“Carnival is ah true freedom
Make ah noise or ah joyful sound
And jump up in de air” It’s Carnival: Destra Garcia feat. Machel Montano
“Carnival is energy and energy is power” A. Welch
I ought to start by qualifying this with a statement, like please note I have only played mas once, this level of debauchery is not in my nature – but I can’t, sadly I have only played mas once.
I stem from a conservative home and quite frankly I am one of those whose closet consists of mostly dark colours, long sleeves and trousers; lots and lots of baggy trousers that do not fit right. To be fair I am petite and you’d be surprised how difficult it is to get size 00 clothing in a country when the greater majority of the population is more on the average or over average waistline. I like being covered and I love being comfortable. I wear trainers to work, my feet must be comfy for the walk up from the taxi terminal to the office, also I do not delight in the feel of the harsh heat on my skin. Technically, I am an island girl but in my total existence I have had roughly four heat strokes. So my tolerance for hot weather isn’t exactly on the larger end of the scale. Those two things – the lack of clothing and the ‘hot sun’ have rendered playing mas as a non- entity on my bucket list.
But I did.
After I sprayed myself in SPF 100, pretty much emptying the can, I pulled on my glossy tights and donned my costume (turquoise is my colour), I secretly thought that I looked stunning but I’d never dream too say it aloud. Coincidentally when I met up with the other masqueraders, they were all equally gorgeous. Maybe it was the flamboyance of the costume, the perfect merger of turquoise and purple feathers, or the jeweled bikini top with the glamorous bikini bottom belt. Stunning. Or was it semi naked bodies, wrapped in bright feathers and glitter like exotic birds?
The freedom, elation and euphoria that go with Carnival can be equated to parasailing over the Caribbean Sea or the high you feel when you’ve had your first hot air balloon ride over an Arizona desert watching the sunrise. Have you ever been to a club and wanted to release your hips, gyrate or behave in a manner which is not in accordance with couth and etiquette but that little voice inside you screams a lady doesn’t behave that way? Women don’t often get to be free of labels, imagine this; a woman goes to a club walks up to a man and settles her butt on his for a slow gyrate. Never going to happen! But if it did – there would be some ramifications there would be a looming slap and possibly a cat fight, or by the end of the night you can bet your bottom dollar that her name would be mud and she would continue to be the source of much gossip, social media entertainment and negative labeling post the event.
One of the most beautiful things about Carnival – is that it seems as though Carnival is the one place people truly get to be equal (sans death). Other than everyone there is there to have a good time, to share in the energy, the freedom and the overall euphoria that is Carnival. There is an unspoken respect that goes with the road. Maybe it is because everyone is there for the same purpose- to have the time of their life or maybe it’s the euphoria, the endorphins produced from the dancing and movement, for some reason there seems to be this unspoken road rule, no one harasses you. You may exchange a look with a random stranger, a laugh, maybe a quick wine and then they carry on their way to ‘teef ah wine’ on someone else. No judgment, no disrespect, no condemnation.
I’ve clubbed in Central London, Partied at the Gap in Barbados, enjoyed the vibes of Ibiza and ‘bruk out’ in Trinidad Carnival fetes but nothing can top that feeling, the high you get when you’re dancing on the road, you feel a sense of standing out but blending in at the same time. It’s four years since I’ve had that little treat and it was amazing, some may judge but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. The music, the power, the high – cannot be surpassed. It would be lovely to do it again but it is an expensive little treat. So we’ll see what the future holds.
Playing mas didn’t make it on my bucket list but I am glad I did it and I hope it makes your bucket list. Enjoy playing mas no matter where it is and do your research. Smaller bands tend to be able to cater to crowds a bit better than larger bands (because they have less people to accommodate), all inclusive means you don’t have to worry about food or drink. All in all have an awesome time crossing this one off your bucket list.
Thank you to Chez Zen Nation for the amazing costume, the make-up, the food and drinks being available on time and no shortages. Overall thank you for an awesome experience.
A list of Carnivals:
LA Hollywood Carnival – June 21st – 24th 2018
Barbados Crop Over – June 25th – August 8th 2018
London Notting Hill – August 26th – 27th 2018
Rio de Janeiro – March 1st – 9th 2019
Trinidad – March 4th – 5th 2019
Jamaica Carnival: Bacchanal – Easter Weekend annually
It’s Carnival – Destra Garcia feat Machel Montano