It’s mid-winter and that means Carnival is near. Although I’m not going back to Trinidad for Carnival this year, I’m reminded of my first J’ouvert experience.
J’ouvert (French pronunciation: [ʒuvɛʁ]) is a large street party during Carnival in the eastern Caribbean region. J’ouvert is a contraction of the French jour ouvert, or dawn/day break.
I’ve only seen J’ouvert in Brooklyn and end results (and news) were never positive. In honor of Machel Montano’s song ‘The Fog’, the band’s theme was “We Foggin It!!”. In addition to the paint and powder, my cousin’s All-Inclusive J’ouvert Band: Syn City had a fog machine that everyone loved I got ready WAY too early. I was showered, lotioned and my hair was covered and tied up by 10 PM. We were to meet at 3 AM for initial setup, filling paint buckets, handing out the remainder of t-shirts and bags that included powder, water, juice, a few snacks, and some toiletries from sponsors for all participants.
Parade Route? Hmmmm….I know for sure we weren’t by the Savannah like Red Devils and Red Ants, but the walk around Port of Spain in the wee hours of the AM was a totally different experience for me. I literally leaned on the trust of my cousins (there were a good six or seven of us). It worked out because in all of the fun, we still all looked out for each other in the midst of the crowd. The best part was my 18 yr old cousin making his own ‘J’ouvert debut’ as we sure threw a good chunk of paint on him. Although I understood the custom, the throwing of paint and powder was weird for me. I was more into singing and dancing.
No lie, the 4-5 hours that we were out there seemed like ALL night. My body ached from all the dancing, my feet hurt from all the jumping, but I had a great time! From spending time with family I don’t get to see as much, to meeting new friends, it was fun.
You can check out some pictures and videos from my first J’ouvert experience in the video below
Have you played J’ouvert before?