Carnival, Trinidad Carnival

Trinidad Carnival: You Ain’t Easy!

The Early Years

I’ve been a soca-holic since birth. I remember the good ole days when I was around seven years old listening to calypso cassette tapes and vinyl soca records that were in the house. Byron Lee was my dude; I can never forget that risqué album cover he had with three women in thong bikini’s showing their bamsy to the world! It’s a classic. Anywho! I clearly remember my mother (she’s gonna kill me) showing me how to wine. One evening we were listening to some chunes and she says “come on Mair let’s dance”. In the midst of that she starts giving me instructions then all of a sudden she braced herself (side-song: brace-brace-brace and wine) on one of our dining room chairs, pushed back her bamsy (side song: push ya bumpah, push-push bumpah) and then starting rolling her waist (side-song: roll, roll it gyal, roll it gyal). I laughed and then copied her….it’s been a wrap since then! Sorry for the side songs; they popped into my head as I was typing lol. 

I was a late bloomer on the masquerader scene. I’ve always attended carnivals but never really thought about playing mas until 2009 when my bestie went to Crop Over and had ah time! Her photo’s made me so jealous. I was definitely in dat the next year. Once you play mas you can’t go back! Thus far I have chipped my way down the roads of Barbados, Grenada, Atlanta, Boston and of course Miami. 

Now, they say you ain’t play mas until you go to TNT carnival. I do believe that to be true. For years I’ve honestly never felt the urge to go. I’m not quite sure why. In addition, my work schedule never matched up with the event. I work in a school, so taking vacation time in February is usually a challenging task. But! Guess who’s going to Trinidad Carnival 2k15…. meee! The calendar at work was looking pretty good and I was able to make it happen! I purchased my ticket mad long ago and got a sweet hook up on lodging. I was hesitant to fly with LIAT and Caribbean airlines after the Grenada fiasco but I didn’t have a choice. I managed to secure my flights to and from Tobago before the booking madness so I am in good shape. 

Since my ticket was booked and lodging was set. It was then time to get cracking on the costume and parties. I started doing my own research and pondered on praises and rants from friends who have attended in the past. I made mental notes over the years and now it was time to put them into action. As far as bands go, I knew I wanted to play with Island People Mas no matter what. I recall a conversation I had with a man during Grenada carnival:

Man: You need to experience Trinidad Carnival

Sha: I know! I’m going in February!

Man: Yeah? You should play with Tribe or Fantasy. That’s who all the tourists and overseas people usually play with

Sha: *gives side eye and dumb look* Why on earth would I want to play with a bunch of tourists?!! That’s dumb.

Man: *laughs* oh oh sorry sorry!!!

Who I look like?! I need to be with people who ain’t stush and who ain’t worried about losing a few jewels off they panty!

The Costume Selection

I was already mentally prepared to pay an arm, leg, and upper torso for these Trinidad costumes. Some of these are twice, if not three times as much as what I’ve paid at other carnivals. I’m hoping that their treat bags, service, food and drink trucks are all worth it at the end of the two days. Anyways, YUMA costumes had launched but I had tunnel vision so none of their costumes were crying out to me at that time. I patiently waited on IP. Tribe had launched as well and all I heard was crickets when I looked at their costumes. I also didn’t hear a lot of things about them that were attractive to me so they were not an option. Now let the frustration begin. Weeks pon weeks have gone by and I practically stalked the IG and FB pages of Island People. I even sent a few emails and messages asking about the launch. They would always respond with specific dates but would never follow through after that. Red flags were popping up all over the place. Still…I was patient. Then they had the little secret launch and then it took another week (maybe 2) before the website went up. THEN, even though the website was up (beautiful site by the way) you still couldn’t register. I threw in the towel. The false hope and lack of consistent communication made me wonder what was happening over in IP world. I figured I didn’t want to be involved with that for my first TNT adventure so I let that go. 

I hit up my girl who was playing with YUMA and within a few hours I was contacted by a representative and 24 hours later I had a costume. No drama. No hassle and information was flowing without me even having to ask. Is the costume one I would have chosen if I selected when they first launched? Absolutely not. But, the YUMA service spoke volumes. Quite frankly, I ain’t worried about the appearance of the costume because I’m confident that I’m gonna make it werk…#IJS. Now, do I have a lil envy for my friend who will be strutting the IP costume I was drooling over…ABSOLUTELY. But it’s all good because I’m in a band that most of my peeps will be in so I’m quite satisfied. I need a plethora of friend options just in case I lose somebody in the ocean of people. 

Let’s Talk Fetes

I’ve been spoiled since starting my journey in smaller carnivals. I appreciate it when efforts are made by promoters to accommodate overseas revelers. For some reason, most Trinidad event organizers like to operate on that whole “connection” system. You can’t just buy a ticket online for some of these fetes. You have to know someone or have attended the event before to be on the “PRIORITY” list. Don’t get me wrong; I understand. But, just because I understand doesn’t mean I like it (wink). And honestly, I think it’s fine when you have to do this for more selective events but when folk try to pull this for everything it’s a turn off. I am NOT chasing people down to give them my hard earned money! Keep ya fete!

