Before any discussion about J’Ouvert morning – hit play on the video. This has be to discussed against the backdrop of this song.
I’ll disclaimer myself … I am not a J’Ouvert expert. In fact, I think any foreigners who’ve visited Trinidad more than three times for the Carnival, have more J’Ouvert experience than myself. This is for a couple reasons
- None of my Indian friends growing up played J’Ouvert
- All Indian parents in Trinidad, south of the Grand Bazaar, think that you will get raped, pregnant, stabbed or shot during the wee hours of J’Ouvert
- The stereotype was that only poor black people played in J’Ouvert. BTW Completely wrong!!!
- Jab Molaissie would give you the “evil eye”
You get the idea now as to why I’m a fete/Carnival veteran but not a J’Ouvert veteran. J’Ouvert is the closest thing Trinidadians have to Halloweeen (Note – I’m not referring to the faux Halloween parties that the copy cat Trinidadians are doing to mimic Americans and what they see on TV)
How and why to play J’Overt??
This is a great question … and I have two answers for you.
- I typically fall behind a J’Overt band, since there is some security with the trucks. This is the cheapest approach, since it costs NOTHING. Walk with your bottle of desired drink and chip behind a band. If you wear an old plain white T-Shirt … people will toss paint, cocoa and oil all over you. No money required.
- For those who are doing it for the first time – I would recommend playing with a J’Ouvert band. There are many all inclusive bands that can cater to your whims and provide the illusion of safety for you.
There are also J’Ouvert celebrations all over the country. You don’t have to play mas in Port of Spain … but it definitely will not be as busy. There is a trade off with these things in Trinidad. Less people = less opportunity for danger = less energy and the reverse of that equation also applies.
Did I mention that J’Ouvert will also be the cheapest and probably most cultural of all your Carnival experiences? J’ouvert bands congregate around main themes – there are mud bands, paint bands, oil bands, baby powder bands, and most recently chocolate bands! Each band smears themselves in the coverings of their choice and dances through the streets looking for ‘victims’ to smear and throw stuff on. Did I mention that playing in a J’Ouvert band is also cheap … not as cheap as FREE (as my guys did!) but you’ll probably pay less than 50$USD for the entire experience.
J’Overt is also an early morning experience. If you party hard on Sunday night and you’re expecting to do J’Ouvrt also … then I wouldn’t even bother sleeping … since you’re going to be up at 2-3am for a 5 hour stint down the streets of Port of Spain. Note the sunrise in the picture below …
A couple tips
- Don’t wear anything you expect to keep or that you like the look of … it will be stained, painted or ruined.
- Assume that everything you wear will need to be thrown away … including your shoes (unless you bought specific shoes for J’Ouvert … then you’re a BOSS!)
- Wear sunscreen and baby oil on your skin. It will ensure that you can get the paint, oil, powder off your skin. The end result of J’Overt can look something like the pictures below
Also always be aware of where you are and who you are with. Good friends don’t leave anyone behind for other people to make fun of …
Here is a bit more .. with 3Canal and more J’Overt imagry
Here is a link to all our J’Ouvert pictures : http://www.rishisankar.com/Parties/Trinidad-Carnival-2012/JOuvert-2012-February-20th/21554006_R5FVXR