As a Jamaican jumping in Trinidad carnival it is easy to lose touch, or never touch in the first place, the history of mas in Trinidad.
This festival has its roots as far back as the 18th century in Trinidad and has over literally hundreds of years evolved into what I consider the greatest spectacle it is possible to partake in on EARTH!
In the last century it has grown more and more diverse with the advent of steel pan and calypso. It has seen the creation of intricate costumes that tell stories all on their own and the birth of bands who’s collective glory can take the breath away.
Recently more and more visitors have started to reach Trinidad’s shores to experience this. In response bands have changed to give them something somewhat different from the old time traditional experience of mas.
The new fangled mas is a combination of a “pretty” (read skimpy) costume and a road party that would make most nightclubs green with envy. They are all filled to capacity with revellers trying to squeeze as much partying out of two days as possible.
This, for the most part, has left the traditionalists somewhat upset. From the little I have heard, many Trini’s seem to want a return of the pretty mas of old and less of the hedonistic “party rules over all” attitude of today.
Fuzz or Kevlar?
In essence there are two type of masqueraders from a simplistic, male oriented point of view. The first is the traditionalist, the mas man. The desire to go “old school” may vary in intensity, but to them the costume, and the artistic expression it brings, is the focal point. The other type is the carnival commando. He is highly trained in the art of wine, cyaa tiyad and drinks like he’s got a wooden leg. A REAL party goer. On rare occasion one person can embody these two ideals.
As a man, and a Jamaican, I have to admit that I fall squarely in the commando section. By lunch my costume is either in shambles or has been thrown away as punishment for hindering some long forgotten wine.
My thoughts on the matter are that carnival is Big…HUGE….there is more than enough space for the traditionalist and the Commando to co-exist. Just find your niche.
I come from a land where carnival is ONLY for the commando’s. If you come to Jamaica carnival leave your fuzzy hat at home!
HOW DO YOU ROLL?