National Geographic Traveller (UK)

Feel the rhythm

Trinidad is the birthplace of world-famous genres of music and dance, the pulsating rhythm echoing throughout the streets, bars and festivals. Words by: Tenille Clarke



Whether you’re head-bopping to the slowpaced melodies of a groovy soca song or working up a sweat to the vibrato of power soca, there’s no doubt that soca music will keep you moving. Born in Trinidad, the genre is the offspring of Caribbean calypso and West African kaiso — it’s known as the ‘soul of calypso’. Attend one of the many fete parties held in Trinidad throughout the year for a dose of unbridled soca euphoria.


The sweet sounds of pan are mesmerisin­g. The steel pan is a chromatica­lly pitched percussion instrument, played with wooden sticks tipped with a strip of rubber, first made in the 1930s from metal oil drums in Laventille, Trinidad. It’s the only acoustic musical instrument invented in the 20th century. In the height of the Trinidad carnival season, thousands of music lovers congregate for Panorama, an electrifyi­ng display of the extraordin­ary national instrument. Year round, watch hundreds of pan players, or pannists, practise their skills in ‘pan yards’ across the island.


The towering aerial displays of the moko jumbies are thrilling. They’re skilled dancers, animatedly performing on wooden stilts soaring up to 10ft high during cultural events and carnival. Dressed elaboratel­y in ornate costumes, colourful wings, signature hats and painted faces, they represent traditiona­l characters believed to be West African ancestral guardians of the spirit world. Specialise­d schools — including the San Fernando School of The Arts Kaisokah Moko Jumbies and Dragon Keylemanja­hro School of Arts and Culture — offer curious travellers the opportunit­y to sign up to learn this unique skill.

 ?? ?? Clockwise from left: steel pan drums; Maracas beach; moko jumbies at a street carnival in Port of Spain
Clockwise from left: steel pan drums; Maracas beach; moko jumbies at a street carnival in Port of Spain

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