carefully set up
your liming area to tief precious
acreage out from under you.
For all the raucous antics and
"kyar-kyar" in the North Stand,
when that stick hit the iron three
times, everyone in the pavilion
kept their arse kwart until the
band finished performing. Such
was the respect for the national
instrument, even among the
youth with little affinity for it.
Now, the steelpan is seen as an
interruption to DJ music and the
festive ambience. We blame the
Carnival interest groups for their
bungling of our most prized cul-
tural asset, but to what extent
are we responsible for its demise?
Walking through the Savannah
on Ash Wednesday morning
looking at discarded costumes it
dawned on me that many of
them were rubbish before they
became rubbish. Creativity has
leached out of the festival, and
right behind it, spectators inter-
We need to have a better
understanding of citizens role in
the evolution of Carnival. Only
then will we be able to determine
what will become of what was,
in our almost forgotten past, the
greatest show on earth.
Saturday, March 7, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
Notice is hereby given that the 40th Annual General Meeting of Angostura Group
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March 21st 2015 in the Glass Room, House of Angostura, Eastern Main Road,
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13. Door Prizes
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CELEBRATING THE DEATH OF CARNIVAL
The parade of the bands is increasingly insular,
detached from the notion of spectacle and
enamoured with the idea of exclusivity and privilege.
If masqueraders don't see themselves as part of a
larger organism, but a distinct subset, then we must
accept that the parade of the bands exists now only
as a diluted artefact of this society.
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