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As we prepare for another carnival season we are once again thrust into the throes of trying to "find somebody who knows somebody, that knows somebody" in order to make sure we are "safe" for tickets to certain fetes.  Many of us have started the process of working out, training, losing weight and getting ready for the road. While others are doing what they usually do by saying, "I'm going to start right after Thanksgiving" and then they say, "I'm going to start right after Christmas" and then they say, "On January 1st, I'm definitely going to start" and what happens is a mad dash to lose some weight before going to Carnival.

And then there are some people who still have not chosen a band to play in as yet and are trying to make a decision.  Those who are carnival virgins who are taking a stab at carnival without the help of a Carnival Veteran or reading the helpful "Ultimate Road Ready Guide" are probably still trying to register to get in a band and get a costume. They are not sure if they need to play with a massive band like Island People or some smaller quaint bands like Wayward Mas, Flirt or Dream Team Carnival.   Some bigger bands like Yuma and Fantasy are still open for registration but the carnival virgin often times does not know where to start.

Most women, who do not know of which band to play with literally make their selection by what they read online, youtube videos and what the costume looks like (from what I've been told). Men, seem to look at pictures and videos and then make a decision based off of perceived vibes from the years before.  And then there are those, which I have seen from reading on blogs on the internet, that just decide to go to carnival with their friends and hop on line and register for a band based upon price.

Recently, I received an email message through the TriniJungleJuice Facebook page and the email read:

"The Carnival Doctor, I've read some of your tips and things on the TJJ site and facebook page and wanted to know if you can give my friends and I some assistance. It's our first time going to TNT and we want to know what band we should play in?"


Now, TJJers I know all the right things to say and all the wrong things to say -- well, at least I think I do.  I also know that this will be the best time of these people's lives, no matter who they play with because they don't have a previous experience to measure it against. I also could tell you where they are from and their background and it would further cause you to approve my advice, but I will not.  I will just share with you, what I told them in hopes that this will help someone else.

Here's what I told them:

"Congratulations on making the decision to attend Carnival in Trinidad. There are several services that you may use in order to gain assistance with tickets to the parties (fetes), band registration and lodging. If you haven't gotten my book "The Ultimate Road Ready Guide" which is on Amazon.com I thoroughly recommend it as it has some great advice for people in your exact situation.  Understanding how to navigate the carnival experience is fun and exciting but the dream can soon turn into a nightmare without the correct information and advice.  In terms of playing in a band, I would recommend that you and your friends visit the one site that I recommend in the book -- MyCarnivalBands.  That site will allow you and your friends to pick some costumes that you like and also register to all play in the same band. More of the high-end and high-profile bands where some of the celebrities frequent are sold out at this time or require a higher level of personal connection than you have currently but this can be established as you frequent other international carnivals.

"Just like with any other experience, as you increase things in scale you also increase the propensity for issues. Basic issues like getting lost, getting hurt, falling down, miscommunication per misreading cultural imperatives and other things.  When things are a bit smaller, the propensity towards such issues decreases. I'm a stickler for people trying some smaller carnivals first before going to Trinidad Carnival in order to 'get some experience' but that's not necessary, just the advice that I provide.  However, you can have a great time. As far as my advice on bands the best case scenario at this particular point is to go the MyCarnivalBands and go to the bottom of the page and click the "contact us" button and fill out that form or send an email to info@mycarnivalbands.com and let them know how many you have in your group so that they can satiate your needs. I'm a carnival veteran and an expert in some areas, but band selection is not one of them. I follow the advice of some veterans and just do what I'm told. And what I can tell you is that there are people who help people get registered in bands and do this for a living and they are the experts in this space and I defer to them.  That's my 'prescription' for you.  Have a wonderful time at carnival and thank you so much for your question."

The Carnival Doctor

The Explanation

If any of you have been to Carnival in TNT, you know that the "road route" and the "Jouvert routes" are different as are the cages on the side of the trucks. I remember my virgin year when my friend, Winston, kept telling, "Mind de tires!" and "Be careful, move the the back of the truck." There were times when we were on the sidewalk, on the road and when we just leaned on the paling and watched everybody walk by until we jumped back in and got behind a truck. I remember a woman falling into a hole during the morning during Jouvert and looking at her leg that was surely going to require stitches. There wasn't much that she could do. She just got up, poured some water on it and kept chipping as the blood ran down her leg into her socks and shoes.

Just take a brief read from our friends at Trinidad Carnival Diary HERE at how dangerous Jouvert can be if you don't know when to walk and when to lean on the paling.

Things that you are protected from when you play mass on Monday and Tuesday - you are wide open to during Jouvert.

So with that said, TJJers, I know some of things that I could say, but I have to be super careful telling somebody to "play with this band" or to "play with that band." I just have to let them know what their options are.

As with all things, there are things that you need to know. Hell, skydiving is fun and great time if you go up with an experienced pilot and a great guide.  If you jump out of a plane by yourself, with a trash bag that you think is going to open up like a parachute.... well.... you might make it. But you might not.

Question For You

If it is your virgin year, your first time to TNT Carnival or if you are still on the fence about going, let us know what your biggest question or concern is.  I'm sure someone on the TriniJungleJuice staff can answer your question(s).


Blessings From Here To There,

Rhadi Ferguson, PhD
"The Carnival Doctor"

P.S. For the best information in the world concerning carnivals please visit www.TriniJungleJuice.com  For the most comprehensive site available for fete tickets and masquerader costumes, please visit www.MyCarnivalBands.com

P.P.S. For more information on how to properly prepare for carnival like a true veteran, please visit www.CarnivalPrep.com