Experience Trinidad Carnival 2015 With LargeUp [Photos, Video + Music]
There's nothing to make you hate the Northern Hemisphere quite like the images emerging from Trinidad tonight--a blaze of color, sweat and drums that coats the small island from end to end. It's called Carnival.
Tales and photographs of exotic Carnival celebrations are really nothing new. Every year images of bright masks glittering in the sun make their way across travel sites and timelines, taunting onlookers who are grounded in frostier latitudes. But the Trinidad fete is truly something special, a mix of food, dress and music that pushes the limits of just how much joyful meaning can fit into one party. Okayplayer's partner in lime, LargeUp has been delivering consistently excellent coverage of the events in Trinidad, stories rich with understanding and affection for the lineage of Carnival and what it means to everyday citizens there.
Carnival in Trinidad, like most carnivals worldwide, is a final celebration before Ash Wednesday and the Christian season of Lent. As Machel Montano, the proverbial king of Carnival, told LargeUp last week "Carnival is like you party before you go in to pray." The celebration itself dates back to days of slavery, when slave owners gave their human property time to briefly pause from their harvest work and revel in some respite. But don't take our word for it, listen to Montano's wisdom below:
"What I’ve noted when I look at the pictures from Carnival over the years, in news or social media, is that most of the images are one-dimensional, the main focus being on feathers and bikinis," read the notes of photographer Colin Williams's LargeUp photo essay of last year's festivities."So I have always tried to get strong images from all of Trinidad Carnival. The Old Mas. The Midnight Mas. The Original Mas. The Dirty Mas. The Oil. The Mud. The Pan. The Jab. The Kids. The Old People. The Onlookers."
The "mas" that Williams mentions refers, of course, to Trinidadians' love of masquerade ball--all throughout Carnival players dress in ornate costume, usually as menacing creatures. Partiers in mas parade through parties all week long, keeping the lively a tradition of dress going throughout almost every carnival function. But, as Montano notes, music has always been the festival's main motor, and this year's events are sure to prove no different. Under the spirit of liberation from the yearlong daily grind, Trinidadians dress up (or dress down) and surrender to the sound of soca. Keeping that in mind, the LargeUp crew worked diligently to compile a mixtape roundup of Carnival-ready tunes, and also tapped into Montano's dense catalog to ensure that even those stuck in the digital bandstands will be able to revel in the revel. Carnival is a beautiful and fleeting moment of vibrant self-expression. Relive some of it and clear your 2016 schedule--next year we'll be seeing in in Port of Spain.
>>>LargeUp's Roundup Carnival Mixes
>>>LargeUp's list of Machel Montano tracks.