They Call It "Tabanca"

"Tabanca" our friend, and Carnival costume creator, Ian, finally named what I was feeling, after a chain of text responding with a bandaged thumb. (Ian literally ground off the tip of his thumb Thursday last, while trying to wedge a rock under the rear tire of his car so he could drive up a steep hill.)

Here's Ian hot-gluing Curtis's "Horns"pre thumb smash.

Here's Ian hot-gluing Curtis's "Horns"pre thumb smash.

"That's what we call what you're feeling my dear: Tabanaca. It's Carnival Blues." 

I do have Tabanca!...Or feel Tabanca? Or am Tabanca-ish

How could I not have Carnival Blues?  Dang it, after weeks of planning, collecting, gluing, beading and feathering. . . 

Ian, Charisse & Curtis during a "Bead & Feather" session.

Ian, Charisse & Curtis during a "Bead & Feather" session.

Followed by weeks of playing and limin' and chippin' and whinin' bhoy--not that I am much of a whiner (the Trini kind anyway)--Post-Carnival, rather than coming as a welcome relief after way too much revelry, hit me with, as my mother likes to say, "A dull thud!" Tabanca.

I tried getting busy. Still Tabanca.

I tried ignore in it. More Tabanca.

I'm tired of wallowing it in. So now I've decided to go with it.

In a veiled effort to vanquish TabancaI decided to relive Trinidad Carnival 2016 by sharing memories here. Enjoy!

Jouvert 2015, we played with a band called "Cocoa Devils" and by the end of the night were smeared with cocoa "mud"

Jouvert 2015, we played with a band called "Cocoa Devils" and by the end of the night were smeared with cocoa "mud"

Carnival Weekend starts Sunday night, well really Monday morning about 3:00 am with Jouvert. Revelers dance along beside music trucks--Steel Pan and/or DJ's spinning Carnival Music.

Splashing, smearing, dunking in paint, mud (cocoa powder), and clay until after daybreak.

The origin of Jouvert and this "camoflaging" isn't "pleasant" as it came about as a response to Officials, mostly British, trying to ban Carnival celebrations. (The Spanish, absentee landlords, really, didn't seem to know about Carnival; the French by most accounts, joined in.) 

In case you wonder where I'm getting my info, I've been reading up on it in John Cowley's Carnival Canboulay and Calypso.

Carnival was introduced to Trinidad by French settlers in 1783, a time of slavery. Banned from the masquerade balls of the French, the slaves would stage their own mini-carnivals in their backyards — using their own rituals and folklore, but also imitating and sometimes mocking their masters’ behavior at the masquerade balls.

As with Carnival, despite it's beginnings Jouvert is now pure fun for everyone. Here are a few more pics beginning with us at 3:00 am sparkling clean and ready to play! This year we played Jouvert with "Caribe" and finished smeared with paint (or, as we say, with "improved work-out shirts)

Like Jouvert, Trinidad Carnival's has ebbed and flowed. Carnival came to Trinidad in the 1780s along with French planters and their slaves from other Caribbean Islands. In the beginning the celebration went from Christmas right up to Ash Wednesday services. 

In wasn't until after 1797, when the British "Captured" Trinidad that serious issues and ordinances against Carnival began cropping up. 


 Wealthy white French residents would hired steel pan bands to play for their pre-Lent, "Fat Tuesday" parties. The bands, accompanied by friends and family, made the best of the work. They'd dance and party as they pushed the heavy steel pan drums from house to house. Eventually the revelers inside joined the party outside. But before the revelry can begin, there are costumes to be made:

Carnival Monday everyone dresses in part of their costumes and parade down the street.

Carnival Monday costumes: halos, purple wig and comfy shoes.

Carnival Monday costumes: halos, purple wig and comfy shoes.

Carnival Tuesday is the culmination of "Bacchanal Week" with steel pan band competitions, King and Queen engulfed by costumes as big as floats--some fully 30 ft high x 30 ft wide--Kiddie Carnival, Band Camp "practice" sessions and parties "Fetes" to support the bands everywhere. Here's a fantastic link to more about Trinidad's Carnival.


And here are some of my photos (with apologies as I only had my baby phone to click with. We played with a small band sponsored by Vene Mange restaurant, the owner, Roses is pictured with her parasol below:

And alas, instead of quenching my Tabanca, it's made me long for year!

Trini Translations:

  • "Playing": is getting costumed up, and parading through the streets
  • "Limin'": Getting together with friends
  • "Chippin": bouncy walking to the music
  • "Whinin'": Trinidad-style dancing (precursor to Miley's "Twerking")
  • "Bhoy": Boy in Trini-ese

For more images of Trinidad Carnival 2016 click over to view these by Rapso Imaging

Tabanca Playlist:

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