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ISLAND PROFILE 36 lime October - December 2008 l Carnival If the economy is the driving force of Trinidad, Carnival is its essence. Carnival was brought to Trinidad in the late 18th century by French planters, but since then has become unmistakably Trinidadian. The Trini model has spawned a host of imitations globally, including London's Notting Hill Carnival. Many Trinis live for Carnival, enduring the rest of the year merely as a prelude to the party season. Boxing Day brings an abrupt end to Christmas and an abrupt start to Carnival build- up. It also brings an explosion in gym memberships, but this is not about post- Christmas guilt, it's all about looking good ' jumping up' on Carnival Monday and Tuesday. The volume of joggers, daily circling Port of Spain's vast Queens Park Savannah, increases in direct proportion to the proximity of Carnival. Not that their efforts are always taken seriously. A well- endowed young woman in tight sports top had slowed to a walk just as a van full of workmen crawled past in Friday afternoon traffic. Falling out of the window, the driver called despairingly: " Oh Looorrrrrrrd, run for meh gyal, run for meh!!!!" The pre- Carnival period is characterised by a proliferation of fetes ( parties) with the best of Trinidad's musical talent displayed across its divergent range of styles. Whether your preference is for Machel Montano leaping around wildly or the extraordinary, and frankly inspiring, experience that is Denise ' Saucy Wow' Belfon and her ' Bicycle Wine', there is something to suit everybody's tastes. ' Wining' – described by Cote ci, Cote la Trinidad and Tobago Dictionary, as the ability to ' rotate the waist and hips in a suggestive manner' – and how proficient you are at it – is a matter of significant pride. Trinidadians begin wining in the womb; either that or they're born with a ball and socket joint where their coccyx should be. Whichever, the women especially, standing straight- backed and legs apart, display an incredible ability to rotate and bounce their glutes with whirring pace and rhythm. It's mesmerising; like watching a washing machine on fast- spin cycle. l Nightlife Trinis love to party all year round and equally, they love to know that a guest is having a good time. Visitors should be wary of the ' one- more' syndrome though: I've lost count of the times I've said my goodbyes, anticipating the end of an evening, only to turn around and find another Carib beer waiting expectantly. Socially, Port of Spain is the place to be and the number and range of bars, clubs and nightspots is extraordinary, and growing. Ariapita Avenue is a hotspot, with favoured locations including the friendly open- air ambience of Shakers ( Tuesday's place- to- be); the recently- opened Satchmo's Jazz Restaurant & Lounge; and, another 2007 addition, the Coco Lounge, has a well- attended Thursday ' Miami Night' ( featuring Latin dance/ music). Elsewhere, More Vino ( O'Connor Street), is popular with Friday after- work limers; whilst Trotters Sports Bar, ( Maraval Road), Aura ( Cipriani Boulevard), and the mercifully-authentic, English- themed, Bat and Ball pub ( Queens Park Oval) enjoy reliable crowds throughout the weekend. For Trinidad nightlife in the raw, though, visit the famed Smokey and Bunty's, in St James. St James by night is a bustlingly eclectic scene; there's dancing in the roads, bottle and spoon playing, street artists erecting bottle towers alongside corn soup vendors, music erupting from every bar and car. The epicentre is often Smokey and Bunty's and there you will find ' characters'. I spent an hour one night in swaying conversation with a glassy- eyed Trinidadian in dishevelled clothing purporting to be a scientist conducting research on the Arctic Wolf. He was disconcertingly lucid on the subject. Of the nightclubs, Zen's RAH Wednesdays ( Reggae, Alternative, Hip Hop) are a great way to start the weekend run- in, followed by Thursdays at 51 Degrees which includes karaoke from 10- 12 before soca/ reggae/ party music. In the South, San Fernando's newly-established Prive is enjoying a growing reputation. This split- level club has an open chill- out area downstairs which is great for taking a breather. For regular dance and theatre shows ( bawdy local productions offer an insight into the Trini sense of humour) visit The Little Carib, Queen's Hall and Central Bank Auditorium. Christopher Columbus named Trinidad the ' Trinity' after the three peaks in the south east of the island. The first successful oil well drilled in Trinidad was at Aripero in 1866. did you know? Marine haven. A view over Charlotteville GETTY IMAGES ll

October - December 2008 lime 37 Catching up with friends is serious business in Trini! A pretty fine time. Months of preparation go into making Carnival colourful, vibrant and lots of fun... GETTY IMAGES