I Hate Loud Music: Carnival in Trinidad

Excerpt rom article: I Hate Loud Music: Carnival in Trinidad. https://roamancing.com/2022/03/i-hate-loud-music-carnival-in-trinidad/

Imagine the Academy Awards, New Year’s Eve and World Cup Soccer, all rolled into the most important day of the year. It’s Carnival, and the Caribbean Island of Trinidad claims to have invented it in the new world. This is serious business, with contests, royalty (kings and queens of music), costumes, and newspaper articles offering everything from editorials (has Carnival in Trinidad become too Vegas or Brazilian?) to makeup tips and stretching exercises for those who plan to dance all night.

A contender for King, pulling his costume, as photographed by the Jacqueline Swartz. From article I Hate Loud Music: Carnival in Trinidad.

Tens of thousands of Trinidadians living abroad pour into their country every year for carnival. Many buy their costumes in advance, join a masquerade band, and live it up. But what’s it like for a first-timer? For me, pre-carnival started out as something I couldn’t wait to escape. You see, I hate loud music. I am here with other travel writers to cover the event.

At 3 am I am awakened by the mother of all wake up alarms: the throb of music so loud it shakes the panes of glass in my hotel room window. The thrum and blare of Soca (soul and calypso) music comes from a procession winding its way past the Trinidad Hilton, Carnival central because of its proximity to the main outdoor stadium.  But this is early Monday morning; Carnival is not until Tuesday (the day before Ash Wednesday).  The pre-dawn revellers are celebrating the weird Walpurgisnachtian ritual called J’ouvert, which in Trinidad opens the day before Carnival.

Having to be awake and ready to go at 3:45 am in a Hilton lobby is even more disorienting when the lobby is full, the bar is buzzing, night is day – and you’re surrounded by accountants and bespectacled computer nerds dressed as gladiators and Vegas showgirls.  They have come from London and Toronto, Milwaukee and Detroit.

Once on the street, in the dim light, I notice that this isn’t the Carnival of glitter and spangles; rather, J’ouvert Monday is about the shadow side of the celebration. People are dressed in rags; some are smeared with blue paint, others with mud.  The grunge look is supposed to have originated in the slaves = mockery of their masters, but today the effect is more Apocalypse Now meets the Night of the Living Dead.  I find this appealingly in synch with my mood.   I hate loud music. Loud – the kind you feel pounding your head, the kind that comes out of assault amplifiers. 

Continue reading: https://roamancing.com/2022/03/i-hate-loud-music-carnival-in-trinidad/

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