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Updated: May 9, 2023

Written by Dr. Donald Farquharson, this blog is timely considering the many mood-changing activities impacting our lives today. Smile for a while with me.

If you prefer, please listen to my Audio Blog on Trinidad Carnival 2023.

In February 2023, thousands of soca chasers converged in Trinidad and Tobago (TT) for their first carnival since the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world. TT is the birthplace of soca and calypso and the largest soca carnival on Earth. My soca journey began in Socaland, TT in 2012. I became an instant addict. The carnival experience has provided me with some of the most incredible and exciting experiences of my life. Since then, I have been travelling to TT to replicate and deepen my soca orgies. Only the unfortunate COVID-19 pandemic could have succeeded in suspending my soca jumps, skanks and wines. After a decade of revelling, my bloodstream was fully permeated with the ingredients that fuel my soca chasing exploits. You can imagine the massive soca tabanca that I experienced awaiting TT Carnival, 2023.

TT Carnival, 2023 – Carnival Tuesday

Happiness is a function of our deliberate actions. I have selected carnival as that important activity that nurtures my spirit and heals my soul. I went to TT Carnival 2023 searching for remedies for the things that disturb my soul.

Jouvert Morning - Monday Morning

Dancehall and soca continues to be stigmatized by some persons ignorant of the historical and cultural linkages between music and dance in the Caribbean. Music and dance were utilized by African slaves, our ancestors, to communicate their spirituality, emotional state and to mitigate the extreme trauma they experienced from slavery. Today, we continue to utilize music and dance to send subliminal messages to our governments, loved ones and enemies alike.

For many soca chasers like myself, music and dance are utilized to create happiness, build memories and enhance health and wellness. TT Carnival 2023 is that antidote that cures all psychological and social ills. It is the perfect stage for our soca exploits to flourish. Soca chasers demonstrate their significant dedication and commitment to soca chasing through the cultivation of building healthy, resilient bodies, and proper financial and logistics planning. As a result of this cultivation, I was able to participate in twelve events for twelve days, inclusive of two days of dancing in the hot, steamy Caribbean sun on the road.

Hot Steamy Day in TT

Planning for TT Carnival 2023

My TT Carnival 2023 journey spanned twelve days from February 10 – 22, 2023. Over the last decade, I have created a number of important relationships that have proven useful in preparing me for my return in 2023. I first secured accommodation from my landlord, Dingo, for all twelve days. I contacted Richard, my rental car agent, and secured a motor car for the said period. I then shared my event list with my Trinidadian, Jamaican and international soca chasing friends who helped me secure tickets. By December 2022, I had secured the following tickets – Tribe Band, Cocoa Devil Jouvert, Vale Vibes, AM Beach, Beach House, Sunnation Sunrise, Bayview, Soca Brainwash and Soaka. While in TT, I added Different and La Rogue to my party list.

Parties I Attended in TT

I proceeded to purchase my airline ticket with Caribbean Airlines in June, 2022. My next major purchase was my costume from Tribe Band, which was secured in September. I also started purchasing my party tickets in October; fortunately, most of my tickets were secured online. I followed most of the events I attended on Instagram and Facebook and joined multiple soca Whatsapp and Facebook groups to keep me current on carnival matters. I packed my outfits, my favourite sunglasses, an array of medication (including general antibiotics, Panadol, etc.), vitamins and all other necessities inclusive of that special comb and brush for styling the silver fox (my signature beard).

Powtronics Engineers and Contractors

I landed before the international soca chasing crowd arrived in TT. This allowed me to lime with the authentic Trinidadian people before the mass crowd arrived. Some days I did no partying and some days I did a maximum of two parties per day to optimize my party experience. I landed on a Friday to get the festive benefit of two full weekends. I returned home on Ash Wednesday to rest up before going back to work. I also visited restaurants, beaches, bars and clubs to add to my TT Carnival 2023 experience. I continued my fitness and wellness routines by walking and running in the Petit Valley community. I also did floor exercises, such as push ups and sit ups, in the apartment. I enhanced my GRED programme for TT Carnival 2023 by eating more vegetables, fruits and vegan protein.

