Become a Carnival ‘insider’

The Brooklyn Paper
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Brooklyn’s West Indian American Day Carnival is preceded by months of preparations and a busy weekend of activities, including a fierce musical battle between steel bands. Experience the excitement leading up to Carnival like an insider. Go behind-the-scenes to witness the feverish, open-air final rehearsals of New York’s top steel orchestras before they perform in the 2008 Panorama Competition.

It all happens on the 2008 Panyard Tour: From Harlem To Brooklyn.

The tour bus will travel from Harlem to Brooklyn on August 29, when it brings its passengers to the music-filled panyards of the CASYM, Radoes and Pantonic Steel orchestras. The bus coach leaves Harlem at 7 p.m. in front of Harlem’s State Office Building, 363 West 125th Street at Lexington Avenue. It returns at 11 p.m.

Tickets are $50; call 212-749-8758, 718-240-0264 or send an email to

New York’s West Indian Day Carnival originated in Harlem in the 1940s and came to Brooklyn in 1960s. Tour participants will experience the exhilarating live steel drum music of three of New York’s top steel bands as they feverishly prepare for New York’s fiercely competitive annual Panorama competition.

Rhythm is the heartbeat of Carnival. African descendants in Trinidad first starting to beat bamboo sticks on the ground after the British abolished the use of drums in the late 1880s, fearing the rhythms covered dangerous secret messages. By the 1930s, the bamboo sticks gave way to biscuit tins.

The first steel pan instruments were created from used oil drums in Trinidad and Tobago in the 1940s. Since then, steel pans have been at the heart of Carnival. Shaped, pounded and tuned, steel pans create some of the sweetest sounds you’ll ever hear.

Today, steel pan bands with a few dozen people to steel pan orchestras comprised of hundreds practice for months to prepare for Carnival. This phenomenal dedication to the steel pan tradition is the same in New York as it is in the Caribbean.

In addition to exclusive mini-concerts by three of New York’s hottest steel orchestras, tour-goers will sample delicious Caribbean cuisines, special gifts at each stop…and along the way celebrate the 46th anniversary of Trinidad & Tobago’s independence, the birthplace of the steel pan.

The tour will be conducted by Barbara Sealy Rhoden, a Trinidad-born Brooklynite dedicated to sharing and preserving steel pan music and traditions.

Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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