This is the most exhausted I’ve been in my entire life. Why, you ask? It’s because I just left Miami Carnival, where I played Mas.
Let me explain what all that means. According to amplifyafrica, ” Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago originated in the late-eighteenth century and was born out of resistance. French planters, slaves, and freed people of color from neighboring islands immigrated to Trinidad following the Spanish Cedula of Population Edict of 1783. Shortly after immigration, the French settlers, and freed people of color alike held annual masquerade balls. The slaves, who were excluded from the masquerades, decided to enact their own form of Carnival in the slave quarters where they were allowed a modicum of freedom. Their merriments came to be known as ‘Canboulay’ or ‘Cannes Bruleés’ since they were held at the same time as the burning and harvesting period for sugar cane.”
So, major cities around the world celebrate Carnival annually. The dates vary, however. Miami’s Carnival takes place the second weekend in October.
If you ever decide to attend, there are a few things you’ll need to be aware of.
What to expect, when you’re expecting to go to Carnival:
First, you’ll need to plan it out months in advance. You’ll need to decide if you’re playing Mas or just watching the festivities. Playing Mas means you are wearing a costume and walking in the parade. Typically, bands (groups in the parade) announce costume sales nearly 6 months before the event. Yes, the costumes are expensive. However, they come with food, drink, and party tickets. I usually play with One Island Band.
Next, you’ll need to find a place to stay. Some of the parties/ events are held in Fort Lauderdale, while others are in Miami. I guess your preference probably depends on cost and your willingness to drive/Uber. There are also deals with bus transportation companies to pick you up for these events. The major events, Jouvert and Carnival, take place on Saturday and Sunday at the Miami Fairgrounds.
Lastly, are you taking friends? I think you should. You could go solo, but that could be cumbersome and dangerous. Most of the events end late and typically involve a whole lot of whining. People can get too handsy at times. Also, the costumes are sort of tough to put on alone. You’ll definitely need assistance with all the tying and hooking things up. Plus, going with a group is more fun. Make sure to follow my Instagram for up to date postings!
What to bring:
Each party usually has a theme. Dress accordingly. Party in flats or sneakers because your feet will hurt.
Your country’s flag
Sneakers you plan to throw away or water shoes
Paint, chalk, and possibly water guns
Jouvert tshirt (if you’re playing Mas)
Baby wipes (the portable restrooms run out of tissue)
Head covering (to protect your hair from water and paint)
Plenty of water
Safety pins, just in case
Your bracelets: to ensure you get your food and alcohol
Lysol and baby wipes
Have you been to Carnival? What was your experience?