I don’t participate in Carnival but I love pan music and I live here. I heard NCC Chairman Winston “Gypsy” Peters and Colin Lucas on i95.5 last Saturday talking about the Carnival launch (which took place the following day). Gypsy mentioned that the launch was earlier than previous years to give people time to plan their affairs to attend the TT Carnival.
He also mentioned that over the years the number of Carnival visitors has declined. He gave several reasons. However, I noticed he was careful not to mention the bikini and beads mas (politically correct?). If locals are not paying to see the naked mas, why should tourists?
Every year after Carnival a post mortem is done but we never hear the details. But apparently no-one is listening to opinions or suggestions because it’s the same old, same old. Hence for some time now the Queen’s Park Savannah stands have remained empty as the number of patrons continues to decline annually. What measures have been taken to ameliorate this situation? Absolutely none.
This year the organisers of the Socadrome opened up the Jean Pierre Complex to the public for free to compete with the Savannah. I believe desperation was behind the reasoning. (Trinis like freeness; charge them next year and you’ll see.)
The leading bikini and beads bandleader asked why other bands don’t have hundreds of masqueraders and boasted of his thousands of naked masqueraders.
When I think of development I think of a higher standard, but currently in the mas it’s a continued downward slide. Truth be told, masqueraders go after what is offered. The stress of life needs to be released and the Carnival stage provides that for many, which the bandleaders are fully cognisant of. In the final analysis they are laughing all the way to the bank. Gone are the days of storytellers like the Bailey brothers, Hart, Lee Heung, Garib, Affong, Minshall, Mac Farlane etc. Today, bandleaders hire designers who throw colours together and attach feathers and beads to bikinis, their portrayals failing to tell any story. And the disorganised masqueraders don’t care as they only want to have fun.
Meanwhile, more and more people stay away from the dying Carnival. Some go to camps and beaches, some fly out and thousands watch cable TV.
Remember the days when people stood after 6pm waiting for Minshall and more recently Mac Farlane? Minshall’s depictions were not understood by many and instead were criticised. Indeed, they were prophetic. Remember Mancrab (plenty around in the politics, in high offices and in the mas). The triology depicted the need for man to be cleansed (we need that now).
Gypsy said carnival across the globe is a revenue generator. So why where it all began is it constantly in the red? Other countries stage parades with floats and well-dressed people dancing and singing and no nakedness, except maybe Rio. Why have we in TT allowed the parasitic oligarchy within Carnival to stifle the creative minds? Why have we settled for mediocrity and the almighty dollar?
Carnival today is commodification and commercialisation. There’s no creativity and stories behind the mas. If changes don’t come to the bikini and beads mas, its demise is inevitable.
By Roseanne Glasgow
The Original article can be found here: https://newsday.co.tt/2018/09/29/the-death-knell-of-carnival/