Pour some cocoa on me!

Trinidadians love to party..or as we say, ‘fete’..as in the French word for festival, celebration, or party. Like Lebanon, Trinidad has been influenced by a number of different cultures – Spanish, British, French, African, and Indian being but a few who have left their distinct mark on this country. These influences are truly what makes this island of only 1.3 million people  so incredibly unique! (You thought Lebanon was small? Trinidad is tiny!)

Take (one of the many) parties I went to this weekend for example – Cocoa J’ouvert. J’ouvert (pronounced ‘joo-vay’) is a street party where people spread paint, mud, oil, and cocoa on each other (sounds amazing right?!?) while dancing to Calypso and Soca (Trinidadian music). The party starts at around 2:00am/3:00am in the morning and lasts until about 9:00am! With peak party time being around dawn. (Madness, I know!) Usually, J’ouvert is only in February or March, as it signals the beginning of Carnival… But Trindadians love to party so much that they couldn’t wait..and decided to throw a J’ouvert in July party!

Beach J'ouvert


Trinidadian J'ouvert

Now that's what I'm talking about!

image credit

J’ouvert is celebrated on many islands in the Caribbean, including Trinidad and Tobago, Dominica, Saint Lucia, Anguilla, Antigua & Barbuda, Aruba, Barbados, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, St. Kitts and Nevis, Sint Maarten, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands. It’s also celebrated during New York City’s West Indian Day Parade held on Labor Day, Notting Hill Carnival in London, and Miami Carnival..in, you guessed it, Miami! New York City, London, and Miami all have significant Caribbean ex-pat communities. I used to go to Jouvert every year with my Trindadian/Jamaican friends in Miami.

Trinidad Carnival

J'ouvert fun.

 image credit

The term J’ouvert is a contraction of the French term “jour ouvert” meaning dawn/day break. (I know many of you reading this speak French, so bear with me on the translations here). Sources differ on the exact origin of Jouvert and Carnival..some say it was brought over by the French and others say it was brought over by African slaves. (I think it is a mixture of both!) But according to the Trinidad and Tobago Ministry of Tourism,

“Like the cosmopolitan mix of peoples and cultures that shaped the island, Trinidad’s Carnival has many influences. The Spanish and English colonial powers, French planters, African slaves, Indian indentured labourers, and the many other ethnic groups that settled here have all left an indelible mark on the festival.

In 1783 the French brought their culture, customs and Carnival, in the form of elaborate masquerade balls, to Trinidad along with African slaves. The period stretching between Christmas and the start of Lent was a time for feasting, fancy dress balls and celebration for both the French and British. Banned from the festivities, slaves in the barrack yards would hold their own celebrations mimicking their masters’ behaviour while incorporating rituals and folklore. Once slavery was abolished in 1838, the freed Africans took their Carnival to the streets and, as each new immigrant population entered Trinidad, a new flavour was added to the festivities. Today, our diverse culture has influenced the music, food and traditions of Carnival.

Trinidad Carnival

J'ouvert is only the beginning of Carnival..after J'ouvert, people put on beautiful costumes and parade through the streets of Port of Spain, Trinidad

image credit

Trinidad Carnival

Carnival beauties!

Each year at 4 am on Monday, Carnival begins under a cloak of darkness. Fuelled by exhilaration and the energetic rhythms of soca music, revellers take to the streets for the predawn party of J’Ouvert.

J’Ouvert (from the French ‘jour ouvert’ or ‘day open’) is almost ritualistic in its celebration of the darker elements of the island’s folklore and history. Bathed in chocolate, mud, oil and paint, bands of revellers depict devils, demons, monsters and imps. Choose your medium of expression; J’Ouvert is a time for loosening of inhibitions.”

So early Sunday morning (3:00am!) I headed to Cocoa J’ouvert with some friends of mine to lose our inhibitions!..I had gone out the night before until about 3:00am,,so I was exhauuuuusted! But in all of the years I have been coming to Trinidad, I have never gone to J’ouvert before and I thought that now was as good a time as any. We stayed until about 6:30am,..I just couldn’t keep my eyes open anymore. But the party was only just getting started! Some of our friends ended up stayed till 9:00am if you can believe it!  As I said, Trinis love to fete..

I know I’m taking a risk by showing you this side of my culture..you are probably going to think Trindadians are insane..But hey, this is Trindad! As my Dad put it so eloquently the other day, “Our culture is about drinking and partying!” lol. So, without futher ado, here are some photos from Cocoa J’ouvert!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa J'ouvert

Me getting cocoa-ed up!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa J'ouvert

attack of the cocoa!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa J'ouvert


Cocoa Devils Cocoa J'ouvert

Friends at J'ouvert!

Cocoa J'ouvert Cocoa Devils

Friends at J'ouvert!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa J'ouvert

I took a picture of this one lady who was drinking out of a pvc pipe she made into a cup! lol!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa Jouvert

Cocoa Jouvert!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa Jouvert


Cocoa J'ouvert

Love it!!!!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa Jouvert

The party was still going strong at 6:30 in the morning!

Cocoa Devils Cocoa Jouvert

Wining at J'ouvert! (Wining is Trinidadian slang for dancing)

And this was the last shot I took before heading back home! By this time, cocoa had gotten all in my camera, so all of my pics were coming out blurry!

Cocoa Girls Cocoa Jouvert

Last shot of the night/day

So, what do you think of J’ouvert?!?! 😀



Filed under Trinidad

34 responses to “Pour some cocoa on me!

