Carnival, Trinidad

Elaborate, brightly coloured costumes. Beautiful women – and men to be fair – at every turn of the head. The driving bass beat of Soca. The crisp, ringing notes of steel pan. The lilting lyricism of Calypso. Bright, hot sunlight – in February. The smoky, sweet aroma of barbecue. Dancing in the streets night and day. This is the sensory overload, the hedonistic celebration, that is Carnival in Trinidad

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Months of planning and weeks of fêtes culminate in a two-day bacchanal celebrating life before the beginning of Lent.

J’ouvert (pronounced joovay) marks the beginning of the two-day, almost non-stop apex of Carnival. Revelers take to the streets in the wee hours of the morning, caking themselves in mud or smearing themselves with paint and dance to music with a beat so strong it cuts to your very core. The dance is the ‘chip’. J’ouvert evokes a time in Trinidadian history when slaves rose up against their owners, using mud to disguise their appearances. Want to just step outside to get a glimpse of the goings on? Nope. J’ouvert is a participation sport. J’ouvert celebrants consider it their duty to ensure anyone they encounter who isn’t muddied becomes so immediately. Resistance is futile. Surrender yourself. Wear old clothes or better yet a swimsuit. Get dirty. Celebrate. It washes off. Continue reading