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Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Urban Legends of Carnival

Wikipdeia defines an urban legend to be “a kind of folklore consisting of stories often thought to be factual by those circulating them. Urban legends are sometimes repeated in news stories and, in recent years, distributed by email. People frequently say such tales happened to a "friend of a friend" - so often, in fact, that FOAF has become a commonly used acronym to describe this sort of story. Urban legends are not necessarily untrue, but they are often false, distorted, exaggerated, or sensationalized.”

That brings me to the Urban Legends that surround Trinidad Carnival and yes, there are a few that I have heard happened to a “friend of a friend” yet I don’t know anyone personally who can say if it is really true.

Urban Legend number one, is quite popular, that is the one where for j’ouvert some women have been duped into dancing, wining and even doing unspeakable acts with a vagrant, usually mistaking him for just another “dirty” masquerader roaming the streets of Port of Spain. In the story the woman in question is almost always some high society chick who would be mortified if the story got out. I even heard this about an ex co-worker of mine, but added to that story was urban legend number two; sex on the streets for Carnival!

Everyone I know always has a story of someone they know who had sex in an inebriated state with some “stranger” either on top of a rooftop, or in an alley or behind the North Stand on Carnival Monday or Tuesday. These encounters are reported to be hot, heavy, laced with alcohol and after the strangers go their separate ways never to see each other again. Even my husband said when he was a teenager it was always a big thing to try and catch someone in the act, but alas neither he nor I have ever seen this, only heard the stories of friends of a friend.

The most bizarre Urban Legend I have heard to date is that many “mothers” dump their children at the hospital in lieu of hiring a babysitter for Carnival. The story goes that during Carnival week, mothers take their children to the hospital saying they are suffering from some “mysterious” illness, leaves the child there overnight for observation and never returns until Ash Wednesday! The rationale is that the hospital is as safe a place as any to leave the child; they will be fed, looked after and the mother does not have to think of looking after the child until she has had her fill of enjoying Carnival.

Another popular Urban Legend is that on Carnival Saturday you can get costumes so cheap that it is almost like getting it for free. I have heard this really happened to several people, but this year when I passed by the mas camp of a popular band to check out my friend’s section on Carnival Saturday there were people still coming to purchase costumes and they were being sold at the regular price. I really want to know who has gotten a costume for next to nothing on Carnival Saturday, if they got an entire costume and with what band.

I have also heard that the Dimanche Gras show is rigged, that certain calypsonians belong to a Lodge, hence the reason they wear large, ostentatious rings and that lots of "obeah" is practised in order for them to win. The Legend goes that Calysponians play dirty on that night, trying to sabotage other's in the name of victory. I have never even been to a Dimanche Gras show, but these are the stories I have heard coming out from that event.

The scariest Urban Legend to date has to be the one that circulated one year for Carnival, where people were talking about young men who were sticking persons with H.I.V. infected, blood filled syringes. Rumour had it that they were attacking women and there was some panic about going into Port of Spain for j'ouvert because of this. Of course it all started because this supposedly happened to a "friend of someone's friend"

Finally, the Urban Legend that I have been hearing from since I was a child has to do with a certain “marse” man, I have heard “them" say that Minshall’s band has a “Jumbie”. You know, I think it started with his portrayals of Calabash and The River where it was rumored that he was “dealing” and that was why someone got killed playing with his band every year! Now, I am not saying this is true in any way, form or fashion but when the young man got his head crushed under the tire of a Minshall truck I remember hearing the legend spreading like wildfire.

Since these are all the Urban Legends that I can remember, it would be interesting to hear other’s stories, you know, the ones that happen around Carnival time to a “friend of a friend”. So, feel free to share with me any Urban Legends of your own.


Earlier this month I wrote that Stephen Derek of D'Midas had launched his 2007 Carnival presentation "Amazonia a Place and Time" for Carnival 2007.

The website for D'Midas is now up, and I will not spoil it for anyone by giving my take on the costumes, but trust me, after seeing these few go check out the website for more information and photos!

click on photo for larger view

There are 15 sections, most priced under $1625.00 TT and it is interesting to note that they are celebrating 30 years of Stephen Derek in mas in 2007.
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