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Thursday, March 18, 2010

Trinidad Carnival - Sunny Side Up

Greetings peeps, Kermit here welcoming you to Sunny Side Up 2010, one of Trinidad Carnival’s premiere breakfast fetes. I will admit that after last year’s fete, there was a feeling among my crew that SSU may have plateaued and it was proposed that in 2010 we make a turn to the Vale Fete to see what the scene was like over there. We made what we thought were concrete arrangements in November and when February reached and we realized that we had been given a “look-left-go-right” for the tickets we decided that we would do SSU one more time and boy were we glad that we did.

We arrived at around 4:30 am (our usual time) and after eating a solid breakfast (as usual) we filled our cups with strong drink and claimed our spot between the foam spout/foam cannon and the sprinklers (as usual) and as I stood in the cool Trinidad early morning sipping a cocktail and watching the crowd filter in, I experienced feelings of contentment with the 2010 carnival season as it had unfolded thus far. Despite the fact that I had only arrived 2 days ago, my carnival season, though short, had been very eventful as you have no doubt seen from my earlier commentaries. The partying had been excellent, the usual carnival Saturday beach lime was excellent, and here I was this morning hoping to repeat a usually excellent experience.By now you have no doubt noticed my frequent use of the word “usual”.

This by no means should be taken as a criticism due to the fact that since I very much like to enjoy carnival to the max, I only attend events where I would “usually” have a great time and SSU definitely fits that bill. At SSU you know what you are going to get year after year namely: great food, great drinks, great music, and most importantly of all great people; people who enjoy diving in the foam and washing off and cooling down in the sprinklers; people who may not look like your usual crowd but you don’t care because they definitely have the same goals, i.e. having plenty fun. This level of ease in a fete is very welcoming and it was quite a surprise when I noticed something highly un-usual taking place….. I was bouncing! “Bouncing?” you ask. “Bouncing!” I reply. “Since when is bouncing unusual in a fete?” you counter. “Since both my feet are squarely in contact with the floor yet my body is following the path of a smooth sine curve – up and down and up and down!”

Peeps, I exaggerate not! One minute I was standing still and getting my drink/gape on, and the next thing I knew, I was up and down like a see-saw. Since SSU takes place quite literally in a closed-off street, the organizers built platforms over the sidewalks in an attempt to protect the grass growing on the sidewalks from being destroyed. These platforms appeared to be a simple wooden frame covered with painted plywood and should one simply stand on it, it would act just like that, a platform. However, at the onset of group jumping, group wining, or group bouncing, the platform dynamic changes completely and it becomes more like a trampoline than a motionless floor and this trampoline effect’s influence is not limited to the area close to the aforementioned group action. Hell to the naw peeps, it becomes a Peter-pays-for-Paul scenario and is like all ah we name Paul because every man-jack was moving whether you intended to or not.

Now when I say moving, I don’t mean a slight hop, I mean a sizeable jump. I am not a small person and during a piece of particularly wild palancery I deliberately tried to simply stand on the platform and I found all 238 lbs of my froggish self airborne. These platforms extended for most of the length of the street and, from all appearances, were consistently springy everywhere. At first I was somewhat concerned that the plywood would break but then I thought that even if it did crack, there really wasn’t too far to fall and besides, it is not like people would be jumping like mad all morning as sooner or later they would get tired and the oscillations would subside. (Most of you should have chuckled at this last statement and immediately seen the folly of my thinking but for the 4% that didn’t, please allow me to explain.)

Trinidadians like wildness, wait, let me rephrase that, Trinidadians LOVE wildness. SSU was the first breakfast fete to introduce foam to the experience and when my fellow Trinis saw this, not only did they embrace this new diversion, they quite literally threw themselves in it. For the first years of foam, a lake usually formed under the foam machine and not only did people wine and prance under the foam stream and cover themselves from head to toe in it, they lay down on the ground and immersed themselves completely in it. This of course resulted in several accidental mashings and as a result, in subsequent years the foam volume and density was adjusted to protect the more exuberant of the wildness-partakers. After witnessing (and documenting) this, why in the world would I think that temperance would be exercised when faced with this new and exciting amusement?

True to form, once the masses discovered that this springy and seemingly miraculously bendy surface existed, they set upon it with a vigor that belied the earliness of the hour and as the sun rose, its golden rays shone down on a fete that had a solid mass of people wining in the middle of the road bracketed on either side by two columns of bouncing, flailing, palancing, foot-in-the-air, holding-on-for-dear-life-to-a-tree people doing their best to test the limits of the platform’s elasticity. It was truly a sight to see and try as I might to capture the moment on film, the images I recorded were woefully inadequate representations of the fluidity and elegance I beheld. To see a Trini pelting waist during carnival is a wonderful sight and is of itself a study in grace and athleticism, but to combine this sinuous activity with a constantly undulating floor elevates the act to an art form. If you were there to witness it, you know what I mean and if you weren’t, well, I guess is a hard luck eh!

The live entertainment served only to increase the considerable momentum which had been built up by the DJs over the course of the morning and when JW and Blaze, the Palance Factory themselves took to the stage, a friend commented that he was sure the platform would soon be nothing but a pile of matchsticks. “Nah man,” I told him, “a few years ago there was a fete at the DC Convention Center for DC’s Carnival where the floor was behaving similarly and we later learned that it had been engineered to do just that so I am not worrying at all. Floors can be bendy and not break.” “True that,” he responded “but I am sure that SSU ent pay nobody no engineer money to make this floor so. If there is to be a crick-crack, I doh want to be de monkey breaking mih back so I will stand at the edge.” Hmmm. Point. Good point!

As a matter of fact, damn good pointy-point-point! Better to be safe than sorry so in the palancepocalypse that ensued, we participated from the relative safety of the palanceparticipants in de road and kept an eye out for palanceplatformmashupdrama on de side which thankfully never palancematerialized. (Ok, I admit that was really too many palance attachments. I done now.)

The rest of the fete flew by as is usually the case when one is having fun and before we knew it, the sun was blazing hot and high in the sky and the masses were filing out and not heading to their cars, but rather to Mohammed’s CafĂ© about a block south of the fete. Here is where the after party had kicked off and despite the fact that some of these people had been partying since 4:00 a.m. that morning and it was now around noon, they were still active and full of energy. I on the other hand usually knew when to say when and now was that time so I made my way home to rest and gather my strength for J’Ouvert.

This year’s SSU exceeded my expectations and despite reservations based on the 2009 iteration, I was extremely happy that I attended in 2010 and I am definitely looking forward to 2011.
Enjoy the pics peeps, J’Ouvert with Cocoa Devils is next.

Machel Montano Speaks !

Check out the first in a four part interview with Machel Montano conducted by Walshy Fire from Black Chiney Sound and 103.5 the Beat in Miami:

You can hear the entire interview on Sunday, March 21st from 6-8pm E by tuning in to the website

Look out for the Walshy Fire's soca cd Socal 4 : The Socavivor hosted by Mr. Montano himself to drop next week and you can follow Walshy Fire on, and for more info.
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