Of course most of the Mardi Gras parties happened last weekend, or even earlier, but today it’s official. Even if you’re not a Lenten observer, why pass up a chance to eat pancakes?
But of course there’s always a political component… even leading aside the President-Asterisk’s speech tonight. Per the Washington Post:
PORT-OF-SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — Every year, an onslaught of high-octane soca music is released ahead of Trinidad’s pre-Lent Carnival. The songs are new, but the themes are well-worn: Rum. Partying. And the allure of a woman’s gyrating body, preferably backed into a man’s grasp.
So it’s a little surprising that one of this year’s most popular Carnival tunes is a jaunty ballad performed by the 76-year-old music legend Calypso Rose and titled matter-of-factly “Leave Me Alone.” The song features a woman trying to party in the streets without interference from men, exhorting them to “leave me, let me free up.” And it’s being hailed as a feminist anthem.
“It’s like a rallying cry for women who just want to be able to have the option of enjoying their Carnival — Carnival being that space of freedom,” said Attillah Springer, 40, a Trinidadian writer and activist. “And then you have to deal with people who are trying to control how much freedom you feel.”…
The discussion about women’s roles in Carnival is part of a wider soul-searching about the state of the celebration and how it has changed from the traditions of decades ago, when Carnival costumes depicted figures from history or folklore and often encapsulated stinging political or social statements.
But Gabrielle Hosein, head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies at the University of the West Indies in Trinidad, said the current bikini-and-beads iteration of Carnival doesn’t necessarily exclude political or social activism.
“It’s the largest movement of women in Trinidad and Tobago seeking autonomy and self-determination around their sexuality and their bodies, in opposition to a particular kind of respectability politics . . . purely for the joy and pleasure they experience,” Hossein said. “One can see those goals as highly political in our world today.”.
Ayoung-Chee said she wants to help people see how the free-for-all Carnival vibes can align with the tradition of activism and rebellion.
“Coming out in the streets in the tens of thousands, owning your space, owning your freedom,” Ayoung-Chee said. “What is that besides activism?”