Blue Devils in Trinidad

Blue Devils are one of the traditional characters of Trinidad Carnival, dating back hundreds of years. Every year in Paramin, a mountainous area about half an hour from Port of Spain, they come out on Carnival Monday (and possibly some other days, I’m not sure), so I decided to go and check them out, without really knowing what to expect apart from they were meant to look scary.

We arrived in Paramin at about 5:30pm, which was a good time to get there. There was a crowd of people standing and waiting (almost all local people, all ages) and we could hear strange noises (screaming, blowing of whistles etc.) coming from higher up in the mountains, so we knew the Blue Devils were on their way down to the crowd.

When they started to come into view, we could see that they were all blue (no surprises there), and many of them were in pairs – one being held by another one with a rope, like a dog on a leash. A lot of them had some strange gooey spit stuff coming out of their mouths, and many had scary instruments in their hands like pitch-forks. They were making weird jerky movements and basically looked like they were possessed.

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Very soon, they started picking on individual people from the crowd. As you can see in the pictures, some of the Blue Devils have bags, and this s because they want to collect money from the crowd. If they pick on you, they’ll come and stare at you, blow their whistle right in front of your face, poke you with their pitch-fork… things like that. To make them stop, you have to give them a dollar.

My tactic was to avoid eye contact with them, but unfortunately that didn’t work, and I genuinely felt a sense of urgency when I was fishing for that dollar in my pocket. They’re really creepy!

More groups of devils came and at about 6:30 the crowd followed all the devils down the hill for about 10 minutes until we reached what I guess is the centre of Paramin but I’m not sure. It had marquees and shop selling things like fried chicken and alcohol, and a DJ playing soca and trying to hype up the crowd. The Blue Devils continued scaring the crowd for a while and then most of them disappeared and it turned into a kind of street party.

I had a great time and found that the atmosphere was very free and non-judgemental so you could really have fun in whatever way you wanted, which is probably why I ended up climbing up on a wall and dancing on there for a bit. This is me with one of my Trini friends, Giselle:

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I’m not sure how late it went on, but we were all tired from Jouvert so we left at about 9pm after a few hours of dancing and general misbehaviour.

I would definitely recommend this as part of your Trinidad Carnival experience, and if you don’t know how to get to Paramin, just ask a friendly looking local.

 

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