The Energizer Bunny Meets Charlie Sheen – The Return of the Stage

March 16, 2011

“The stage is in front of us, time to get advantageous…..”

It wasn’t my first time hearing this song. By that time I had heard it what felt like a million times, every night at every fete, blaring from cars in the streets and in the soca soundtrack that invaded my dreams every night in Trinidad.

But this time was different. It was real. My friends and fellow masqueraders Mel and Cass were to my right smiling so hard you’d think they just won a million dollars  and the stage was right in front of us. Literally. We were in the front line of our section in the very first row set to cross the stage. Security had formed a human barricade less than 2 feet in front of us, linking arms to form a wall of man muscle that only heightened our desire to break through like we were playing an adult version of Red Rover.

“The stage is in front of us, time to get advantageous…..”

Wait a minute, that doesn’t sound like the recording….No, it can’t be…..I looked over the sea of pink feathers in my section and sure enough, the 2011 Soca Monarch Machel Montano was on top of the DJ truck in front of the stage preparing to perform his hit song for us live as we crossed the stage! After hours of overcast skies, the sun started peeking out of the clouds and a vibrant sea of colors, jewels and feathers was brilliantly revealed as our anticipation reached an unprecedented boiling point. It was at that moment that I remembered the advice of a dear friend of mine who noticed I’m always the one taking pictures. I had been showing her dozens of photos of some event I had attended but couldn’t remember details of what had happened during the event. She then gently suggested that sometimes it is better to experience the moment than to miss it trying capture it on camera.

I smiled as I remembered her advice and tucked my camera away in my fanny pack because I already knew the next few minutes would be moments I would want to remember forever. I secured my fanny pack straps, checked my shoelaces, looked over at Mel and Cass and waited….

“Stamp on it, stamp on it, jump on it, jump on it…”

It felt like the earth was moving beneath my feet as hundreds of people started stomping on the ramp to the stage. The entire band began jumping and screaming while security nervously awaited their cue to release us onto the stage. As Machel began the first verse of his award-winning tune, security broke their linked arms and ran for their lives as we rushed the stage, bursting at the seams at level of energetic insanity that only Charlie Sheen could explain. Adrenaline is a helluva drug. People were whining on their heads, busting out in spontaneous acrobatics, blowing out their knees, backs, shins and any other body part required to whine to the side, drop to de groun, stamp on it, trample it, jump on it, and take advantage of the stage that had finally returned to Trinidad Carnival after so many years. Photographers and videographers tried to simultaneously capture the moment and dodge flying body parts as the masqueraders performed all kinds of trapeze backflip whine-in-mid-air-and-land-in-a-split antics for the paparazzi.

It felt like a lightning-fast eternity as I ran around in circles with absolutely no rhyme, reason or direction, whining on 10 different people in a matter of minutes as fast and as hard as my 30 something year old knees could tolerate. I’m pretty sure I almost fell off the stage at one point and honestly didn’t care because it was so worth it. I didn’t care about getting splinters in my palm from trying to whine on one leg with my hand on the stage and hold my other leg up while (um…nevermind don’t even ask). I didn’t care who trampled my foot instead of trampling the stage. And I didn’t even flinch when I finally pulled out my camera at the end of the stage and ended up dropping it b/c some dude tried to whine me off the ramp (RIP Sony Cybershot – You fought the good fight) It was all worth it, because the stage was back, after a 5 year hiatus. If I could meet the current Prime Minister of Trinidad I would thank her for bringing back such a powerful experience back to Carnival. Since that will likely never happen, instead I’ll put on my headphones, sit back at my desk chair, (cry soft bittersweet tears of joy in my cube reminiscing of one of the most fun weeks of my entire life) and allow Machel to echo my sentiments:

“Leh we thank de govern ment ment ment ment
they take we off the pave ment ment ment ment
And it was well worth every cent cent cent cent
I say they’re intelligent

Cuz we so amazed
We get back we stage
So go give me away,
We taking advantage yea
One the stage
Dem girl on the stage
For two day we dey we dey

We here for de stay
To turn on de rage
Cannot behave
Stay for we claim
We taking advantage….”

(Check out the video below to relive the moment for yourself 🙂

Approaching the stage
Found the whole crew after we crossed the stage!
Me and Machel (we go way back)

I did it!!

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  • Reply melody March 16, 2011 at 7:54 pm

    Luv it! The best thing about your post is how you have embraced our culture (we) tend to take it for granted because (we) live and breathe it everyday. It's refreshing to read your perspective – reminding (us) of how magical it truly is!

  • Reply niks March 16, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    Tuche! And my back still hurts from trying to wine so hard u'da though I was trying to win a spot on soul train…lol.

    Great experience

  • Reply Dana March 18, 2011 at 3:12 am

    Your storytelling is magnificent Tracey! You make me wanna go everywhere with you. That said, when's your next adventure? 😉

  • Reply Tracey Michelle March 18, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Thanks Ladies!

    My stop is Panama City, Florida for a wedding and my next international stop is St. Kitts later this year though I'd LOVE to squeeze another one in this summer – preferably somewhere warm with water and drinks with umbrellas 🙂 I'll keep you posted!

  • Reply shells March 19, 2011 at 4:58 am

    love this post…makes me feel like I'm living the experience.

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