Departure and Arrival

Trinidad Carnival 2023

TT Carnival 2023 was an unparralled awesome experience. Below are highlights of the events that I attended in TT:

Day 1

On February 10, 2023 I landed in Socaland at Piarco International Airport at around 8:30 p.m. After being processed by immigration, I went straight to the Cambio to change some USD to TTD and then to secure a Digicel chip for my telephone. As I exited the baggage area, a customs officer seemed curious about my many bags. He pointed me to an x-ray machine and asked me to unload my two large suitcases, one carry-on suitcase, a computer bag and my duty-free liquor package (Magnums, White Hennessy, Black Label and White Rum) for detailed assessment. This slight delay was pointless. I was there for pleasure not problems.

Richard dropped off a nice speedy Nissan 3.5 XV for me. I sped out of the airport towards Port of Spain and blasted the radio on sweet soca music. I could see the majestic northern range with flickering lights in the distance. I felt a rush of excitement and anticipation in my belly bottom as I drove towards soca city.

I went to meet Dingo and I collected the apartment keys. I sipped a glass of scotch and chatted a bit then I went straight to Ariapita Avenue aka the Avenue to start my Trinidad Carnival 2023 season. The Avenue seemed modernized with more neon lights and a number of new establishments. I loved The Deck, a sexy sports bar with a lovely verandah concept overlooking the Avenue. What remained unchanged, is hundreds of Trini people liming in the bars and on the sidewalks with their alcohol in hands and soca music filling the air.

Frankie’s was the hottest spot on the Avenue and it always delivered. I shared a couple of drinks with my Trini friends who stopped by before they went to Stink & Dutty, the big party of the night. I opted instead for bar and club hopping on the Avenue. The carnival season experience includes authentic cuisine so I stopped at a roadside food shop to eat spicy chicken and fries. Around 2:30 a.m., I left the Avenue for St. James, where I purchased spicy jerk shark sandwich for my breakfast. My first night lived up to my expectations.

Day 2

I was awakened by brilliant sunlight shining through my windows as the morning sun drifted over the hills surrounding Petit Valley. I ate my delicious spicy jerk shark sandwich for breakfast and then went to Movie Towne to pick up my Tribe costume. The professional and efficient setup at the collection site was much appreciated. It took me less than fifteen minutes to collect my costume.

Tribe Collection Site

Downstairs, I went to Tommy’s Brewery, a beautifully designed sports bar with an embedded beer distillery. I drank 3 glasses of their famous beer and ate a well-done spicy salmon. I then asked to be relocated to the courtyard where the views were more breath taking. I watched and engaged with my fellow Tribe revellers as they collected their many costumes.

Tommy's Brewery Delicious Salmon Meal

My Trini friends called and invited me for drinks at The Deck. We drank White Oak Rum and soda while enjoying the ambiance of the Avenue and chatted about our many memories of TT carnival. I was sweet and tipsy when they left to get dressed for the next big party, Fatima. I decided to drive to Chaguaramas to walk the boardwalk, watch the sunset and observe Trini families fish in Williams Bay. This place was so soft on my spirit - loved it.

Williams Bay Fishing

On my way back, I stopped to purchase groceries and dinner (a tuna subway sandwich). My diet while in TT was very conservative. I purchased a case of water, bread, sardines, fruits, vegan protein, almond milk, honey bunches of oats, oats and eggs. Additionally, I purchased ginger, onion, garlic and turmeric to make my medicine and regeneration power juice. My second night was once again spent liming on the Avenue with my friends after they left Fatima. The Avenue was a blast as usual.

Day 3

I did my first 2 parties on Sunday night. I was looking for parking to attend Different, when I drove past La Rogue in full swing on Alexander Street. My attention was grabbed by some elegantly dressed patrons entering the party and decided to crash it. I secured parking at St. Clair Medical Centre Car Park and walked to the venue. I was handed a cup with a smile and directed to the bar. With drinks in hand, scotch and tonic water, I enjoyed friendly and happy Trini people 'getting on bad’ and ‘wining’ to a diverse playlist of soca music. I danced on the spot without directly engaging anyone. The view and the vibes were all I needed. I could not ask for a better start to my night.

