Are you thinking of attending carnival with a partner?
Valentine’s Day is here and the first major carnival of the year, Trinidad Carnival 2020 is around the corner. If you are thinking of taking a carnival baecation, this blog is for you. Baecations are a popular type of vacation that involves travelling with your spouse or partner. What happens when baecation meets carnival? What are the rules for attending carnival with your partner? How do you avoid going to carnival in love and returning in malice?
With Trinidad Carnival 2020 being my first time playin’ mas, obviously I have never tried attending carnival with a partner. Therefore, I deferred to those with experience on the topics and asked a few carnival veterans to share their experiences and advice for attending carnival with a special someone.
Should you even consider attending carnival with a partner?
Before even delving into any advice, first I want you to think about your decision to play mas with your beau. Are you guys ready for this step? It is important that you remember that (Caribbean) carnival typically involves a lot of dancing and wining. You will likely be going to fetes and if you are with a band, you will have one or two days on the road, and possibly j’ouvert and post-road festivities. So it is important to ask yourself and your partner, what are my boundaries and what are yours? Decide on this together and ensure that your expectations of each other are clear and you are on the same page.
Any baecation can make or break a relationship. In some ways, a carnival baecation is like a baecation on steroids. It can be a huge test of trust while also helping you learn more about your partner. Some people should never travel together, and that is fine. Likewise, some couples should never play mas’ together. I promise this article is not intended to convince you not to play mas’ with your bae, but it’s important that you get both sides. It’s also important you understand the event you are attending.
- “It’s important to go with people who understand (carnival). I took my man, and his sister went for the first time last year. She was petrified. Killed the vibe lmao. Carnival is about sharing pure vibes and a lot of that translates through dance. It’s the western culture that puts a hyper-sexualized spin on things that tells us it’s inappropriate but it’s all in fun.” – Ann
Some people like the freedom of doing carnival without their partner and not having to worry about upsetting their partner on the road. Some advise against ever attending carnival with a partner. When I asked for advice for playing mas’ with a partner, the response included:
- “My man don’t like soca! Praise God” – Iesha
- “Hell to d nope.” – Kimberley
- “Leave them at the hotel.” – Steven
- “Dont play in d same band as yuh man! If you playing mas and he not, then let him stay home.” – David
- “Play in different bands” – Stephen
- “My advice is don’t!!!! Na but on the real it depends on the person. Most often it’s best you go your way and he goes his. You play in different sections and link up at the rest stop and las lap on Tuesday.” – Sykes
- “Depends, what’s the goal? To stay together or respectfully give your 2 weeks notice? 👀🤷🏾♀️” – Anonymous
Trust me when I say that carnival relationship horror stories exists:
- “Mine was cool till he wasn’t. Everything was cool until last lap. He showed his true colors at the last fete. If you even think your S.O. is jealous or controlling, don’t. (He) acted an entire ass and left the fete. Mind you, I didn’t even dance with anyone!! Guys were “looking at me” 🙄 so he asked if I wanted to dance with them and I said “I’m good” (for obvious reasons) and somehow THAT turned into an issue. It was the strangest thing ever. Needless to say, I don’t have that problem anymore.” – Nichole
- “We met at Miami Carnival 2017, ended after Trinidad Carnival 2018. It united and divided us. Now I’m the only Carnivalist in any relationship!” – Mikey
Not to worry though, there are also success stories:
- “We was in jouvert and I thought he was dancing with somebody so I thought it was a free for all. I unleash my true fling way waistline and some random guy get a wine. Hubby was vexxxxx but the attitude fix when I explained. Other than that we have a good time. He’s with all my shenanigans: splitting, climbing on the people stage. He lets me be free. No other bad experiences.” – Kay
- “I took my husband with me last year and the year before that!! I have been doing carnival for 8 years now. He had fun and this was his first time even playing mas!!! I even had fun watching him get a whine stolen on him!! We have a strong relationship, so it was no biggie!! But it definitely created a memory for us!!” – Kristina
- “He is my security guard lol” – Natalie
- “I played mas in Trinidad, Nottinghill and Grenada Carnival with my husband. I only have intentionally dance with my husband but I have had men trying to whine on me. They have been very respectful, when they realise that I am with a man.” – Anonymous
Ok Juleen, I get it. But where’s the advice you promised?
