As one who has called for Carnival to clean up its act and return to its origins, I had the good fortune this year to compare the modern and ancient face of mas’.
One was hideous and ugly beyond recognition, while the other was a most beautiful sight to behold. In the first portrayal, there were some shapely women in skimpy costumes dancing in a rage of sexual frenzy when the parade stopped at the corner of Popeshead and St John’s streets, to allow the bottle-neck of bands to clear. Music was playing and the female dancers appeared as if they were in a competition to decide which one of them was the most vulgar and suggestive performer in the band.
What I am about to describe is a true story. It is not a hearsay version but an eyewitness account. While I looked on at what was taking place before me, I formed the opinion that the moving display resembled the sexual orgy of debauched vagabonds and not Carnival revellers. But little did I know that there was worse to come. For there and then I saw a male member of the mas’ troupe chase and grab one of the half naked women, and forced her to lie down on her back in the street and raped his helpless victim. It happened a matter of a few yards from where I was standing, and before thousands of other amazed spectators.
Just before the assault was committed, the woman had shamelessly had one foot cocked on the motionless truck and allowed the man to do only what I had seen done by two copulating dogs on the public highway. Some onlookers may argue that she had invited the disgusting act upon herself. I beg to differ. She had already broken loose from the man and was yards away when she was captured and violated.
At length a friend went and rescued the helpless victim, who seemed embarrassed and ashamed, while the man, whose hair was dyed red, puffed up his chest like a proud rooster who had just threaded a reluctant yard fowl. He then held his hands in the air and danced away to the tune of a forbidden Road March song.
Although I am not a moralist I slowly turned away my head in disgust. I tried to walk away and found that I couldn’t move as another scene had arrested my attention and held me spellbound; it had to be a miracle that was taking place for I saw at that moment the ugly mas’ turn into one of the most beautiful works of art. I was sure it was a dream, the vision was so lovely that I believe I had been transported back to the golden age of Carnival when the festival was a lovely musical street theatre. It didn’t take long to discover that the magnificent gods, goddesses and angels that had suddenly appeared before me was a dramatic creation of artistry and splendour by Calvin Southwell and his Beautiful People mas’ troupe. This presentation was out of this world.
To me ‘Band of the Year’ is an all hat award. The value has been diluted and overrun by too many categories. I would like to create a new top prize in its place to be called the critics’ award. This would go to the best of the best bands of the year. The winner of this year’s critics’ award goes to the Beautiful People’s depiction of how an ugly mas’ can be turned into a thing of beauty. This presentation convinced me that for Carnival to survive it has to go back to its roots.