Jouvert In Barbados
J’ouvert is described by the dictionary as a large street party during Carnival in the eastern Caribbean region. The word J’ouvert is a contraction of the French ‘jour ouvert’ or dawn/day break.
Here in Barbados we actually do ‘Foreday Morning J’Ouvert’ on the Friday Night before our Kadooment festival on the first Monday of August each year. So this year, I decided to try J’Ouvert with Blue Box Cart hosted by Harbour Lights.
I was extremely impressed as how well organized everything was. You signed up for your package, you are contacted when it is time to collect your t-shirt etc. We drove to Harbour Lights in our car and had some drinks and socialized for a while and then we were bussed down to Trevor’s Way where our band was starting from.
This is where the mud and paint awaited us. J’Ouvert is the opposite to Kadooment. Kadooment is pretty mass with feathers and sequins, pretty make up and very glamorous. J’Ouvert is its counterpart … the dirty mass, where people wear their given shirt, old shorts and old shoes as they get ruined with the mud and paint.
What was nice about this particular band is the age group of the partiers ranged from 17 to 70, so young and old, men and women, girls and boys, all partied together with no segregation. One party for all.
At exactly 11.00pm our drinks truck, music truck, masqueraders and mud set off down the road to the loud sounds of soca. This is when the excitement and fun started. Everyone had a childlike excitement.
The music was blaring with very up tempo beats, people were dancing and chipping down the road (with their own woman). The crowds gathered three and four deep along the sidewalks and watched this epiphany take place.
Everyone was dancing, moving, singing along to the passing tunes and tapping their feet to the popular calypsos as the band passed. But the crowd was not interested in you rubbing up on them or even coming close as they wanted to remain clean. I felt as a participant a little like a fish in a fish bowl being watched.
The excitement was tangible, suddenly a young girl came by being pushed on an old shopping cart with a bucket of mud and smeared everyone that she came into contact with wet gooey mud.
Some brave souls plonked themselves down in the middle of the mud buckets and drenched themselves in mud from head to toe until they were completely unrecognizable as humans and looked like wet grey Martians from out of space. Buckets of paint were passed around in a variety of colours for anyone and everyone to get into the fun of painting and dirtying up everyone around you.
It took me back to being a kid again when you wanted to play in the mud outside but your mom was not impressed by the idea. Well there the object was to get as dirty as possible and then make others around you dirty as well.
Everyone was so happy, smiling and “naughty” as they joined in the fun. Don’t talk about the guys who ended up throwing the dregs of paint out of the buckets over their heads and now wore the bucket as a new and improved headpiece.
Here is a warning to those who have never played mass and are thinking of joining next year. Come out with the full expectancy of getting really dirty if you attempt to stay clean and run from the paint the crowd will pick on you will end up super duper dirty.
When we got to Spring Garden Highway, a lot of Bridgetown market was open and alive with music, sounds and food. A great party like atmosphere greeted us we entered the highway. Once again surrounded by smiling people who were intrigued by how filthy adults can get.
The music was so sweet, the beat gave me all the encouragement to be partying at the break of dawn. Also the jungle juice and drinks served from the bar trucks helped many to enjoy this night of fun.
The only hiccup to the night and a bit of a party downer is as we got to the Deacons Farm playing field at minutes to 3:00 am the police made our music trucks turn off the music. Why? The excuse was because the people in Deacons Farm need their beauty sleep. My argument was the whole of Deacons Farm was on the highway having a free party and fun.
Once again kudos to Harbour Lights as they had busses waiting close by at the end of the highway to take you back to Harbour Lights where hot coffee, tea, sandwiches, apples, muffins and protein drinks awaited you.
It all tasted like food from the Gods as we were hungry from our night of revelry. Some brave souls went into the sea and washed off the remnants from the night’s party
others had put plastic bags and towels over their car seats to save their interiors from permanent paint stains.
If they had been selling tickets to next year J’Ouvert that night, I would have purchased mine on the spot for next year … how many nights need to pass … less than 365. And yes I am counting. What a wonderful night. Well done everyone.
By: Anna Page