  1. Like I said to you on twitter.. Wow. LoL

  2. Layal

    That is sooo cool! looks like a kesha video clip ! lol
    we should totally do that here in Lebanon!
    Thanks for sharing ! ^^

    • hahah Kesha video clip! lol Yes, I would love to throw this type of party in Lebanon..but do you think the Lebanese ppl (especially the women) would be up for getting all dirty?? haha

  3. Michael

    I live in Miami… and I can’t believe I missed Cocoa J’ouvert… I’ve actually never heard of it until this post, even though I love Caribbean music & culture…

    I want to be wining! 🙂

    • They have J’ouvert in Miami..but paint J’ouvert. I used to go all of the time! But Cocoa J’ouvert is definitely something special! Really glad t hear you like Caribbean music and culture. 🙂 How could you not? It’s all about drinking and partying! LOL.

    • Michael

      Miami Paint J’ouvert at Virginia Key is coming up this Saturday!

      I sent you an email about it to your gmail, not sure if you still check it – had a couple questions about it in there.

  4. Wow, looks like it was a lot of fun. We should try to get a similar party here, it would be amazing.

    I love your father’s definition of what Trinidadian culture entails- I think anyone would be jealous that it is a tradition to party and get drunk 😉 No excuses needed and the parents approve!

  5. I’m going to head out to Trinidad next time you guys are having this party ! “Trinidadi culture is about drinking and partying”.. no wonder you like Beirut so much ! 😛

    Really cool post Dani, as usual !

    • haha yes! I couldn’t believe my Dad said that..but it is the truth! And we definitely aren’t ashamed of it! Trinidadians are all about having a good time, and so am I! Fadi, we should do an exchange,,me in Sweden and you getting painted and all cocoa-ed up in Trinidad! That would make for interesting blog posts.. lol 😀

  6. Natasha

    This seems really fun Dani!

  7. But how could you last with cocoa all over you, its so sticky, I once had a chocholate body wrap treatment, you just wanna wash it (or lick it) right off. Thank you for sharing your pics with us, you’re so brave Dani!

    • Honestly, I’m still trying to get it out of my hair! haha..yes, it’s quite messy..but I’ve never done it before in my life, and I really had an amazing time 🙂 Wish you were here so I could cocoa you up! And get it all in your hair! 🙂 Glad ur liking the photos!

  8. Rob

    looks like tons of fun!

  9. That is so cool!!
    It seems you r really enjoying your time!!

  10. Ali El Dali

    This brings back memories of the Carnavals I used to spend back in Venezuela. It almost the same thing.

    See how awesome and crazy we are on that side of the world!?
    We rock, nena!!! Hope you’re having a blast!

  11. Youssef Chaker

    so here’s what i think, hold on tight because this ride is going wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy off before it comes back on track…

    Countries that were colonized by the French got the elitism and the shtick up their ass (yes, I’m talking to you Lebanon!). And along with France itself, these countries sat down idle, happy to reminisce about the glory days, as everything fell to pieces around them. Are we over the French revolution and Beirut of the 70s yet?

    Those who were colonized by the Brits got some slavery with a hint of discrimination and massacres. BUT, turned it around to enjoy their afternoon tea and a bit of prosperity. India has some things going for it. Bollywood brings in more money with one movie than Hollywood does all year long. They dominate the IT sector worldwide and the medical sector in the US. They have their problems, but who doesn’t, that’s going to be true for everyone I mention. India is not the only example, no matter what you think about the Saudis, they’re doing well for themselves, same goes for the Emaraties and so on (and yes, I know about the oil but there are French colonies rich in oil who aren’t doing so well right now: Syria and Libya to name a couple of examples).

    Let’s skip whatever Dutch colonies there were, not really worth the mention in this comment…

    Then we get to those countries that were colonized by the Spaniards or the Portuguese. Brazil is one notable country which right now is considered one of the top economies of the world, so powerful that it required a very strong political push by the IMF to push Brazil out from buying Portugal’s debts (the irony!). I would go on to talk about all the states that really matter in the US for example and point out that they were either bought or acquired through force from the Mexicans (ehem ehem: California, Florida and Texas), but let’s stick to the country level. Looking at most of these places you notice that they all have something in common, and that’s the group spirit and togetherness that is usually shown in the form of festivals and parties. Mention Brazil and people think of one think: Carnival. Would you think of Carnival if I mentioned India? Nope… Did you know they have one? Most probably not! (oh, and this is for the common person, not you Dani, you probably knew that…) Mention Mexico, Argentina, Haiti, TNT, Columbia, Cuba, etc… and you immediately think of dance (like the Salsa), which is one of the best forms of bringing one person together with another (sometimes random or a stranger) in an act that is magnificent (and yes, that goes for dirty dancing as well :P).

    Now put all of that together, add the African culture (which is like saying you’re adding jalapenos, aka fire, to a meal) and well, you get the combustion and insanity that we see in these pictures. I’ll take that over speaking three languages fluently any day of the week!

    (PS: this comment was about to be longer but got side tracked by a conversation from a female friend about her eminent engagement proposal!)

    • Leave it to you to bring a totally different perspective to this post! So, if I’m to understand correctly, and really drill your comment down:

      Dirty Dancing = Economic Prosperity?


  12. Youssef Chaker

    pretty much, see the formula is

    dirty dancing => [keeping it PG] => relaxed muscles => happiness and more relaxed way of dealing with stuff and other people => better human relations => human level prosperity => economic prosperity

    now, it’s a one way implication. not sure about the other way around unfortunately. so it’s a mathematical equality.

  13. Ranelle

    I’m loving all the non-trini comments!! LOL

  14. Zouzeta

    Sweet 🙂 i loveee….

  15. Mherreria

    Sticky fun!!

  16. Leyla

    All I could focus on was the picture of the guy with madness written under it. Just kidding. Well, not really 😛

  17. Pingback: My first Rapso experience | This is Trinidad

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