During the time of slavery, Carnival was introduced to the Caribbean by French settlers in 1783. Banned from the masquerade balls, the slaves would stage mini-carnivals in their own backyards creating new rituals. In so many words, they would pretty much imitate or mock the “party” behavior of their masters.
Let’s talk J’ouvert (pronounced joo-veh) meaning “day break”.
The origins of the street party referred to as J’ouvert coincide with the emancipation from slavery in 1838. People smeared themselves with mud or paint to avoid being recognized and partied down the street late at night while the wealthy were sleeping.
The Bajan version includes calypso music loud enough to send the language of the evening into smiling, waving, toasting, thumbs up or chipping. Chipping is a dance step that is flat footed, knee bent and moving forward, almost as if to “chip” away the street. If the music is right, you can sneak in some whining. This is when people attach themselves to one another by their ‘middle section’ and pulse, sway and thrust to the rhythm in every conceivable manner. Front on front, front to bum – down, up, side to side… You name it. This can be in multiples of two all the way up to a sea of 20!
Ready, set… Here we go!
11:45p – Getting ready to board the bus to the top of the route. Although this “walk” (which means chipping and dancing, referred to as “jumping”) is only about 2 miles, it takes hours to complete due to the pace set by the music and drink trucks.
You can imagine what the inside of everyones cup must look like with the flinging of this nonsense. I’m not quite sure how, but I managed to keep it totally clean. The locals were questioning my strategy. I claim luck.
At the end of the route, they have a huge fire hose that drenches the crowd for a final rinse before we depart. This shower includes perfect music for more… you guessed it, dancing! Yes, the drink truck parks and keeps on serving.
Almost 7 am – Danced in the rain, rinsed off in the parking lot shower party and now it’s come to an end. (Which simply means we get enough time to eat, pretend to rest and get ready for the next carnival party).
I don’t know what I’m more impressed by, the high energy maintained by the open minded participants or the fact that with all of the action, not one fight. Not even one verbal threat. Everyone just laughing and truly enjoying the spirit of Carnival. In my opinion, it’s the way it should be!