It has been known for a long time that Costumes at Carnival are moving away from the traditionally rich and creative designs and becoming more and more revealing. The the Risque aspect of the season is of course, a part of carnival. But we used to see a wider variety of costumes that appealed to different types of people and expressed many different aspects of our culture, our humanity, and current issues in the world, on Carnival Tuesday
These days every band looks the same with a Costume that is basically some combination of feathers and beads. Quite often by midday most of a costume will be discarded, because there is less respect for the theme, message or meaning behind the portrayl that the costume was designed to help represent.
The worst thing in my opinion is now you have elite bands, where you must be a certain size and body-type in order to take part. This excludes those people whose body type does not match these measurements.
Costumes that are sold from a factory for between $23 and $60 US Dollars now trade in Trinidad for as much as $4995 to as much as $10000 plus TT dollars, now you have to pay extras for parts of your costumes, because its Front Line, Back Line, Mid Line normal costumes. #
95% of the bands no longer even present a King and Queen and if they do, it’s the person who’s paying the Band the most money to play in the costume, and then when they win the band wants a percentage of the prize money.
Today you often hear excuses for the unreasonable soaring costs of costumes, one of the favorite ones is that the cost of security is driving the cost of the band, but my argument is what do you expect if you put young women out half-naked on the streets, my take on that is if so then who’s protecting these women come carnival Tuesday night when the band packs up? These women have always made their own way home, quite often using public transport and they do this without the requirement of Security.
The music now is not as unique as it used to be, there is no longer any Live music you. Today you have tons of DJ’s, and their Job is to scream on the Microphone all day trying to get the masqueraders to respond to music that is only radio-friendly and is not the type of Music that used to be played Live with artists on the Truck who would motivate the Masqueraders with their performance.
Costumes are now collected in a box a litte bigger than a shoe box and quite often Masqueraders have to go to the shops and spend more money trying to add things to the costume.
It has became so sad that a couple years ago a Sailor Mas band presented by the Trinidad-All-Stars Steel Pan band won the Band of the year for two years straight the Carnival. It was clear that the carnival Judges were attempting to send a message but it changed nothing so they have resigned themselves to Judging based upon superficial aspects of the Masquerade Bands rather than things like the presentation of the Theme, how well the costumes have been designed and made and the performance and energy of the Masqueraders.
The Banners you see today naming the presentation have a list of names that are all listed as designers of the costumes, and the sad truth is that most of them cannot draw or design. Today they look at a Factory Website, pick a bunch of costumes give it a name and that is how they create the band.
So for example let’s say a band is playing under the theme named “Life under the Sea”, as an observer you might expect to see a Costume designed to incorporate the appearance of Fishes, Star Fish or Coral, you will only see the same thing as you see each and every year which is another costume created from feathers and beads.
This is the sad reality of what was once a great festival called carnival.
(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)