Once Crowned the mecca of all Carnivals, “The greatest how on earth” that was Trinidad Carnival, but today in my opinion that has all but gone. But the question I hope to answer in this Article is Why?....
For an Island that gave carnival to the world, an Island that invented Steel Pans, beautiful outrageous carnival costumes, pulsating music that sounded distinctly Trinidadian is now almost having to play catch-up to other Caribbean Carnivals and to even Europe and North America.
Beautiful Carnival Costumes bands have now been replaced by sub-standard factory based costumes from China, giving you a very poor replica of a Victorias-Secret Lingerie-style carnival. Feathers and Beads no detail to design, no creativity, no more art, no more detail to Masquerade themes.
Each band looks the same as every other band. A band decided to play ‘Animal Kingdom’ but all you see is feathers and beads, nothing else you looking for a Tiger and you seeing feather and beads, no Tails, No wings, No Face, No beaks, nothing but Beads and Fathers. And that is all mas.
Each year you see the same thing over and over again, today it can be argued that if you’ve seen one band you’ve seen them all, because everyone obtains their costumes from the factory. Often all they change is the colours, to say how foolish things have become is an understatement.
A friend of a female friend of mine told me a story two years ago, she said that she and five o0f her girls friends have played with the same costumes for the past four years, in three different bands.
All they do is check the internet, look at the costume, and all they may change is the Bikini bottoms and bra because of the difference in colour, they buy the feathers and add a bit here and there. They then get Arm Bands and get them printed or leave it plain and that’s it! they in the band!
I thought it was a joke until Carnival Tuesday 2017 whilst I was on Upper Fredrick street in Port of Spain and ran into those same Girls, all of them playing with a band with costumes from four years ago. I almost collapsed on the pavement laughing, initially it was so funny, but after they left me I thought about it and began to feel sad, as it then dawned on me the extent of where carnival has reached now and how far it has fallen.
How on earth can an Island that was arguably dominant amongst the world carnivals for years get to this stage now?
The answer is Simple…‘Greed’ it has nothing to do with what is old-style and Traditional or what is new-style and modern, its plain and simple Greed. People are playing on the backs of young people who unfortunately are easily fooled. Throughout the 80’s Trinidad had sexy-mas, the Legendary Peter Minshall gave Trinidad sexy-mas, he introduced something call ‘Dan Skin’ which was like a whole bath-suit but to add to that you had costumes.
The element of a beautiful design was there, you saw a story in every single section relating to the presentation and it’s theme, those bands back then were huge bands, sometimes 2,500….3,000….4,500 strong.
Every costume was made right there in Trinidad which were body costumes, Head Pieces, Standards, Neck Pieces, Hand and Foot pieces, and 4,000+ different Standards all made right in Trinidad.
So now the very poor excuses one often hears from Mas Bands such as they “can’t produce costumes for a full band in Trinidad” is an outright lie.
It may come as a shock to some that not so long ago there were Wire-Benders working sometimes for three entire bands and by Carnival Sunday ALL of the costumes were given out to the Masqueraders.
(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official position or opinion of Carnevale Network)