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You're grooving down the streets of a  Third World capital to the beat of infectious native anthems. Before you, music is pounding out of dozens of huge speakers on the back of a truck.
The rhythm of the music controls your body. You can't help but move. And the  drumbeat seems to tell you what to do.
You're hot.
But it feels great.And it's not just you. Someone you don't know gyrates against your thigh in an intimate fashion. Behind you thousands more dance in the streets. All different colours of people, even blue and green. Most are headed in the same direction as you. Following the music.
They're all dressed in colourful costumes, in some cases, just lingerie. Armies of colourful tropical revelers surround you; each battalion has its uniform. You look at yourself and realize that you…are one of them.
Thirst overcomes you and you take a drink. You don't know what's in it, but your head is clearing up. You ask yourself, "Where am I? How did I get here?"
The deejay changes tune. You focus on a guy who jumps on the truck and is practically making love to a speaker. Things start getting clearer.

You're at St. Lucia Carnival. You're in the Bacchanal Zone.

You barely had a week to recover from the St. Lucia Jazz Festival when the Calypso Tents started. Every weekend since – and even some weeknights - you've been up until two in the morning digging thoughtful, clever calypso and mindless, infectious soca. Next thing you know, you joined a Carnival costume band, and found yourself helping to build costumes. You didn't sleep for weeks. Somehow you didn't need to. You even found yourself at countryside calypso shows and pageants.
Then the big shows started: Panaroma, where the big steel pan bands gather to do musical battle against each other. The six-hour Calypso Semi-Finals, an explosion of song. The National Soca Monarch Championship and the regional one. And the big finale, the Calypso Monarch Finals.
It's all coming back.
This is the climax. It's a battle. A street fight for the Championship Crown of Best Carnival Costume Band. You're a soldier. If only all war was like this. Before you feel a pang of guilt for dancing wantonly with strangers, you remember something you heard while building costumes. Carnival was the brainchild of a medieval Pope who wanted people to 'let it all out' in time for Lent.

Carnival is actually a tool for promoting piousness. Cool.

As you dive back into the frenzy of body, mind and spirit, you realize that it might already be working. You probably won't drink for a while after this. Chalk one up for the Pope.
But of course, you'll be back next year.


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