J'ouvert is when the early birds catch the worm in Carnival terms and call in the dawn with the cry of a Conch shell. I thought it was the beginning of the day, starting at 6am but now realise that it is a continuation from the overnight celebrations after the steel pan contest "Panorama". Infact the Ebony Steel Pan band lead the procession of paint assassins like the Pied Piper along the route of Portabello Road. This year I was well equipped for the crossfire of gunge and glitter with an industrial strength boilersuit that looked like I was going into a chemical testing zone. Witnessing an army of psychedelically clad pranksters in clouds of white talc is a surreal sight at sunrise. But that's why its one of my favourite parts of the weekend and why I happily lose sleep to absorb as much of the fun as possible. It only comes once a year!
Read more on the tradition in my archive posts here .