In 2019. I premiered a documentary about Juvé Nite at the Museum of African Diaspora in San Francisco. Now you can view it online for the first time.
Growing up all I knew about the Labor Day parade was it marketed the end of the summer. School started the week after the parade and the joys of freedom were over.
People couldn’t wait for the Parade to roll around. Mas Camps started preparing their costumes while steel pan bands could be heard through out the day and night. But for many the real highlight of the festive period was Jouvert Night.
As we understood jouvert was the dark parade. It took place the night before carnival and lasted all the way until sunrise.
I grew up on Church ave in East Flatbush Brooklyn, NY. This street is also called Bob Marley Blvd. So we were basically in the heart of the Caribbean community of Brooklyn.
People came from all around the world to take part in Jouvert night. Part of this night involved people walking around hopping from party to party until the parade the next day. My street would be ram packed with double parked cars and heavy bass from all corners of the block. Playing all types of music from the diaspora but more specifically Soca.
During Jouvert night we saw people in scary masks, horns and pitch forks with Chains around their necks throwing paint on onlookers. These people were called Jab Jab’s. Respected elders had more elaborate themes and story lines that played out in the streets. One year I remember a man acting as if he was possessed while other “jab jab’s” had chains around his legs and neck.
Back then we didn’t look too deep into these things, but as I grew I found this symbolism very intriguing.
Why have black molasses covering their whole body? Why walk around on stilts? Why were these god fearing people, many of them Christians partaking in what could be seen as an act of blasphemy?
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