Beat bytes: World Wide Wine-down-de-place

Michael Goodwin prepares us for Trinidad and Tobago's carnival via popular websites

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Pace yourself! Trinidad Carnival falls late this year — Carnival Monday and Tuesday are March 3 and 4 — and you don’t want to run out of steam somewhere in mid-February. The experts advise that you keep exercising to build your stamina, drink lots of fluids, and make your plans early. Accommodation, rental cars and flights get booked up in advance — as do the most coveted sections in the bigger Carnival bands. Luckily there are lots of online resources nowadays to help you plan your trip — or to keep you in the virtual groove, if you can play mas only via the Internet.

Carnival On De Net

(www.trinidad-carnival.com) 

Dedicated to celebrating the thrill of Trinidad-style Carnival, this site is a must-visit for anyone thinking about experiencing the biggest party on earth for the first time. It’s loaded with the latest news flashes, gorgeous photographs, a guide to all the hot fetes, even a listing of calypso tents, and an excellent set of Carnival links. You can also join their mailing list to get regular updates by email. As Carnival draws closer and the excitement grows, this is one of the key sites to watch.

Port of Spain Carnival Map

(www.tidco.co.tt/local/carnival/map/index.htm) 

For serious mas players, a good map of Port of Spain is as as important as a tube of high-power sunblock. This interactive map shows all the Carnival routes, identifies mas camps and panyards, and may suggest the back-street shortcut you need to find your way around police barricades and early-morning crowds.

Island Events

(www.islandevents.com) 

Bewildered by the long list of fetes to choose from? Not sure which events are really hot and which are merely warmish? Don’t know what to wear (God forbid you dress inappropriately for Glow, or show up at Madhatters without your hat)? Island Events is the partying Trini’s reliable guide to these and other crucial issues.

If you plan to play mas, it’s essential to register in advance with the band of your choice. If you live in Trinidad, of course, all you need to do is drive down to the band headquarters, check the sketches, and sign up. However, if you’re coming in from somewhere else, Internet registration makes life easy. Here are three of the most popular mas camp websites:

Harts

(www.hartscarnival.com) 

This high-tech site is worth a look even if you’re playing with another band. Check out all the costumes for Harts’s Las Vegas-inspired 2003 presentation, The Strip.

Poison

(www.poison.co.tt) 

Their slogan is “We Have More Fun,” and anyone who’s seen Poison crossing the Savannah believes it. Here you’ll find scores of photos from last year, and all the costumes for this year’s Fleurs de Passion.

Barbarossa

(www.barbarossaintl.com)

Barbarossa’s site features a hot Flash intro that’s worth the price of admission. Once past the multimedia, you can register for the 2003 mas, Comme Se, Comme Sa.