BIRDS, butterflies and other flying creatures were among the costumes that sought to take flight on Wednesday at the Queen’s Park Savannah.
But by the end of the semifinals of the Kings and Queens of Carnival competition, some of them had been blown out of the competition because of wind.
It is normal for costumes to have difficulty with the gusts over the Big Stage.
However, we have never had a situation where two of the hot favourites – including a veteran competitor as well as a previous winner – have been toppled by gales, to the extent that there have been threats of legal action to possibly restore both to the finals at Dimanche Gras on Sunday.
Ravi Lakhan’s Zeus: King of the Gods ended up in an ungodly position after falling over, while Ted Eustace’s Dracotaur (Lord of the Under Seas) was sunk in the rankings because the winds were so strong he was not able to perform as he would have liked.
He placed 15th with 397 points, while Mr Lakhan managed 17th with 394 points. Both had ranked in the top five in the previous round, with Mr Lakhan topping the field.
In the past, competitors have blamed “freak” winds when things like this happen. Some have criticised the infrastructure at the Savannah, saying there should be windbreakers. Others now say the competition’s rules should not penalise people for matters beyond their control, suggesting the heavy breeze was an “act of God.”
The truth is there was nothing really one-off about the weather on Wednesday. In fact, gusty winds also caused difficulties at the preliminary round last Thursday.
Whether masqueraders are restored to the contest or not through legal action or otherwise, these episodes plainly highlight a deeper issue: that of design.
Over the years, there have been attempts to return the mas to its kinetic origins, in which the whole idea was to mirror the motion of the body. The rule stipulating only two wheels was meant to stop floats from crossing the stage.
Yet, Mr Lakhan’s costume was cut from the same cloth as more recent trends, measuring 35 feet in width by 40 feet in height.
However, the issue is not just one of scale. The materials used, the ability of the masquerader to truly move, as well as the overall shape of the depiction also come into play.
The dwindling interest in massive costumes, reflected by empty stands this month, betrays a sense that while Carnival has changed, some of these costumes have been held back, notwithstanding the fact that they are the product of enormous effort, passion and, in some cases, spending.
Perhaps the winds carry a message competitors need to heed.