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Saturday, 4 March 2017

Carnival In Trinidad

We came, we saw, we danced - Carnival in Trinidad is one very long and VERY LOUD mobile dance party.  Feathers, lycra, bangles, beads, fishnet stockings and lots of exposed flesh was the dress code.  Skimpy, tight, stretchy and bright, with no worries about body image here mon. All shapes, sizes and ages were out there strutting their stuff in the "Pretty Mas" parade. Some groups seemed to have a theme, some were more keen on brilliant colours and lots, lots of flesh, but they were all out parading, shuffling and boogying around Port Of Spain.

The large groups danced to VERY LOUD local Soca music.  Did I say VERY LOUD ?  Yes, well it was VERY LOUD.  Many people wore ear plugs all day, which made conversation a little difficult. Each dance group or "band" had it's own mobile DJ system, a huge array of speakers on a long semitrailer, with a large diesel generator to keep it all pumping. No way could you hear the generators, even from 6 feet away.  IT WAS ALL VERY LOUD.  The speaker trucks were followed closely by the Liquid Refreshment Truck, which mixed rum and what ever you fancied at record breaking speed.
DJ music truck

Carnival in Trinidad is a business, so you pay your money to join a group, get the costume with all the finery and a large mug, with which to drink from the free flowing booze truck.  After the booze truck comes another flatbed truck with a line of Portaloos - a very necessary need for the thirsty drinkers - er dancers.  The largest groups had up to nine trucks, surrounded by hundreds and hundreds of dancers. At various locations there are judging positions where each group stops and performs, swaying, shimmying and moving to the Soca rhythm. The groups are judged on these performances and on the creativity and presentation of the "band" and the costumes of the "kings" or "queens". At the end of the day the votes are tallied and some one wins a lot of money. In reality it is Trinidad that wins, as at least 20% of the participants are tourist, who pay up to US$1000.00 to join the parade.

One of the songs that was played over and over was Full Extreme, by MX Prime and Multiple Rejects.  It was played an unbelievable 556 times throughout the day - you can listen to it here.

So what did we do for 7 hours?  We found a rooftop bar that overlooked the parade, of course.  For a reasonable fee it provided us with a base to come and go, enjoy a cold drink, eat, and spend time with locals and other tourists who were all there to watch the parade and have fun. At street level we were often submerged in feathers and bodies as the revelers broke ranks from the parade and mingled on the footpaths.  The bigger bands had ropes to keep some sort of order, but generally chaos ruled.  The rain came down, there were lots of wet droopy feathers and slippery bodies, but it was all good fun.