My first carnival – Part 2: Lessons my first carnival taught me
Back in 2014, I experienced my first carnival in Berlin. Part 1 ended with Soca on the Beach, so this is also where I am starting now:
“I want a fat gyal, I want a rolly polly!” It was prime time at Soca on the Beach, as this tune was coming up. People were lit, having their 10th drink in their hands, misbehaving all over the place. “Where are my rolly pollies?”, the DJ was asking the crowd. It didn’t take long until three girls with let’s say a pretty curvy body were entering the stage. It turned out to be a dancing competition where each girl was giving a performance. The crowd loved it, they were shouting, clapping their hands and cheering the girls. I was absolutely amazed by the view and at the same time admiring the dancing skills of these girls. How they were splitting, rolling their massive asses and wining their bodies down the ground as if it was the easiest thing in the world.
Growing up in a world where being as skinny as possible is desirable, I enjoy watching how people are cheering girls who definitely don’t try to look like that. That indicates acceptance and celebration of other body types too (of course I don’t want to advocate for obesity – a healthy body and a healthy weight should always be the goal). Getting to know about different beauty ideals than the ones I grew up with helped me a lot to gain confidence when it comes to my own body. But that’s another story.
When carnival was finally about to happen on that weekend, I was absolutely unprepared. I was doing Fun Mas, as my friends were doing the same, but to be honest, I didn’t even know this whole thing was called Fun Mas (Fun Mas is the cheaper version of participating in carnival – you don’t wear a costume, you just a get a shirt which you individualize by cutting and styling it). Nor did I know that I was supposed to cut my shirt. So I was pretty surprised as I saw my friends starting to cut their shirts early in the morning on the day of carnival.
Even though I would call myself a creative person who has some talent for craft, in that moment I was totally unable to produce anything aesthetic. Being exhausted from the countless number of parties and also being under pressure as we had to leave soon, the result was some kind of distorted looking asymmetrical piece of clothing with an irregular cutting pattern including plenty crookedly cut fringes. It was a mess.
But that didn’t matter. At least I had cut my shirt, had some kind of cool hair style and pretty make up (at least back then I thought it was pretty) and was more than ready to go. So I put on my sandals (!!!!) and left the house. Yeah right, sandals. Despite all warnings, I wore uncomfortable, cheap, plastic sandals for my first carnival. Biggest mistake ever as I would learn later that day.
A dream coming true on the streets of Berlin
As we were finally on the road having our first few drinks, all worries were forgotten pretty quickly. I loved the parade, the people, the music and especially dancing on the streets. I felt free and relieved and with the rum kicking in I was wining my body like crazy on the streets of Berlin. Soon the alcohol was done though, so we were looking for some liquor store. Unfortunately, that turned out to be more difficult than we thought as all the stores were sold out by that time already. The only thing we could get was cheap rum with warm coke. Probably the most disgusting thing I have ever drunk, but there was no other choice.
With some effort and lots of disgust I managed to drink the cheap rum warm coke drink, but the next problem arose in a minute. My feet, which got really dirty in the meantime, started to hurt. Also, the toilet issue came up. Despite all these obstacles, it was still a great day. I loved my first carnival. The music, the sun, the happy people and dancing on the streets – a dream came true. Above all, I was absolutely pleased by the fact that I was able to experience some authentic Caribbean culture in Berlin, Germany, thousands of kilometres away from the Caribbean. That was a highlight for me, which I definitely didn’t expect in that form. I am really grateful for events like Berlin carnival which make it possible for us to experience carnival without travelling so far.
As I came home this evening, totally exhausted, dirty and with destroyed feet and shoes, I dropped dead straight into my bed. I was extremely tired but happy. It was a magical day for me, filled with joyful vibes, a taste of true freedom and a sense of unity.