The asphalt was the stage, but revellers mashed it up, shelled it down and if it was possible, they would have “tun it over” for J’Ouvert celebrations in San Fernando.
The weather was overcast, the bands were large and the jumbie-like, provocative collaboration of Iwer George and Kees’ Stage Gone Bad caused all manner of madness.
From splitting on the road to balancing on one’s head, the Conch Shell of Machel Montano, Skinny Fabulous and Iwer George just added fuel to the fire. The drinks trucks were constantly busy, so too were the “Wee Wee” vehicles.
At 4.37 am, San Fernando Mayor Junia Regrello declared the start of J’Ouvert, saying that he was proud of the band leaders and business community who bonded to present this year’s celebration. He was also pleased with the return of the bands to High Street after a few years absence. However, the water, paint and mud created a slippery surface and a few people went sliding down.
By 4.50 am, the band Shut Up and Wine & House of Jacqui chipped across the judging point leisurely. Prestige J’Ouvert Band followed with their presentation of Sunshine Village, but with the coolness of the morning, the wet fete they created on the road was a bit too chilly for their revellers, many of whom ran from the water.
But 40 minutes later, the red and white striped army of Limerz Crew signalled what was to come.
Taking centre stage to Teddy Rhymez and Machel Montano’s Stink Behaviour, they got the ball rolling with a vibrant street party and a bit of creativity and colour. While many bands focused on the party experience and merely portrayed plain T-Shirts and paint, others like A&K Fashion Labs and last year’s J’Ouvert winners Poudre J’Ouvert threw down the gauntlet. Not only did their colours, powder and paint create a spectacle on the road, their display of ecstasy at sweet mas really brought out the Carnival spirits.
Even some of the marshals who ushered along the band were covered in paint and powder.
There were six fewer bands than 2019, most portraying modern-day costumes. The first taste of traditional J’Ouvert came from Radioactive with their presentation of Mud In uh Mud.
With the traditional aspect of the J’Ouvert dying in San Fernando, Val Ramsingh and Blue Boys did not disappoint those seeking humour. Their presentation of Ah Blu With Poly Ma was a satirical display of the Government’s much-debated roll out of the new polymer $100 note and its effects, including the investigation into a millionaire pastor.
The sweet sound of the steel pan was most present, with the youths of Pan Elders, Hatters and Old Tech Steel Orchestra thrilling with the top soca hits of 2020.
With thousands of Venezuelans given the all-clear to stay in T&T after last year’s amnesty, they were thrilled to be among the bands and the spectators.