La Rogue & Different

Less than 5 minutes away, I walked down to the Queens Park Oval for my second fete, Different. Outside the stadium walls, I paused to acknowledge my cricket idol Vivian Richards, the most aggressive batsman that ever lived. Queens Park Oval stood out in my mind, as I used to listen to great commentators, such as Tony Cozier, describing the exploits of the great West Indian world beaters of the 80’s and 90’s make history.

Vivian Richards, The Great One

The party venue was immaculately laid out, with multiple bars and food spots encircling the venue. There was a vast variety of food and high-end drinks available. I had corn soup, pasta and fish. My drink of choice was scotch and tonic water. The line-up of artists was extensive and impressive. It included top acts such as Bunji Garlin, Fay-Ann Lyons, Patrice Roberts and Olatunji. The performances were high-energy and engaging. The audience members were high and happy. These acts had the crowd eating out of their palms. By the end of the night, we all knew the top songs that would run Trinidad Carnival 2023.

Different Was a Blast

The nicest part of the night was meeting up with two groups of Trini friends that I had partied with for over 7 years. I jumped more than I ‘wined'; however, at one point a lady came behind me and whispered in my ear, “This song is not a wining song.” I responded with a loud laugh. I imagine sometimes my Jamaican hip has a mind of its own. Bunji Garlin’s carnival hit, ‘Hard Fete’ brought the decibel levels in the venue to the highest level. Everyone was jumping and punching the air. This was another amazing party night out.

Day 4

My family does not understand my love for soca and Trinidad. My daughters are not afraid to ask me, “How are your kids doing in Trinidad dad?”, even while knowing that my family in Trinidad are just my Trini friends. These friends are so special to me. They invite me into their homes and cook Trini delicacies for me, like Pelau and Roti. They also secure my party tickets, arrange transportation to parties, purchase my party outfits and monitor my exuberance while at parties.

Monday was dedicated to celebrating my friend’s birthday at a so-called exquisite restaurant called “Jenny’s”. Unfortunately, the food and service were both equally poor. The after party was at the Avenue, sadly everyone went home except me. I ended up at Frankie’s, it was clear that the international soca crowd was now arriving; even a security officer was placed at the entrance. The crowd was so tight we could not move, a beautiful dougla woman used this opportunity to push back a sensual whine on me and left. It was a pleasant sneak attack. Reuniting with family and friends on this night was just amazing.

Day 5

Tuesday night was reserved for Vale Vibes. The party was moved from the Maracas Hills to Drew Manor, Santa Cruz. My Trini friends secured a maxi taxi to take 9 of us to the party. It was a happy feeling to once again meet up with my original party animal crew after 2 years. I was asked, “Where is the Magnum?” I smiled and went back in the house for the White Hennessy and 3 Magnums. I quickly issued a warning about drinking Magnum and that you drink at your own risk. My caution was ignored. At least 3 of the men started drinking and vibing, while we drove through the hilly winding roads. On our arrival at the venue, at least one member of the team was completely drunk and unfortunately, he was left sitting on a cooler most of the night.

Vale Vibes was Hot

This new venue was perfect, the crowd was large and took up all available space. We got special treatment and were placed in a VIP cabana that gave an elevated and full view of the stage. A number of us quickly left the cabana to join the all-out vibes in front of the stage. The twists, turns and gyrations were constant. This space was declared a ‘no standing and no looking zone’. The line-up of artists was heavy including Iwer, Viking Ding Dong, Skinny Fabulous, Nailah Blackman, Bunji Garlin and FayAnn Lyon. I was whining, jumping and screaming at decibels that could hurt your ear. The two top songs were ‘Hard Fete’ by Bunji Garlin and Skinny Fabulous and Nailah ‘Come Home’. The faster-moving song calling for us to stand up with our hands up in big fetes, got my early vote that night.

