And all this time I was under the impression that NYC didn’t have a Carnaval. I was so wrong.
J’ouvert is the pre-labor day parade party that starts late Sunday night and goes into labor day. Crowds of people walk towards Eastern Parkway for their space at The West Indian day parade to celebrate a diverse culture of mostly English/Creole/Patois speaking people from Trinidad & Tobago, Haiti, Guyana, Barbados and Jamaica. And expanding that selection to include another Caribbean island was me, the Puerto Rican 🙂
The Caribbean and South American countries that celebrate Carnaval go HAM with usually week long celebrations, much music and dancing, some food, a “likkle” drink and no sleep. But this is New York, and they hate when we have too much fun so we’re limited to 24hrs of freedom. NYC freedom.
I’ve never seen so many cops in one space at the same time, but everywhere you turned there they were, and so was everyone with drinks in their cup, and a smoke in their hand. Music was played louder and longer than ever; no complaints, just dance. And everybody’s feelin’ good on these concrete streets.
The bigger crowds don’t start walking until about 3am and they’re accompanied by music the whole way. It’s a moving block party where everyone is dancing along, and throwing paint, powder and ass everywhere.
I specifically remember a moment of bliss…
An upbeat, dance song was on and I immediately began jumping up and down with the rest of the crowd. Of course I had to know I’d be pursued like fresh meat, but I couldn’t help it. When the first painted guy came over wanting to aggresively get inappropriately close, we screamed and laughed and jumped away only to be trapped by two guys making a london bridge. I dodged it by running straight through, and looked behind me to find my friend escaping through the same route. Everything about it was perfect, and I can’t explain why. But it was. And then I continued dancing and laughing, and I was completely happy in that moment.
When one party crashed directly into another, we figured there’d be beef so we decided to hold off, smoke on the side street and then walk back, and within 5minutes of leaving we saw tons of cop cars blaring sirens and lights towards the direction we’d just come from. Hours later news articles confirmed our suspicions of a shooting. Thankfully we dodged that, too.
And that’s my only beef. J’ouvert is so good! It’s amazing that we’re allowed the opportunity to freely party that hard in the street, but that “bust shots” life gives it a bad light. People are scared to participate, and to get to know the culture. And I can’t even blame them! People die! And for that New York can never get the title for best Carnaval in America.
But I’m still gon’ always be ’bout that Brooklyn ❤