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Dem Live A Foreign Vol. 6 - Getting Ready for Carnival/Jouvert - Part 2

Updated: May 21

J’ouvert means the opening of the morning; and we celebrate the opening of Carnival in honour of our Ancestors remembering their shackles of slavery and oppression..

J’ouvert is Freedom, J’ouvert is Street Theatre so my favourite Ole Mas Character is the notorious Blue Devil and one on my bucket list I have to play that mas one day! So these fiendish blue devils are covered from head to foot in blue paint; they colour their tongues red, and adorn large blue devil horns. They are troublesome, tormenting and at times their demonic movements are bloody scary!. The only way to stop them tormenting the hell out of you in a funny and harmless way is to give them money to ‘Pay the Devil’; depicting the evil our Ancestors encountered during slavery, which is still significant today in relation to racism and the prejudices people of colour still experience. My son was always fascinated by them as a child, he would look to ‘Pay the Devil’ at every opportunity and was not scared in the slightest, he loved J’ouvert.

My Carnival history has been a long one, playing mas in Ebony Mas Band from the age of 5 back in 1973 so I have witnessed the sheer phenomenal growth of Notting Hill Carnival and I have always supported the Carnival movement. During my years in mas bands I experienced my family breaking away from Ebony Mas Band to form Design In Mind Mas Band back in 1981 a highly successful band with competition winning costumes. Design In Mind later evolved into a fun mas band with great costumes and the best kicking music on the road. We danced our last carnival in 2004.

However, my Carnival journey didn’t end there. In 2005 my friends and I launched CDJAM, a J'ouvert Mud Band. As individuals each one of us had played active roles in the customs of Carnival in the UK and Trinidad either in costume production, as masqueraders or performing in Steel Pan Orchestras. We felt compelled to create CDJAM Mud Band inspired by the rich and liberating history of J’ouvert plus with our combined experiences it simply felt like a natural progression. Each band member paid for our legendary mud, breakfast, a complimentary rum punch and our signature CDJAM boiler suit which they still wear today. CDJAM was a wonderful success and proved that there was a huge demand for J’ouvert in London; it is free and open to all from 6am outside Sainsbury’s on Ladbroke Grove every Carnival Sunday morning. I would advise everyone to experience it at least once!

Look out for part 3 coming tomorrow!

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