Saucy – Can you please give a run down on what to expect on actual Carnival day – like costume pick up, food, drinks, rest periods. Does the band really so all night or do they break off and meet back on Tuesday and until what time.
Costume Pick Up:
This information is usually disclosed about two weeks before Carnival with a notice on the band’s website,via email and press advertisements. informing of the costume collection period. Each section is assigned a specific day for pick up and they stress that you can only collect THAT costume on THAT day. However, if you an overseas masquerader you also have one day set aside for those who will be coming to Trinidad the week of Carnival. On the day of costume pick up you pay off the balance on your costume (if you have not done so before) collect your box/bag with your costume, inspect all the pieces to make sure you have gotten everything advertised especially look for your security bands; one for all-inclusive and one that allows you to be in the band (imprinted with the name of your band). Then you oogle your goody bag (which has lots of useful stuff like nail polish,glitter etc) and if you have any queries look for someone in charge and have your issue addressed. This year TRIBE also gave out a little info booklet with practical information like the line up of the sections, meeting places and times for Monday and Tuesday etc. Most bands will give you a flyer of some sort with this information.
After Jourvert get home and get some rest, make sure and get all the paint/mud off your body. Then start getting ready to go and meet the band, most bands meet between 11:00 am to 12:00 noon at a pre determined venue/assembly point. When you find the band you fall in your section, or the section of your friends, family or significant other that you will be hanging out with for the day. The vibe on Monday is total freedom, as you don’t have to worry about looking cute in your fancy costume.If your band is all-inclusive no lunch is served but you do get snacks, and the first thing you should do is take a drink for the road! The band then parades through the streets along a route that takes you through Port of Spain, St. James and to the Savannah where you get 5 minutes of glory to run wild for the camera on stage. Next year’s route is uncertain since there are no plans for a Savannah stage. You dance, wine and jump up until sundown, some people go later but by 6:00pm to 7:00pm I usually look to head out of Port of Spain.
You will be so excited that you wake up early since the band meets between 7:00 am and 8:00 am. So, you have to get dressed, made up and leave the house as soon as the sun comes up. If you have not had breakfast and are playing in an all-inclusive band, don’t worry breakfast is served on the road as soon as you meet the band. If your band is not all-inclusive eat breakfast please! As you get your first look of the band in full costume you start checking out other costumes, admiring the ones that looked so much better on the road and those that did not live up to the photos. Mingle, greet your friends and section mates , the excitment builds as the music pumps you up. Finally you start moving, the band will continue along the same or similar route as Monday, it might be a slower movement since more bands come out on Tuesday. Occasionally you might get stuck behind another band and your band either waits or goes another route. Music will be at full blast of course, the front line H.O.s will be looking pretty and lots of people will be lining the streets to look at you in costume, you will feel like a beauty pageant contestant, all eyes on you! Your destination is the Savannah stage and everyone wants to get there early. As your quest to enter the Savannah nears you will have to wait, usually in one spot, inching forward until you can actually see the stage and all the spectators.The sun will be beating down on you at this time but you will be too filled with adrenaline and Johnny Walker to care. At that time you will be asked to get in your sections and the drinks trucks will disappear to the side of the band. As you inch towards the stage anticipation grows, you see other masqueraders already on stage having a ball and you cannot wait for your turn, security will be in place keeping sections from running unto the stage before time. The frontline H.O.s will be to the front of the section and security allows them onstage first then they open the man barrier and allow you to charge forward like a banshee from hell. Nothing I write can describe what it is like for those 10 minutes or so of wild frenzied abandonment, you have to experience it yourself. Too soon security will start gently ushering the maquerders off the stage with some slipping past to go back and join the other section poised to come on stage. Coming down the ramp is like coming down from your high. Faces of strangers will greet you at the end of the ramp, some looking for a friend or family member while others, including the kids, are looking to beg for piece of your costume. As you politely say no and move on you look for the rest of your section and keep moving. At this time the band is ready for a lunch stop (if your band is all-inclusive) and you make your way to a park at St. Clair where lunch stations are set up. This is your only official rest period; you partake of the food, drinks, relax , use the rest rooms, fix your makeup and catch your breath before hitting the road again. Your legs will feel as if they are rubber after that little rest but you have to press on, ideal time to take a drink for gas as the day is long from over. Your route may take you to other judging points (you are also judged at the Savannah) where you will be required to get into sections again. There is no big stage to cross , you will be jumping up on the street in front of judges and spectators (also you can cross these judging points before getting to the Savannah). A variety of snacks are served in the afternoon, from sno cone to boil corn to ice cream and lollies. As security becomes more lax as the day comes to a close the “stormers” (non costumed civilians) do try and fall in the band. The dancing through the streets continue as the band’s route takes you through St. James and as it begins to get dark some people start making their way to where their cars are parked, the traffic to get out of Port of Spain is usually terrible and some try to get out early. The die hard Carnival babies press on until long after it gets dark, I cannot say how late they stay because I am ready to head home by 8:00pm. And as you leave the band and head towards your car, with no music spurring you on and saturated with alcohol your feet will start to hurt like you never believe, feeling like lead with every step you take all you will be doing is praying to sit down fast! Finally, as you make your way out of Port of Spain and Carnival Tuesday comes to a close, the last strains of Machel’s song hits you from a music truck that passes by and you smile,wondering to yourself how long until you can do it all over again!
I did not write this. All thanks to Saucy aka The Sauce and her blog, Trinidad Carnival Diary.