So, some folks had their unmentionables in knots last week, fretting about the presence of children at the Calypso Quarter-finals. Of course, there was the usual debate about irresponsible parents and forced-ripe kids, but, on this count, I disagree.
Let me say, I am all for boundaries. I know what it’s like to be at some purportedly adult-only event only to have snotty-nose kids ruin the vibes. I also know what it’s like to haul my butt somewhere grown and sexy only to find all kinds of pimpled-faced teenagers. And, to boot, those young guys have the temerity to “seeps” you up and then ask for a dance.
But Carnival? Show me where the dividing lines are. Okay. I’ll give you the pre-Carnival fetes and the street jams. But, as for the regular shows, man, if a kid can hang, then I think it’s fair game.
Granted, the tents go late into the night, and, granted, subtlety has taken a nose dive. There is no more suggestion, double entendre, and creativity is being challenged. It goes without saying that things are out in the open.
But, the thing is, they are as out in the open in the tent the same way they are out in the open on radio, to which children listen. And they are certainly out in the open come show time, to which kids are invited. And even if they are not invited, they are certainly out in numbers, particularly at the calypso show and Bacchanal Saturday.
We put aside lots of things at Carnival and, while I am certain that somebody is going to say we put aside our senses, these lines of demarcation become blurred. After all, what are we going to do? Wait until little Johnny is 16 and firmly entrenched in R&B, dancehall and rap to beg him to come to the tent in which he has no interest? Or are we going to wait until he’s more interested in Halloween than in rocking a bent wire creation? And then are we going to turn around and bawl ’bout how culture’s baton dropped ’cause the youth won’t pick it up?
Don’t get me wrong, some of those kids who were in the tent might have been brought there by parents who didn’t want to miss the action. But some folks might have done it consciously.
Me? I’ve told ya’ll already that I was raised in calypso tents (my dad was a Pepperpot forerunner;) and in mas’ camps; and at whichever hotel the Carnival Queen delegates and the winner were “stushing” out at after the show.
And I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I love Carnival so. Mind you, I could get on my soap box about the slip from pride of place. But that doesn’t stop me from flipping up and down the dial to get my fix on and from debating the calypso releases.
And don’t talk about how I get excited over the rise of the party monarch contenders.
Panorama, meanwhile, just does something to me that I can’t explain. I can’t explain the goose-bumps, the feeling like I want to weep for joy when I see how the rhythm riding the players and how the players riding the pans. And I can’t keep that for myself. My big boy, who loves a session, has to get his indoctrination early.
And then there’s Carnival Monday and Tuesday, when revellers are coming down the road in all their colour and splendour with the music pulsating …
Sure, there are the rotten elements. But I’m not throwing out the baby with the bath water and echoing that no-kids-allowed line.
I don’t suppose a contender like Kimmie, who, up to Sunday night, was straddling the Queen of Carnival and Calypso Monarch divide got her commitment by osmosis. No, Ma’am. That must have come from her Calypso King Dad.
And did anyone hear Serpent playing Prince Short Shirt’s song on Saturday? Tell me his iconic granddad, Sir McLean Emmanuel, didn’t have a hand in that.
It’s nature and the nurture, man.
So, lighten up, on our seven days of glory, as Edimelo sang a few years ago. Carnival is a family affair. And, if anything, we have to look at the aspects that upset our teachable moments.
… I mean, how do you exclude, from the lime, an eight year old who routinely belts out the hook to Fiah’s Thin Skin? Tarl! He has to see that in living colour.
The official start of Carnival is this weekend, so take care, walk good, and have a blast. See ya’ll at Children’s Carnival and some other nights after that.