There’s no denying the fact that Carnival of yesteryear is truly a thing of the past. In recent years, the elements of Trini Carnival that made it outstanding and authentic to this country have somewhat disappeared, and in some instances, have been traded in for a more sophisticated Carnival atmosphere.
In a recent chat with former Road March and Power Soca Monarch champion, Fay Ann Lyons-Alvarez, she disclosed a level of concern regarding this reality, as she pointed out why the true sweetness of Carnival was fading away.
St Vincent people know how to party!
“We’ve become a bunch of Facebook posers. The rest of the islands still keep that authentic feting vibe,” said Lyons-Alvarez. Blatantly and without apology for her stinging words, the woman who has defeated other big names in the business, taking Road March titles in 2003, 2008 and 2009 and in 2009 winning both the Groovy and Power Soca Monarch titles, said she was bothered by what Carnival had become.
Lyons-Alvarez said her 2012 Road March contender, Miss Behave was geared toward people who loved to truly party. She explained that after analysing the market for sometime, she had realised that everyone’s hands had been in the air, thanks to the commands of her fellow entertainers. “I decided that since everybody up, I should just go down,” she said with a laugh. She said she then sat down and thought about the craziest thing she could do in light of this realisation, and recalled performing in St Vincent, where she had told the crowd to drop on the ground and roll. “The entire crowd dropped on the ground, because they
are people who know how to party,” she asserted.
The days of shorts and sneakers
Lyons-Alvarez said the reality is that people don’t have to drop on the ground and roll as the song says, but it is a call for true fete lovers to just be themselves, free-up and express themselves by being as crazy as their hearts desire. “It means enjoy yourself, relax. You don’t have to come to party in your best outfit. You don’t have to come in your best shoes, and please, leave your clutch and your handbags at home,” she urged. Lyons-Alvarez reminded women especially that fetes were not ceremonial functions, and short dresses, heels and clutches were not right items for feting. “The best dressed people in the venue supposed to be the artistes. They are creating a situation that will soon get them in trouble,” she retorted, adding, “I’m not saying don’t dress, but I’m saying if you look at the days of Superblue, Ronnie McIntosh and these artistes, when feters used to hit those fetes is short pants with T-shirts and vests. Now, I am seeing ladies in cocktail dresses with high heeled shoes and hand bags and when they get ‘bounce’, they vex,” said Lyons-Alvarez.
Why should foreigners come?
The soca queen pointed out that Trinbagonians were traditionally a jumping, waving, wining people that would feel the energy and jump with soca artistes, with big flags in hand. She lamented that slowly this tradition was fading away. Expressing sadness about this reality, Lyons-Alvarez called for Trinbagonians to wake up before it was too late. “I think there will even come a time when the tourists will say, ‘why are they giving us something that we are accustomed to.’ That’s like tourists coming to Trinidad to eat steak and potatoes,” she opined. “They come to Trinidad and Tobago to eat roti and doubles and pelau. We need to stop running from we, stop ‘foreignising’ ourselves,” she demanded.
Lyons-Alvarez said Trinbagonians were now trying to ‘foreignise’ themselves even in the way they partied and the way they ate and drank. The leading soca lady called for everyone to simply stop it. She said it made no sense for foreigners to spending so much money to come to T&T to get just what they were used to having in their countries. Sternly, the woman who is in the top three for the Road March title, said Trinbagonians must return to that authentic way of feting, where Carnival meant true revelry, freedom to express with no holds barred. She said if we remain on our current path, Carnival as we know it would soon be a distant memory.