Soca Chasers Mash Up Di Place

When the music stopped we were still not ready to leave. I was still dancing without music, soca was still playing in my brain. Our coolers were now lighter than when we first came. In the maxi taxi, we had fun laughing at our friend who was still drunk at the end of the night. “Big man yuh mus respek di gyal dem rum. You came to slaughter and you were instead slaughtered” I told him. This was a memory-building night. We drove straight to the Avenue, where we drank the best corn soup I have ever had, I had two cups. Vale Vibes delivered and took the number 1 spot.

From there we went to Frankie’s for the after-party. We got tables in the reserved section where we drank and dance until late. My unfit status was exposed when a big-bodied woman forced me to whine down low, I could not come back up, but she kindly and gently helped me up, CHO!!!!

Nuspecies Health and Wellness

Day 6

Tuesday afternoon was reserved for Scorch DDI boat ride. The beauty of TT is best seen while sailing along the coastline of the islands. I continue to be in awe of its beauty, especially when the evening sun hit the beautiful northern ranges and the sun dips on the horizon. I also love looking at the high-rise buildings on the waterfront and the luxurious houses on the hillsides. I think the best place to dance to soca is on a boat, especially to groovy soca music like Voice “Cheers to Life”. Scorch DDI remains the sexiest party of the season. Soca people were out in their numbers, the sun was hot and high, the coolers were open and alcohol was flowing.

For most of this party, I was very reserved. My greatest fun came from seeing so many familiar soca chasers. It felt like the 250 soca chasers in the Mango Promotions soca whatsapp group were all at the Scorch DDI boat ride. Love, respect and friendship were the order of the day. Soca hugs reinforced the admiration and mutual love we all share for each other. At the peak of the party, alcohol and gyration were on steroids; even the captain got in the act by swaying the boat side to side to magnify the soca madness in session. At nightfall, those patrons who found love and intoxication, were clearly not ready to exit the boat. I left the boat totally exhausted, I had another boat party scheduled to start at 8 pm that night that I had to bypass. Scorch DDI delivered even though I was not at my best.

Day 7

Every soca chaser knows that a beach party must be on their carnival party list, to make it complete. Thursday morning was dedicated to AM Beach at Maracas Bay, a vibrant seaside village at the base of the beautiful lush green Maracas hills. I had two dates for this party, my sexy Sierra Leone friend, Cree and the pretty Trini influencer, Michelle.

Black Pearls & Dark Chocolate Man

I was asked to transport these ladies to AM Beach. The party was scheduled to start at 5 am, but at 9 am I was still parked up in their apartment complex for over an hour waiting. I maintain a calm straight face when they finally appeared, I must confess that they were perfect Black Pearls. The drive through Saddle Road was a first for me, the rural scenery was beautiful and the hilly narrow road tested my driving skills. The conversation was vibrant and interesting.

I dropped the ladies at the front of the event and went to park, but when I came back they were nowhere to be seen. The crowd was big, the ladies were beautifully dressed in their varied colourful skimpy beach outfits, and everyone was happy and friendly. As I walked to get breakfast I met and greeted many soca chasers. There were so many familiar faces in the venue, I knew I would have a breakout moment in this party. I ate a small amount of food, pasta and chicken, just to provide enough energy for what was to come. The beautiful backdrop of the Maracas Bay and Hills creates a nested soca heaven; I started sweating from I entered the party.

AM Beach & Friends

I stood in front of a large tent that provided a shaded area before the massive stage. The vibe was already ‘tun up’, many persons came early and were already intoxicated by not just alcohol but the environment. The party was happening so naturally, the tempo and vibes were constantly elevating. By the time the Vibes Man hit the stage the party tun ova. When Skinny Fabulous and Nailah Blackman came to centre stage, it was clear that their mega-hit song was loved by the ladies, they had a big choir bellowing out the words “Come Home” over and over. Bunji Garlin and Fay Ann Lyons were masterful on stage, but Skinny and Nailah took the ‘mawning’.

