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Waiting… (Yellow)

That moment when the stage in sight but security holding your section back until it clear, so you waiting… but you ready to play yuh mas, play yuh self. The minute they say ‘Go!’ is madness up in here!

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Trinbagonians, you know what I’m talking about.

In fact, anyone who has been to Trinidad & Tobago Carnival and played mas’ will know the feeling! It’s all about crossing the big Stage in Queen’s Park Savannah (aka The Big Yard) and every masquerader in every band wants their turn to play themselves and show off their costume to crowd and media cameras.

Of course, this means the people-traffic is heavy. The Savannah and band security officials have to literally link arms to form a line across the entrance to the Stage to keep the next set of masqueraders from slipping between them and on to the Stage.

(Apologies in advance if you’re not from the Caribbean. Some posts just cannot be written in anything but Trinbagonian slang. Please bear with me, I’ll link to definitions where possible. Just put on your best Caribbean accent and read the words as they sound, it will all make sense. Honest!)

So picture it… one section of your carnival band is currently on stage parading, dancing, wining down de place and showing off their costumes to the fullest for the crowds and the cameras. Thanks to security, no other costume but their fellow masqueraders’ in their section (with identical costumes) is on show. The impact is stunning. Either giant feathery plumage, bright swathes of fabric, or some other stunning feature is on every person all over the Stage and the masqueraders wearing these works of art are obviously having the time of their lives. Every time certain songs play they go absolutely mental, jumping and shouting the words in glee and wild abandon. It’s a gorgeous and addictive thing to behold. You want to be them. You want to feel that free, that happy!

Now imagine that you’re in the section just at the lip of the Stage getting ready to prance on and play your mas’. The security boys and dem still have arms locked to create an impenetrable line, but they smiling at the ladies who wining seductively on them in the hopes of that they could slip through and get on the Stage. Most of the security fellas just begging, “allyuh calm down, your turn coming” because you could hear the music and the same way it riling up the masqueraders on stage, it riling you too! Yuh foot want to move, yuh waist done rocking, yuh ready ready ready to jump but…. de security boys and dem in de way!

As Machel Montano put it in his 2016 soca hit Waiting on the Stage, “Is whole year that we waiting… and we anticipating”. Incidentally, this is the song that inspired this painting.

But I digress… where were we? Right! Security holding we back and we eager to get on de Stage. In time (that seems longer than it actually is), another line of security fellas begin to slowly sweep the current ‘prancers’ from the stage to clear the way for your section. Your security fellas watching carefully, they know this is when they have to watch out for those who just can’t take it no more and even 1 more minute is too much to wait. Finally, when at least three quarters of the Stage has been cleared, your security boys unlock arms, holding themselves sideways with arms down so they don’t get trampled by the stampeding herd of ecstatic masqueraders running, dancing, prancing, wining, jumping their way on to the Stage.

Meanwhile the Savannah DJ aint helping none, yuh know he done start to play the most incendiary soca track he could find. This year, Machel’s #WatitingOnTheStage would definitely top that list. This is definitely one of the tunes that every masquerader was shouting at the top of their lungs. This was the song that held them in the lull until the chorus lit them like a match on gasoline and then they just had to jump and dance and party like there was no tomorrow!

And so, thanks to one home-sick Trini listening to soca and wining in a cold studio by herself while listening to #MachelMontano, I give you ‘Waiting…’ – deep blues into reds and deep pinks into pale yellow and cream as the base for a side profile of a curvy masquerader with a big head of curls, all outlined in pale blue. She and her hair are bouncing in preparation for the moment when she can cross the stage, let loose and play her mas’!

She was so nice, I painted her twice in Yellow, then in Blue…and listened to a load more #Machel too, of course!

This piece was part of the collection I created especially for Carnival Expo 2016, which was held at The Oval in London.

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