Thursday, 3 September 2015

September 3rd: Notting Hill Carnival - J'ouvert

My final post about Notting Hill Carnival comes from the early start on Sunday morning when I woke up at 5am to get over to Ladbroke Grove for the "J'ouvert" opening ceremony which runs from 6-9am.  This is the traditional sunrise start of smearing yourself with mud or paint to symbolise the oil used as camouflage from civil disturbances in Trinidad, and in remembrance of the emancipation from slavery.  Therefore a "JabJab" Carnival character is full body makeup of slick black paint, horn headwear and chains wrapped around, trailing down.  That is the most classic aesthetic but has morphed into any variation of covering yourself in pigment and has become a multi-colour explosion of primary and pastel splashes.  As soon as I cycled in someone asked me why I was so clean, then doused me with blue poster paint, shortly followed by someone else grabbing my face and hair with a hand of black tar-like liquid.  That was my initiation.  A few cloud bombs of talcum powder later and I made a mental note of all the other girls outfits of shower caps and paper boiler suits.  This was my favourite part of the whole Carnival this year because Ive never done it before and like all London early starts, it felt like a special pocket of time, sacred for only those awake to see it.  Soon the roads would be filled like crushed sardines but for a few hours it was just ours, and a long tarmac canvas to Jackson Pollock our way along.  Although I was totally inappropriately and naively dressed in my Keith Haring print dancing attire, I think Keith would have been pleased.

No comments: