Tribalism is the state of being organized in, or advocating for, a tribe or tribes, the human brain is hard-wired towards tribalism, this refers to a way of thinking or behaving in which people are more loyal to their tribe than to their friends, their country, or any other social group.
All of us are born into a “tribal mentality” of various forms, these include our family unit, religious background, country of origin, ethnicity, etc. Whilst also possessing of a strong cultural or ethnic identity, however the important reality remains – it is ours. It is about beauty, and desire, about identity and belonging. It is about us, the Trini Carnival Tribe.
At the impressionable age of 8, I saw my first Carnival costume my Dad had taken the family to see my uncle who was playing mas as part of a touring Trinidad Carnival production, which was playing at the Royal Albert Hall. That was my very first introduction to the magical world of Trinidad & Tobago Carnival. The enigmatic twin islands of my parents birth was ever present in the background of my childhood, the latest Steel Pan cassette tapes and the likes of The Mighty Sparrow always on heavy duty rotation around the house…..
“To me, Carnival is a time of metamorphosis/change, freedom and euphoria. For about one week prior to and especially including Carnival Monday & Tuesday, which is the culmination of an avalanche of excitements. I can escape, and get to throw off all the personal baggage that you tend to carry around with you for the other 363 days of the year unwind and regroup, play my mas and get on bad with wild abandon. Come Ash Wednesday, the day after the Carnival Season ends, I find myself at the beach where I can relax my mind and body, By which time the afterglow kicks in to full effect.
For Trinidad, a transformation occurs which conjures up Caliban’s words: “the isle is full of music”. Somehow, for a moment, we forget about the poverty, the unemployment, political iniquities and national fecklessness. We set everything aside in the affirmation of an altogether more lovely and desirable reality, however brief and improbable”
(The following video gives a sneak peak into ‘J’ouvert’ or dutty mas…)
To the uneducated eye Carnival on the surface may seem like one huge dirty street party, It might be even easier to think that Trinidad Carnival is nothing more than pure, unadulterated debauchery, an orgy of soca, rum and sun and heaven knows what else, 24-hours-a-day, no-holds-barred bacchanal. The realm of the very worst worthless sinners, all of them hell bent on destroying the very pillars of polite society, and you know what, I can’t even begin to try to sugar coat it, It pretty much is that but also, so very much more to boot….
For the un-initiated who’ve never experienced Carnival they will not know its wonder, they cannot compute that level of electricity. That holy trinity of Pan, Mas, and Soca together with the multiple ritualistic practices all converge to ignite a special kind of magic into the air, that is quite truly inexplicable. When you’re covered in chocolate, paint, mud, oil and powder or done up in your pretty feathery costumes, everyone filled with anticipation the music pulsing through the air. It all combines to create an experience that is almost beyond description the sights, the sounds, the music, the atmosphere, are something that really does have to be seen and heard to be believed.
I’m most certain that if you ask anyone what’s the real meaning of Carnival you will get a wide variety of responses.
(The following video gives a sneak peak into ‘Pretty Mas’ on de road..)
No matter where you are – in Trinidad, the Caribbean region, or across the Caribbean diaspora – it’s almost impossible to ignore the heavy Carnival vibrations in the air. The heart of which beats strongest right in the bosom of Trinidad’s capital, Port of Spain.
Trinidad remains the spiritual source of all this activity. Its musicians and artists continue to feed the Carnivals which have sprung up across the globe in the last 30 years.
Whatever happens in Brooklyn, Toronto, London or Australia it started with some homesick Trinidadian with Carnival in his heart, and will grow with the traditions of his new home, much as the Carnival in Trinidad has done. Until that happens, Trinidad remains the centre, the heart, the mecca of mas, attracting anthropologists, photographers, musicians, performance artists and of course tourist’s from all over the world.
For here in Carnival country, the bacchanal is real and on-going, the debate is alive, the messages topical and relevant. Here, the whole thing makes sense.
Carnival falls every year in the period between Christmas and Lent; the timing is rooted in the Christian tradition, and everybody knows that the word Carnival derives from carne vale, which means “flesh, farewell”, a last spree before the austerity of Lent begins.
The Trinidad Carnival is also about fierce competition among individuals and bands of fantastically costumed revellers. One of its most sacred moments is the shadowy dawn time of J’Ouvert, where mud and liquor prevail in a hedonism which can hardly be imagined.
Above all, however, Carnival is about people who come out onto the streets of the island every year to claim and affirm for themselves, however briefly and improbably, an alternative reality. And it is in this notion of an alternative reality that the origins of the Trinidad Carnival exist.
Carnival allows the ordinary man to assume, however briefly, the robes and swagger of a king.
(The following video is Machel Montano 2013 Soca hit ‘The Fog’…)
Role change and exchange have been fundamental to the human condition since the beginning of time. Cavemen wore animal skins and threw spears at huge graphic representations of animals to facilitate the hunt. Early civilisations were quick to recognise that their existence depended upon powerful mundane forces which had by various means to be placated.
So there evolved many masquerades all over the world in which, for example, men pretended to be women in order to facilitate fertility. People wore masks of various kinds, or in other ways sought to assume the forms of the phenomena which they desired or feared. In this regard, masquerade was primarily functional.
But even after mastery of the environment makes masquerade unnecessary, the impulse to pretend remains. It does not die, and all over the world the desire to be something else remains constant. In Trinidad, that desire is manifested in its Carnival.
So the origins of Carnival are deep, mysterious and universal. The ritual of assuming an alternative reality has survived even though the forces which initially called it into existence no longer prevail.
The romance of the pan, the saga of the steel drum, has its origins in urban dispossession. But its aspirations have always been magical. Carnival, aside from being a time of bacchanal and excess, its all About You! The focus of Trinidad Carnival is the reveller who purchases the costume, and not on the spectator. Today’s Carnival costumes are cool, sexy and comfortable enough to play mas’ in for 2 full days. You are encouraged to join a Trinidad Carnival band. It’s all about the party, playing mas’, being in the moment and living life, not sitting on the side-lines, watching it.
A revolutionary concept, isn’t it, to participate in a culture instead of being and observer? And if you choose to be a spectator, you can get right in amongst the revellers to take your pictures. Again, interacting with real people while having the time of your life, what an extraordinary travel concept. And even though Carnival can get a little raucous and even suggestive at times, it is just good clean fun.
It is the passion of the human spirit that fuels the need to sing….the need to dance….the need to feel free, Trinidadians really are the ultimate party animals, prepared to drink, dance and wine from dusk till dawn, and on again until dusk, day after day this is how we Trini’s celebrate.
So today, I am attempting to translate and share that love via this blog called “Trini Carnival Soca All Stars”, a platform of information on everything Carnival-related, from News & Views, Artists, Music, Photo’s, Videos, Band launchings and Fete reviews etc…..
Twitter comments / Follow….
Trini Jungle Juice @junglejuiceintl 17 Feb
I posted 14 photos on Facebook in the album “Cocoa Devils Cooler Fete 2013 Part 2 (TEASE)” http://fb.me/2MYhBzdxJ
I posted 22 photos on Facebook in the album “TRIBE Mas ‘Butterflies Beasts Bacchanal’ Tuesday 2013 Pt3 (TEASE)” http://fb.me/1rR8aaGD8
Saucy @carnivaldiary 12 Feb
Damien Dante Wayan is in Tribe! http://fb.me/wZwtmvdz
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