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J’Ouvert Morning in Trinidad

The Trinidad Carnival begins with J’Ouvert, which happens to be the French word for “day opens”. It takes place before dawn on Carnival Monday.

The Trinidad Carnival officially kicks off with J’Ouvert morning. And for many partygoers, the carnival also ends with J’Ouvert. J’ouvert, which happens to be the French word for “day opens” takes place before dawn on Carnival Monday. It is the first party that takes place in the early hours of carnival Monday morning. During J’Ouvert, partygoers gather on the streets of Port-of-Spain with their bodies covered in mud, oil coca and many other forms of body paint to party on the streets. Trinis refer to J’Ouvert as dutty mas because you will get dirty during J’Ouvert morning. jouvert-fireblower

J’Ouvert

The Trinidad Carnival officially kicks off with J’Ouvert morning. And for many partygoers, the carnival also ends with J’Ouvert. J’ouvert, which happens to be the French word for “day opens” takes place before dawn on Carnival Monday. It is the first party that takes place in the early hours of carnival Monday morning. During J’Ouvert, partygoers gather on the streets of Port-of-Spain with their bodies covered in mud, oil coca and many other forms of body paint to party on the streets. Trinis refer to J’Ouvert as dutty mas because you will get dirty during J’Ouvert morning.

What to Wear on J’Ouvert

J’ouvert is actually pronounced Jou-vay. Many visitors consider it to be like Halooween for adults. Crowds wake up early in the morning before the rooster crows and cover themselves in mud and head on to the streets. Although mud is the most popular choice, people also use motor oil, axle grease, greasepaint, real paint and a host of other dirty stuff that you can smear all over your body. People will also throw mud, powder and water on each other in this wild and crazy party. Unlike the carnival, you don’t have to wear any costume to J’Ouvert. You can simply wear clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty. This is important because when j’Ouvert is finished, you will most likely be throwing these clothes away.

Music at J’Ouvert

J’Ouvert is a celebration of Soca music. Revelers come to listen to the newsest soca tunes. Although you can play J’Ouvert with a DJ or a live band, purists won’t settle for anything other than a steelband.

J’Ouvert Bands

There are many well-organized J’Ouvert bands with clear headquarters or mas camps who offer live DJs or live music along with costumes and rolling bars. Just like the carnival, there are many J’ouvert bands to choose from. Some of the popular bands include Red Ants and Cocoa Devils. And just like playing mas with a carnival band, J’Ouvert bands can also be pretty crowded. However, playing J’Ouvert is often cheaper than playing mas. If you choose to play with a J’Ouvert band, you will be provided with a simple J’Ouvert costume, breakfast, alcohol and great music.

J’Ouvert Time

The festival starts well before dawn and peaks a few hours after sunrise. Start Time for J’Ouvert changes from year to year but it is usually around 3a.m. However, many bands take to the streets at the more traditional time of 4a.m. J’Ouvert lasts between 4 to 5 hours and it is usually over by 9am-10am in the morning with most people heading home to prepare for the carnival. Because J’Ouvert is often quite messy, many people give themselves enough time to clean up all the body paint and mud from their body.

J’Ouvert Costumes

J’Ouvert Costumes are not a necessity since the point of J’Ouver is to get down and dirty. but you can still purchase a costume for J’Ouvert. Unlike your costume for the Carnival, you don’t have to book your costume way in advance and costumes for J’Ouvert are usually much cheaper than costumes for the Carnival

Real J’Ouvert vs. Fake J’Ouvert

Many Trinidad locals make a distinction between real J’Ouvert and fake J’Ouvert. In short, if your band is not heading towards Independence Square in downtown Port of Spain, your not taking part in the real J’Ouvert. There are several advantages to the fake thing such as less crowds, greater safety and colder drinks. J’Ouvert purists will tell you that, for J’Ouvert to work its magical spritual renewal, you need to be in the wild and crazy crowds that converge on Independence Square.

Carrying on Bad on J’Ouvert Morning

J’Ouvert is a lot of fun. The reason why it is so much fun is that anything goes. Trinis will often refer to people attending J’Ouvert as “Carrying on Bad”, which is simply a Trini way of saying that they are doing whatever they want to do. J’Ouvert is simply sweet madness…

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. Jerry Alleyne-Nagee

    January 14, 2017 at 4:12 pm

    You’very just described J’Ouvert in Port of Spain. In San Fernando and other cities, traditional J’Ouvert is an occasion to dramatize via caricature events that occurred during the year. It is a focus on people who made the news in politics, social,cultural and religious events. It’s piccong dramatized, protests satirized, profound statements on serious and not so serious issues given a comic spin. People appreciate it’s subtlety, it’s double intent, the veneer glossing over that which might have been offensive. It’s a celebration of keen political and social insight immersed in our people’s penchant for wit and humor.

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Trinis refer to J’Ouvert as dutty mas because you will get dirty during J’Ouvert morning.

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