Everything Related to the Steelpan Instrument and Music
The large bikini Mas bands have abandoned the Savanah for the Socadrome. The greatest steel orchestras in the world are playing to an empty Grand Stands at 3:00 am in the morning. And the streets of Port of Spain as Mr. Rubadiri Victor showed are empty on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. Maybe this is truly an opportunity for the steelband to go back on the road.
To the powers that be in T&T what we are getting for Pan & Mas is "SHAMEFUL" get your act together. SOON
The present administration is busy fighting to stay in power so I don't think they will be trying to fix anything.
Hmmm! A whirlwind or problems!
Nice comment Lillian Sten.
The fact that this site has generated such obviously heartfelt reaction to the Carnival degeneration issue dramatizes one of the central problems back on the ground where the decline unfolds without letup. And that's the absence of any serious, organized pushback against what any half-alert individual can recognize as a critical frittering away of Carnival's core values. I recall reading in the T&T press after the 2013 Carnival of some folks having met at a venue in Port of Spain to address concerns about the very matter of the Carnival's downward spiral. I never heard anything further about that effort, and it begs the assumption that, well-meaning as it may have been, it probably served merely as a "gallery" opportunity for whoever felt they could best talk the talk. Serious pushback clearly requires more than that.
I very much disagree with the comment earlier expressed that the problem began when the government got directly involved in the Carnival and, in so many words, "took it away from the people". Indeed, when the government first became directly involved in 1957, it was with precisely the opposite objective of making the festival more representative of the people and ending a Jaycees hold on what reeked of class division where, for instance in 1955, a Carnival queen gets prizes totaling $7500. and the guy adjudged calypso king gets fifty dollars as his prize. Emphasis on queen (and king) of the bands rather than Carnival queen came with government's intervention, further underscoring the desire for a populist thrust in Carnival.
Over the years the government has evidently lapsed in its caretaker role -- not being as vigilant as it might about what should or should not take place in the Carnival. I would mention one item that isn't a major part of the problem, but exemplifies caretakers not being fully engaged. We continue to have a so-called Carnival road march, in a situation that totally contradicts the original road march intent. The rigged, deejay-controlled stuff that has obtained for years now is an abomination, with nothing at all to do with musicians (pan and otherwise) spontaneously playing music they think masqueraders favor, and it should have been dispensed with years ago. But more importantly, there are too many instances of the government allowing things to reach an "inmates running the asylum" level. Government's working with various stakeholders is altogether appropriate. But not to the point of, in some instances, veritably handing over the keys to the kingdom and risking things going haywire.
Peter Minshall sounded a caution some years ago about what was then the approaching menace of big trucks in such profusion as to despoil the Carnival tableau. That feared menace has of course now become an in-your-face reality. I'm sorry, but if a free enterprise system means allowing an unseemly number of pollution-spewing trucks clogging the roadways in this "people's festival", we need to revisit our concept of free enterprise. And this applies no less with what's permitted in other aspects of Carnival that have occasioned changes in the social dynamic that a great majority of the public finds troubling. And let's call it as it is, there's a lot of that to be found when Carnival loses its moorings in creative artistry and imagination and passion and becomes dominated by hucksters taking advantage of an overwhelming female presence in the street romp, to reduce the spectacle to mass-produced fluff.
In the matter of the now customary overflow of female forms, incidentally, some of us ought be mindful of how mistaken an impression it is to suggest that, "we should forget about the Brazil thing" in our 'dis' of what now goes down in T&T. Anyone familiar with samba school preparation and presentation in Brazil knows that this in no way correlates with the nakedly commercial impulse that drives that action with our "new-age" Carnival bands.
As for the pan re-emerging as the great white knight to help in a turnaround of our tattered street masquerade tradition, it will require a sea change which I am hesitant to believe pan people, as a body, will be prepared to undertake. The challenge of getting young persons accepting of pan music as party music at this stage of the journey is an awesome one -- probably too awesome to overcome, especially while pan people remain in Panorama's vice grip.
Serious, organized pushback is a heavy lift for the T&T psyche of today. But it is, I fear, the only path of possible deliverance from the Carnival woes so many of us now acknowledge.
Nice comment Les, it is the job of the caretakers to be fully engaged.
A return to the days of Class Separation in Carnival
Les the Socadrome has been a source of concern for me since its inception. You have explained what no one was saying publically or wanted to touch - What is the Socadrome ultimately about and who is it for? Who benefits from it? It is a unapologetic return to the days, as you so elegantly described, of the "Jaycees hold on what reeked of class division" on Carnival. They have their own stadium, their own carnival route and their own select people.
Very well written and good sentiments-I have said over twenty
ty years ago that our carnival is a dying monolith -it is a serious issue of the Emperor who wore no clothes-and what I would say is 'the Blind leading the Blind'.
How shameful that it has reached to this and the authorities has to called this 'the greatest show on earth ?.
They are all mad down there-move all of them and start all over again.
Les, I would to hear your opinion on a separate day for the steelband, carnival Monday or Tuesday?