Nailah Blackman on Stage

In front of me was an energetic older lady, who facilitated my first, second and third dances. I became her go-to dancer, her smile was as bright as the Maracas morning sun and her energy was contagious. However, my mawning was elevated, when a Nigerian crew came and stood next to me. The ancestral connections were seamless and immediate. I was taught how to do the African soca wine. One of the Nigerian queens challenged me to whine down low, I told her I am 76 years old; I took note of her height and strong thighs, and declared that I won’t be embarrassed twice in one visit. I needed rum, I offered to buy them drinks at an all-inclusive party, and she smiled and accepted. On our way to the bar, I was stopped by my friends who seem adamant to protect me from this beautiful African soca queen. At that moment, my new friend went missing. When I arrived at the bar a gentleman was already keeping her company. He said “Your wife is a beautiful woman, I am protecting her for you sir”, I graciously chest hug him and thanked him for his good deed...Ha!

Close to the end of the party, a text came in from my passengers, asking where I have been and directing me to their location. I wished my Nigerian friends’ good bye and went to find my passengers. As I walked through the crowd for about an hour, I confidently slaughtered many friendly bumpers in the hot midday sun. I was sweating like a pig as the midday sun fueled my energy. I finally met up with my passengers who both seem genuinely happy to see me, we all hugged and I took a couple of delicate wines. The drive back home was enjoyable as the ladies shared their experiences at the party; it felt like I was at a different party. Clearly, I was there to dance and they were there to look pretty. AM Beach delivered and it toppled Vale Vibes from the number 1 spot.

Bunji on Stage

My second party of the day was Beach House, an ultra-all-inclusive party held down central. On a flight to Trinidad Carnival 2012, I was told by a friend that Beach House and Diamond Vale were the two (2) must do parties. He provided contacts for me to access tickets, which I was successful in securing. These parties were the standards for high-end parties in TT until Sunnation Sunrise came along.

Beach House was held at their original home at Seville Golf Course Couva. The party was held on a hill with a beautifully manicured lawn next to a sugar plantation. The venue was large and spacious which allowed for an efficient layout of the party services. The drive to the party was slow as there was horrendous traffic; it took about 2 hours. Walking into the venue replicated the ambiance of 11 years ago, it was still just as beautiful then as it was now.

Soca with Style

They had a diverse food court with many delicious foods on the menu – sushi, shrimp, pasta, fish, chicken, soup, pastries, etc. The night came quickly, the hard liquor bars were very large and strategically located with lots of servers. There were also designated wine and snow cone bars which were in high demand. The night was hot, this influenced my alcohol and water intake, as well as the snow cone Compari which was very nice. The veteran Iwer George was energetic as he delivered his usual set with a long list of popular songs. I stayed away from the front of the stage knowing that at some point he will sing the “people want watta”. My favourite act of the night was Patrice Roberts, my favourite female soca artist, she reminded us to “drink water and mind our business”. Beach House delivered for the exaggerated and classy dress code or as we would say ‘stush’ soca party goers. It remains sentimental to me, but it requires rebranding to remain relevant.

More to come in the continuation of this blog on MY SOCA JOURNEY: TRINIDAD CARNIVAL 2023 VOLUME 2.

Mag-Tek HVA Systems

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Jul 09, 2023

Love it Don.... great read and have shared with my non -carnival going friends!!!


Donovan Moore
Donovan Moore
Jul 08, 2023

I admire the way you capture the moments and knit it aII together, in a way that aIIows your readers to feeI Iike they were on the exciting journey with you!!! It remind me of our work trip to Breezes Mobay many moons past...


Jul 05, 2023

Another great read Don. I definitely need to experience Trinidad Carnival in 2024 🙃


lynn-marie hoyte
lynn-marie hoyte
Jul 02, 2023

Frankies on the Ave. was a full vibe of its own. No where else can you find such an experience!


lynn-marie hoyte
lynn-marie hoyte
Jul 02, 2023

Frankies on the Ave. was a full vibe of its own. No where else can you find such an experienc!

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