There is only one word that really sums up Carnival on Trinidad. “It’s wotless,” says Kees Dieffenthaller, lead singer of the soca band KES. “That’s Trini slang for you simply have to experience it for yourself, just have a hell of time without caring what anyone says or thinks of you.”
When one of your favourite bands invites you to come party with them on their island-home, you don’t say no. You pack your bags. That’s how we ended up in Trinidad for Carnival this year.
We’re on the island to get down for the next 48 hours. Carnival celebrations kick off around 3 a.m. on Monday morning, as thousands of locals and international After Hours Athletes party their way through Port of Spain (the capital of Trinidad and Tobago).
Leading the way are the MAS bands. These are costumed masqueraders on music trucks that throw sound like a force of nature, vibrating every cell in your body. There’s nothing for us to do but dance. We fuel up on puncheon (a wicked rum punch) and find our way to the KES performance.
KES plays soca, or island pop, a mix of reggae, pop, and rock that is getting major props worldwide. KES throws the crowd into overdrive, and the spirit of carnival takes over. We’re surrounded by scantily clad teammates who are celebrating the end of carnival. For months the island has been partying, and these final 48 hours are epic.
Pro tip: while the style here is super laid back, be sure you’re wearing your favourite kicks. You’ll be dancing for hours, and no one wants to sub out over tired toes.
Photos courtesy of Daryll Willoughby and Lyden Thomas.