Since the dawn of ‘civilization’ with all its annoying rules, humans have been designating certain times of year to transgress social norms, wear masks and costumes, cross-dress, parade through the streets, dance to oblivion and drink in excess. There’s so much history and local differentiation to dig into, too much for us to discuss here (For more, here’s a light start, and a heavy read). The carnival celebration we are most interested in right now is the Labor Day West Indian American Day Parade, which is set to go down in Brooklyn this coming weekend!
Caribbeans/West Indians are VERY serious about their carnival traditions, which came to them via Christianity’s pre-Lenten gorging, which came to European Christians from the ancient Roman celebrations of Saturnalia and Bacchanalia (Trinidadians still call their Carnival “Bacchanal”) which the Romans in turn appropriated from the ancient Greek celebration of Dionysus…and so on. In the Caribbean, as elsewhere in the Americas, these European traditions mixed with African traditions of drumming and masquerading and resulted in original art forms like steel-band, calypso and soca.
The festivities that have become the West Indian American Day Carnival were started by Trinidadians in Harlem in the 1920s, but the parade has taken place in Brooklyn since the early 1960s, mixing cultures and traditions to present a Pan-Caribbean celebration. For all New Yorkers, this is not an event to miss! There are many shows, parades and events; some are ticketed, some free. For more information: http://wiadcacarnival.org/events/.
One special part of Carnival is J’ouvert, when, on pre-dawn Monday morning (around 3 AM) the steel-bands parade from Grand Army Plaza through Flatbush to Linden Blvd. The actual Parade gets underway around 11 AM. Here’s more info on J’ouvert 2013. Below are the ‘Festival Highlights’ from WIADACA.
At Brooklyn Museum grounds
Tickets available online at www.wiadcacarnival.org; WIADCA office 718-467-1797 or at Museum gate.
Thursday, August 29th
8:00pm – 1:00am – Caribbean Woodstock
This WORLD MUSIC FESTIVAL boasts Caribbean entertainers in a wonderful mix of costume, competition, Steelpan, and musicians performing ZOUK, LATIN, HIP HOP, KOMPA, SOCA and REGGAE! Performers include Tallpree, Jeannie Sol, Adrian Dutchin, Statement, Trinity, Problem Child, Ricky T and many more!
Friday, August 30th
10:00am-2:00pm – Stay in School Youth Fest -FREE!
WIADCA presents this performance opportunity to encourage youth to pursue education and develop their talents.
8:00pm- 3:00am – Brass Fest
Featuring multi-award-winning Soca artist, Machel Montano HD along with Farmer Nappy and Patrice Roberts. Also performing is Lyrikal, Brooklyn’s Willie Villegas Salsa Band, St. Lucia’s Teddyson John, & TJ Project, Pumpa, Boodoo Singh Tassa Drummers. Hosted by MC Wassy, Giselle “D” Wassi One, all guaranteed to electrify the audience with sizzling high energy performances.
Saturday, Aug 31st
8:00am- 3:00pm – Junior Carnival Parade & Competition
Thousands of children and families enjoy music and “jump-up” while competing in their own costume parade.Route begins at corner of Kingston Avenue & St. John’s Place continues to Franklin Avenue & President Street ending at the Brooklyn Museum grounds. $2 admission at Museum gate.
8:00pm- 3:00am –Panorama Steelband Competition
A night of PAN, PAN, PANORAMA! This year for pan lovers, WIADCA presents a special appearance by New York University’s NYU Steel Orchestra and competing will be Pan Sonatas, CASYM, Crossfire, Pantonics, Adlib, Metro, Pan Fantasy, D’ Radoes, Despers and Eastside Symphony Orchestra. Get ready to lock in your vote!
Sunday, September 1st
7:00pm- 1:00am – Dimanche Gras
An encore presentation featuring Panorama and King & Queen costume winners, and live performances by King David Rudder singing Hammer, High Mas’ & Trini to de Bone, the legendary Calypso Rose performingTempo & Fire Fire, Lil’ Devyn, Swallow singing Fire in de Backseat, Lima Calbio, and more! Highlights include three of the world’s top Steelpan virtuosos appearing for the first time in the US in an on-stage showdown – Robert Greenidge, Andy Narrell and Liam Teague will duel for the “BEST OF THE EAST” title.
Monday, September 2nd
Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, NY
11:00am-6:00pm – West Indian Carnival Day Parade 2013 – Caribbean Pride & Culture
This multi-cultural, Caribbean Carnival extravaganza led by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and other Grand Marshals, is the ultimate expression of Caribbean Pride and Culture.. Known as NYC’s “Greatest Show on Earth”, this colorful Parade of costumed revelers and millions of spectators enjoy music, camaraderie, fun, food and family as they “JUMP-UP” to the scintillating sounds of Soca, Reggae, Salsa, Zouk, Kompa and Calypso!