The Caribbean Student Association honors tradition with J’ouvert

by AMBER EBANKS

At the University of Maryland, the Caribbean Student Association holds an annual J’ouvert on McKeldin Mall as a celebration of the history of Caribbean people. For the first time, J’ouvert will be held on two days. On April 10th, students can attend a glow in the dark party with UV paint and dance with traditional colored powder the following day.

Nandi McCammon, a senior family science major, is serving her second term as president of the Caribbean Students Association. McCammon said that one of the reasons there will be two J’ouverts is because this will be the second annual J’ouvert.

“It may have been difficult to peak interests so we added a second J’ouvert to keep it interesting for regulars.”

This year’s J’ouvert will also feature different DJs at each celebration. McCammon wanted two different DJs to show the diversity in their playing styles, with one hailing from St. Lucia and the other from Trinidad.

“At Caribbean celebrations the person who controls the music controls the flow,” said McCammon. “The music is a vital and intricate part to the celebration, after all what is a celebration without music.”

J’ouvert is a large street party during Carnival in the eastern Caribbean region. J’ouvert is celebrated on many islands, including Trinidad and Tobago. J’ouvert has also become a main staple of New York City’s West Indian Day Parade. In most Caribbean countries, J’ouvert begins at nighttime and carries onto after sunrise the following day. During the festival, many soca bands and dancers provide the music and entertainment.

Alex Grillo, junior psychology major, is attending J’ouvert for the cultural experience.

“J’ouvert is a great time to unwind because of the change in seasons and because the weather is about to be very nice so it is a chance to be a in a party environment with a lot of people who are all there to have fun while having a wonderful cultural experience. It is a very outside the box concept because you have a chance to party and have fun as you usually would, but it is outside and it involves paint.”

The original concept known as Carnival was introduced to Trinidad by French settlers in 1783. During the 1700s, slaves were banned from the higher-class events of the French so they would have their own carnivals. The celebration of J’ouvert aligns with the emancipation from slavery in 1838. In many modern versions of J’ouvert, participants use paint or colored powder to throw on each other while dancing. During the civil disturbances in Trinidad, people would cover themselves to avoid being recognized.

Aaron Stanley, a sophomore Mathematics major, will be attending the celebration on Friday.

“I went last year and it was the best party I went to last semester,” said Stanley. “I learned a lot about the Caribbean dance culture and it intrigued me so I want to experience it again.”