So anyway, I did some research and asked my friends which fetes they were attending. In addition, I downloaded a full fete list off of Trini Jungle Juice. From the list and recommendations I received I wrote down the ones that I would like to attend. I wasn’t going fete crazy because these Trinidad fete prices be looking’ real foolish. Thus far, I’m attending Vale, Soca Brainwash, Caesar’s Army Ambush and Roast Cruise. NO, I’m not spending $215 to go to nobody’s Beach House. NO, I’m not attending Silent Morning (I already have a boat ride). NO, I’m not going to Sunny Side Up. Why am I not going to these fetes? Because I’m responsible, I’m not rich and I’m not going bankrupt! At the end of the day, a party is a party. This is my first year in TNT so if I don’t attend a fete I’m honestly not going to know what I missed. I have more trips coming up and I will not be one of the people using their entire tax return on Trinidad Carnival (No offense). 

And finally, NO, I’m not going to Wine Down Cruise in Tobago. Why?…LET ME TELL YOU (go get a snack first).

So, like a week before they launched the promotion I sent an email requesting to be added to their communications so that I could be informed when tickets opened up. My friends also put me down on their list so that I could get the friend hook up. So I wait patiently. Then, I email them again and am informed that general “regular people” tickets will launch soon. I received a few more “it’s coming” emails with updates which confirmed that they had added me to the waiting list as I requested. Then, like a week or two later I get an email that said the time to purchase your ticket has expired and you have now been added to the waiting list. EXCUSE ME?! I was too vexed. Immediately typed an email asking about the tickets and was informed that they sent me an invitation to purchase. I said no I did not. Then a little birdie told me to check my junk mail. YUP there it was. I was furious. For the life of me I could not understand why that happened. You’re already in my “allowed” contacts but this email…OF ALL EMAILS goes to my junk…NO PROBLEM. There is more to this story involving a new boat with a new time that I won’t discuss. EXCEPT TO SAY…that the information I received about this new boat was misleading, not true and not further communicated as promised…but I digress. During the Wine Down cruise I will be somewhere in Tobago getting a full body massage sipping on something strong. I now have a bad taste in my mouth for Candy Coated Events…not quite sure when that taste going to go away.


The Candy Coated Vibes Vessel Post Responsible for this Update LOL!

So, a few hours after I posted this lovely blog post my friends start tagging me and sending me messages on WhatsApp saying that Candy Coated has opened up a few spots again. Mind you I’m driving. On top of that I’m wondering if I should stick to my guns, save my money and continue to plan my spa day in Bago while errbody else parties is up on Nylon Pool. I say what the heck just try since it was on your original wish list. Due to this urgent matter, I make a sharp turn and pull over to read the Candy Coated FB post and send my email to them. Then I sent another email (before getting a response) to clarify that I was indeed on the original wait list. I just wanted to add some clarity lol. About 10 minutes later after I get home I see an email from CC. I was informed that they were adding a Vibes Vessel and tickets would be on sale on Friday; emails invites would once again be sent in order to purchase tickets (insert anxiety). I thank them for their speedy reply and prepared myself for Friday. I cleared my junk box, starred them as a VIP in my email contacts and flagged the old emails. The Junk Box demon was not going to strike again.

Surprisingly, I saw another email from CC shortly after their previous communication; I wondered what this email could have been about. The individual informed me that they had read this blog post. I Immediately started laughing and had to come back to the post to recall all that I had written. They shared detailed information about the circumstances surrounding the waiting list and additional seats that had opened up prior to the Vibes Vessel. They expressed that the junk mail situation was not a fault of theirs (which I already knew…wasn’t blaming them for that) but they also expressed that they hoped the “bad tasting candy will be washed away” LOL. Apparently my email was high on the original waiting list so I should be expecting an email to purchase on Friday. They said “make sure you don’t send us to the JUNK this time”! I was on the floor. Love the humor.

But again, just for clarity I wasn’t blaming them for the junk mail mishap. Shoot, I’m not even blaming Gmail…they were just doing their job protecting my account. My earlier disappointment with Candy Coated came when my emails were not being responded to and when the follow up information about open seats was not communicated. I understand that things get busy and I can only imagine the emails that the CC crew were getting but communication is crucial. No hard feelings Candy Coated! Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and thank you for your recent communication efforts…the bad tasting candy is on its way out and I look forward to my invitation to purchase!


On a more positive side, I think my line up will be just right for me. If a nice, fairly cheap fete opportunity arises for Thursday or Friday before carnival I might indulge. I’m mainly looking forward to my time on the road and the experience I’ll get at AMbus and Private Ryan’s Soca Brainwash event. You know he’s da man! 

Next time you hear about TNT I’ll be there! With a full T’ingz Nice review and play by play of each day.

I realize its a hassle to comment here on the blog but feel free to comment on Instagram @socajukebox or @tingznice.