Monday, February 01, 2010

The imminent crash of Carnival culture: The advent of exclusivity

I saw this article and had to post it because its an observation I too have noticed and have spoken to others me this virus started with Mas, then Panorama and then the fetes.However I am aware that the argument can go this way or that, elements such as crime does factor in who goes where and what they pay, but it’s the ‘I don’t wine , I’m to special to break a sweat ‘ mentality that really kills the vibe, and that same vibe can be found in some so called fun bands too!...
Is it just me, or has the spirit of the true Trini Carnival taken a nosedive? This isn’t a column, but I feel the need to vent so please, bear with me… What is it with Trinidadians and this uptown behaviour? Did all the real, wassy, spirited Trinis die and leave behind a rash-like invasion of people who live for fashion, chit-chatting and networking, eating like gluttons at all-inclusive fetes and binge-drinking because they feel they must get their $600 worth by the time the last band sings? Whatever happened to attending a fete to do just that—FETE? The Carnival experience has diminished and, for the most part, the folks who are attending fetes seem to be doing so for all the wrong reasons. Some may take offence to this piece but it really isn’t meant to offend—just to shake us, as a people, back to reality. Trinbagonians have been spoken of around the world as a carefree people, full of life, zest and energy—never a people to care what anyone thinks.
Trinis make their own rules, especially at Carnival time. Trinis fete like no other people, from any other part of the globe, possibly can. T&T is the Mecca of Carnival—the place it all began and the place that continues to be credited for its influence across the world. Here it is, though, that in 2010, a Carnival experience is defined by an all-inclusive event that begins at 4 pm and ends promptly at midnight. This is meant to cater for those who feel that crime has hindered their ability to go where they want, when they want. And honestly, to some extent, it has. However, as Bunji Garlin rightly states in his 2010 contribution—Brave—if we allow the true Carnival feting culture to die because of a few evil minds, what will we have in the next five years? What will tourists see, experience and understand about our Carnival atmosphere when they arrive? I’ll tell you: they’ll merely realise that nowadays, T&T’s Carnival is quite the same as any carnivalesque atmosphere, anywhere in the world; it’s nothing special anymore.

The public fetes, the way we’d fete till dawn, dripping beads of sweat, bubbling with joyful emotion and wining low to anything from chutney to rhythmic J’ouvert tunes and the hard-core soca beats that pump adrenaline to the hearts of every patron—that is the essence of the Trini Carnival feting culture. In 2010, Bazodee Friday was a shameful display of a crowd who’d come merely to strut their stuff, chat with those they hadn’t seen for the week and stand in heels to prove they could look great at a Carnival fete. Sadly, there was no vibe and the soca bands couldn’t be blamed. The feters are to blame. We as a people must take responsibility for the imminent crash of Carnival. Carnival is that single time of year when people of all socio-economic backgrounds mingle and misbehave as one.
There’s no question of whether one person is from the Beetham and another is from Westmoorings. It’s that time of year when—in the past—we’d wine together, drink together and smile cheerfully at one another. Now, with the advent of all-inclusive bands—there is segregation and they say it’s because of crime—but is it really? Or, is it because there’s money to be made? Ever stopped to think that the reveller in the all-inclusive band that you’re jumping alongside just might be the girlfriend of a drug baron from the Beetham? She, too, can afford to pay the exorbitant price for safety, free food and free liquor. Food for thought…are we really solving the problem of crime by creating exclusive atmospheres for the elite, or are we killing Carnival and segregating society further in the process? T&T, in the weeks ahead, you can find me at Army Fete and Brass—The Rebirth. I palanced with soca’s finest at WASA fete last weekend too. I intend to keep my Carnival untainted by exclusivity and I intend to do it freely, like I did ten years ago.
Trinidad Guardian
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