Carnival’s cultural regression

While everyone and their granny was at Pan on Sunday, I was at home,,watching this documentary on “The Other Side of Carnival.” In the first few minutes of the documentary, a woman takes to the streets – asking people about the historical roots of Carnival. Their answers are nothing short of appalling.

“I don’t know how it came about and what it is. To me it’s just people in the road, jumping up, wining, gyrating themselves listening to soca music.”

“I don’t know, I wasn’t there. The message today is that the women are becoming more nudist and stuff. I can’t tell you the message long ago.”

The documentary then goes on to discuss some of the side-effects of carnival that many people overlook – unplanned pregnancies, STD’s, Carnival’s effect on workforce productivity..and how Carnival as we know it today has completely forsaken most of its cultural/historical favor of commercialization.

“Costumes (for women) keep getting smaller, while prices keep getting higher. In the future, I see women playing Carnival topless.” – one UWI Lecturer remarks.

“The Other Side of Carnival” is a fantastic documentary well worth the watch.


“The Other Side of Carnival is a 45-minute documentary (by Charyesse Harper) that explores Carnival’s social and economic impact on Trinidad & Tobago.

With more than 60 interviews from professors, medical staff, police officers, government officials, students, tourists, every day locals and more, The Other Side of Carnival is able to highlight that while Carnival is an exciting occasion, it is a festival that creates turmoil, which is not widely visible…or is it just simply ignored?

Known as “The Greatest Show on Earth” by the citizens, this documentary captures the roots of Carnival and how far some go to keep the original idea alive, and how others attempt to integrate change.

Consummating over two years of research and interviews and with the coordination of a multi-national crew (Trinidad & Tobago, US and UK), The Other Side of Carnival does not pass judgment on Carnival in Trinidad & Tobago, but aims to bring an awareness of the type of influence that Carnival has on the population.”

Credit to dbandwagonist for posting this documentary first. 🙂


Filed under Life in Trinidad

6 responses to “Carnival’s cultural regression

  1. like so many other wonderful traditions, carnival looses the original essence of it… sad really

  2. i went BY pan (or what they callin pan anyway) on sunday to do a short piece on what people really know about panorama. we had audio problems. didn’t get to do it. so we left. when yuh actually know where carnival and steel pan come from and what they about, to see the whole thing become a big lime and to see people so passionate about the big lime is a sad thing to me. more sad than that is when people act as if takin the time to understand why we celebrating like this going to make it less fun or something. to me, understanding that pan was a solution for musical expression when beating drums and playing tambu bamboo was outlawed makes pan even sweeter.

  3. oh… ah now remember to say dis:

    i think having a section for people who not interested or who fed up hear pan IN A PAN FESTIVAL/COMPETITION is complete nonsense.

  4. QD yuh make a good point there. Events are meant for the people who are interested in those sorts of things. Unfortunately, the organisers need money, so they allow it. Sad on both ends.

    • karel, i agree that pan trinbago need the paper. but i think they are going about it the wrong way. if we begin treating the steel pan like a real instrument, it will help. that way, panorama will not be the “pan season event” and we will have MORE events that pan lovers could go to more frequently. it will open up more opportunities for selling recordings, merchandising, tv broadcast rights… etc etc. the greens is an easy way out kind of approach. no thought. same thing goin on wid carnival.

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