Alright, alright. I am a woman of my word so as I said, I asked some carnival veterans for their advice on attending carnival with a partner and here’s what they had to say:
- “Women will dance with your man. It’s all fun and games. If the relationship not secure, the time may be miserable. When I had a man many moons ago, I let him know. Nitia gets tired. You can dance with anyone but not go home with anyone. Same for me when he was tired lol.” – Nitia
- “Men and women will whine on you. I love attending carnival with my man and we have a blast. Clothing can vary and eyes may wonder. Set boundaries, have a mutual understanding of what you both expect.” – Jamila
- “Know the individual you with, what bothers them and vice versa, but at carnival is only fair the man get to take a lil free wine here and there.” – Natalie
- “Have the talk before you leave town. We tend to give each other space to free up and then we meet up and review highlights lol.” – Charlie
- “I would say review guidelines before heading to the airport because I know once I meet another feter in the airport terminal its slackness until Ash Wednesday” – Charlie
- “Set up guidelines after the first bite of doubles at the airport.” – Greg
If we travelling together, we have to do everything together, right?
Wrong! Another option is to apply what I like to call the “we travelled together but we still individuals” method. (Ok, maybe I don’t actually call it that.) I like this method because it’s how I generally approach travelling with another person or in a group. It basically means, you can travel together but you don’t have to do everything together.
- We arrive together then go our separate ways. Meet up. Wine. Go our separate ways again. Repeat multiple times throughout the day then find each other once things (are) winding down and spend rest of the night together before heading home” – Otu
- “I opted to be in a younger band, and she chose to be in Tribe so we both were in separate bands. Simple rule of thumb, have fun, no exchanging of social media handles or any personal information. Also, please avoid those roaming cameras, don’t look too happy. At the ending of the Tuesday mas, we walked until we met each other at some intersection on the Avenue.” – Mikey
- “I play with Bae almost every year! We end up barely being together though LOL. We have a blast! But I gotta say we are super chill in the way that I don’t get vexed if he tiefs a whine with another girl and vice versa! That’s what carnival is about. I personally love playing mas with bae. We have our own fun and at the end of the road we go home safe!” – Ruby
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But Juleen, what if I’m the jealous type?
Well, I’m not here to judge you (or am I?) I’m not going to lie to you, if you know you are a jealous/insecure person and still insist on attending carnival with your partner, well, yuh betta than me stillz…
- “I would say don’t try to play mas or go to Soca fetes if you are a jealous or insecure person, or your partner is. It’ll end badly unless both parties have a relaxed, respectful and mutual view. Setting boundaries and discussing upfront will save you a lot of upset in the middle of the lime.” – Sarah
I cannot reiterate enough the importance of discussing your boundaries with your partner. But not to worry, it is totally possible to only dance with your partner and group at fetes and on the road.
- “Have yet to do Trinidad carnival with my boyfriend, but when we did St. Lucia carnival last year, we stayed with each other the entire time. I only danced with him and my homegirls and had a blast. I didn’t feel the need to dance with anyone else because he kept up with me the entire time and I love to dance. The trip definitely brought us so much closer! I definitely recommend traveling with your bae for those in a relationship. He could dance with my friends but not with other girls and I did not dance with other men, but we are both good dancers so like I said we both didn’t feel the need to dance with other ppl and did not want to. That’s how much we are into each other” – Rosie
I would like to add, if a random person starts wining on your bae, I beg you don’t – let me repeat that, DO NOT – start a fight or get mad at the person. It is your partner’s responsibility to stop things. The random person who doesn’t know your relationship situation. And I beg you, please don’t be arguing in the fete or on the road. Now, it’s awkward for everyone around.
How long is too long with someone else?
Hopefully, by now you understand that for (most) Caribbean people, wining is just another form of dancing to us. Therefore, in general dancing with another person is not that big of a deal, but there are limits.
- “Rule of thumb: 2 song is too damn long to wine on someone else man/gyal.” – Ni
- One song and keep it moving. 2 songs is a relationship forming lmaoo” – Natalie
- You’re trying to make a baby if you make it to the 2nd song.” – Reddz
- “My first carnival I see an unsuspecting bumpa so i ask for a wine and lawd it was sweet. I tried to get that second song in and felt a heavy tap on my shoulder ‘dis mah wife… one wine is all yuh get.’ Lesson learned sir, lesson learned” – Richard
- “It can be a happy nightmare…lol. Every fete she on her bess behavior…..then J’ouvert come and she have to ask, ‘oh I’m sorry, was that tooo much?’ I SAY, set up guidelines after the first bite of doubles at the airport. My NEW rules:
- 2 songs is too damn long
- no UBER enjoyments (biting lips, tongue out)
- no being picked up
- and no grinding on the back of the jouvert truck with a man in his underwear ehh🤣🤣🤣” – Greg
One thing’s for sure, when attending carnival with your partner, make sure you are on the same page. Discuss what you are both comfortable with and respect the boundaries. If you’re open to wining on others, stick to one song and no crazy antics. Follow these rules and hopefully, carnival doesn’t ruin your relationship.
And if you’re single or find yourself single at some point during your trip, these rules don’t apply to you so maybe you listen to Desert cause one wine is not enough.
Happy Valentine’s Day and Happy Carnival!