With Carnival quickly approaching (23 days to be exact) all that’s on people’s minds is fete.
“Which fete you going to this weekend? Which band you playing in this year? Have you bought your costume yet? Which fetes you going to the Wed, Thurs, Fri, Sat, and Sun before Carnival?”
So you can imagine their surprise when I tell them “I won’t be in Trinidad for Carnival this year..I’m going to travel instead.”
“Whaaaa? Yuh mad or wha? How could you leave now? This is the best time to be in Trinidad!..This is what this country is about!”
“Yeah, yeah..I know..” I say. “Carnival just isn’t my thing..I would rather travel if I have the chance to..Maybe next year.”
Anyway..now that I’ve dropped that bomb, I’ll continue..
This is my first time being in Trinidad during this ‘pre-carnival’ period. Previously, whenever I came to visit my family it was during Easter, Summer, or Christmas Holidays. So..I guess you wouldn’t be too surprised to know that it’s only recently that I learnt what a “Cooler Fete” is. When I think about it, the concept is..rather..genius. You pay between $25-$35 to go to a rather large, open-air venue with a DJ and live performances by popular soca artists (Machel, Kes, etc etc). And that’s not even the best part – you walk with your own cooler full of whatever it is you want to drink..brilliant! So all in all, it works out to be a pretty good deal. (I imagine you can pack snacks too, but if you want something more substantial to eat, they have food vendors throughout the party).
Cooler fetes are a big deal in Trinidad. So much so that they even right features like the below in local publications. The subheadline reads, “Coolers are like lovers, each has their own special qualities and not every one is for you, but somewhere out there is your perfect match. How to find the one that will really fulfill your specific needs? Consider this a cheat sheet.”
If I had to choose..it would be The Portable.
So ‘Cooler Fetes’ are a great way to have a good time with your friends..without totally breaking the bank (I guess that also depends on how much you buy to put in the cooler and whether you only go for premium alcohol!). And since most of the people who attend these fetes are between the ages of 20-30,..and these fetes/parties/mini concerts take place every weekend before Carnival..it really goes over well. Oh, and on top of that, glass isn’t allowed inside of the venue – so fights with broken bottles are never a concern.
I went to my first Cooler Fete a few weeks ago..and I really understood why this system works so well. Not only from a financial standpoint but also from a logistical standpoint. I mean, having to fight up to get your drink in a crowd 1,000-2,000 people deep would be a nightmare..not only for patrons, but also for organizers. (I used to work in events back in Miami, so I always think about these things whenever I attend something new).
This is a flyer from a cooler fete that took place in Brooklyn, NY..I really really like this concept and think that event organizers all over the world could learn something from Trinis and how they fete. Has anyone heard of Cooler Fetes taking place outside of Trinidad/Caribbean communities elsewhere? That would be interesting to know..
Anyway, I took a couple of ‘snapshots’ of my first cooler fete experience.
I managed to capture a couple of videos of some of the performances..my favorite being when 2 white boys from Maryland got on stage and started to wine (third video..absolute hilarity! haha) If you listen closely to the first video of Kes performing, you can hear my dad say,, “ayyayyaaaa tune boy!” when Kes starts singing ‘Wotless.’ Classic. Good times.
And that about wraps up this week’s Snapshot Saturdays!
Promise to get back to some more ummm…’thought provoking’ pieces next week. 😉