The Story Behind the Lost Tribe, Trinidad and Tobago Carnival’s Most Fashionable Band

On Tuesday morning, sound trucks equipped with speakers, DJ gear, and steel pans crawled through Port of Spain as masqueraders donning carnival costumes with wings and crowns danced behind them. At Victoria Square, members of the Lost Tribe carnival band donned backpacks adorned with drapery, butterfly clusters, and capes. Throughout the capital city, sweet soca and calypso music boomed, announcing the arrival of carnival. Valmiki Maharaj, the Lost Tribe’s creative director and bandleader, states, “If you hear any noise in the background, they’re music trucks on the Avenue. Welcome to carnival.” Maharaj is a designer, editor, strategist, and visionary who wears many hats, from “head cook” to “bottle washer.”

Revelers who join the band put their own spin on the theme and create their own costumes. Trinidad and Tobago’s carnival is the biggest in the Caribbean, and costuming is at the heart of this magnificent spectacle that draws the diaspora home. Maharaj, who hails from Barataria, a borough 20 minutes east of Port of Spain, says, “We’re a strange mix of costuming, performance, entertainment, party, all in the same thing.” This humble tradition has blossomed into a magnetic ritual that captivates all who witness it.
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