......In Part 2 of our 5 Part article we took a trip down Memory lane to see what Trinidad Carnival was like in the 1980's, our next installment contrast the Carnival of the past with that of the present.
For Carnival Monday, by 10am, Masquerade bands were already moving you wouldn’t have any separate things to wear so you would wear some of your costume. it was not Mas Produced and had been made in Trinidad so it could stand up to a full week of carnival, and it could also be repaired fairly easily too.
Mas at that time was all over the city, every street you would find bands even in a place called Belmont close to the savannah you had Carnival bands passing through, behind the bridge, Fredrick Street.
The Savannah had these stands or bleachers on the Track entrance and exit, these were always completely full. The Grand and North stands and the streets were also so full that you couldn’t see the Pavements from the stands and you would see families with chairs, blankets and food baskets and no adult would have to cover a childs eyes from any vulgar behaviour as people played their mas.
Carnival-Tuesday bands would set off at 7am and that was when you would see these amazing costumes before your eyes. Who can forget Ivan Mac Williams presentation of ‘The Wonders of Bucco Reef’ and ‘Anansi Stories’ every section told a story of what the band was playing, the costumes prsentations lasted for two days you would see the Kings and the Queens on the road and not with a piece of costume but the entire costume as opposed to today where on Carnival Monday many will only wear only a piece of their Costume, bands paraded up till 10pm at night and then you had Last Lap, that was Carnival back then, and it was a time where, in my opinion, the Carnival in Trinidad was the envied by every island and country that had or wanted a carnival.
Now fast forward to the last 12 to 15 years to the present 2017, that carnival that made Trinidad famous has now passed. It is with great sadness I announce the death of Trinidad carnival, it was friend and family to the world, in my opinion the funeral for the Carnival took place approximately 13 years ago.
Today we now see a much watered-down vision of what was once the greatest show ever, all because of greed and money, these souless things have replaced much of our culture and art, and the authorities have done nothing but sit back and watched it happen. the carnival groups too have all sat back and watched carnival die and done nothing too. But regardless of this decline, every year after carnival you hear nonsensical commentary such as ‘this year carnival was the best while the poor planning and a total lack of marketing result in us seeing a lack of growth.
It seems that they feel that once carnival dates are announced people will just show up but in my opinion in this age of the internet and global marketing you should be ten steps ahead of every other carnival.
Masquerade Bands leave at 7am on Tuesday and by 6.30pm to 7.30pm these bands are making their way or already back at their base, this never used to happen, Bands use to party into the night, and unlike the good old days they stop for a lunch break for at least 2 hours.
Another thing is that there is no longer a “Last Lap”
(Las Lap is a well-known part of the Carnival that takes place in Port of Spain at the St James roundabout (traffic circle) in the cool of the night after the hot carnival Tuesday. With a slow and softer tempo, las lap is an opportunity to wind down. At midnight the final ritual takes place when the police van arrives to end the action, signalling the end of the Festival).
Today you can now safely say that by 8pm, Trinidad carnival is officially over and shut-down, you no longer see the Tourists that we used to either, and by this I don’t mean the West Indian that lives in Europe or the USA and comes back to Trinidad to partake in the Festival. I mean the real Tourist running to get a photo or a piece of the fabulous costumes that used to be designed and made on the Island. The costumes today are often so tiny now you can’t even give away a feather.
(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)