Dutch St Maarten Jouvert, 2011. What a difference digital cameras make! This Video was shot jouvert morning with just an ordinary JVC camera, since we’ve upgraded to Nikon and Sony Digital.
Dutch St Maarten jouvert, is a party marathon only the strongest can survive. As usual, there is a marked difference between the Dutch Jouvert and the French St Martin jouvert.
Dutch St Maarten Jouvert begins at the Carnival Village in Philipsburg, now also called the “Festival Village”. One the eve of jouvert, hundreds attend the Calypso final at the village, a competition that starts at around 8pm, and by 2-3 am, the results are called, and the winners are named.
At this time, the bands and trucks start to show up at the village. These are no ordinary trucks, but huge flat semi trailers carrying thousands of pounds in sound equipment, musical inStruments….. and of course the singers and bands.
These semi trucks are virtual moving stages, or platforms. Jouvert is a dance marathon, that moves continuously from the village, to around the Great Salt Pond, and then back to the village.
The event usually starts at 4 am, and continues until a complete circle around the pond has been made. At around 11am to 12 noon, is when the circle is completed, and all of the revellers are back to their start point at the village gates.
At approx. 3-4 am when the trucks show up at the village, people are just starting to stream out of the village, from the show- ready to jouvert.
Everyone has their favorite ‘truck’ or band, and this is usually tied in to the various districts. The bands are usually based in a district, and the revellers from those districts are more likely to ‘jam’ behind their bands.
The No Limit Band, a “Bush Road” band is very popular for it’s style of ‘Jump Up’ music or ‘chunes’. Therefore they already have people lined up for them, even before the event starts.
The Youth Wave Band which comes over from French St Martin, is hugely popular during the Dutch Jouvert events. They have a large Dutch St Maarten, but they also have French St Martin revellers who follow them over the border. This cross-border popularity has made the YouthWave band one of the most popular in St Maarten/St Martin for decades, but they wouldn’t have an audience if their music wasn’t the best, and their performances on the road weren’t strong enough, to keep the people ‘jumping’.
The trucks (band) with the largest crowd behind them dancing at the end of the event- are considered the “Road March” winners.
The Road March Winners however need more than the largest crowd, they also have to keep their revellers in a frenzy from start to finish.
Very few videographers dare go into a jouvert crowd in the middle of a frenzy…………… But I certainly do.
You risk damaging equipment, getting knocked around, etc etc, and it’s all happened before.
Now that the videos are very popular on Youtube, people are more understanding, and respectful of the people shooting the videos for Youtube etc.
Jouvert is the one event in St Maarten, when almost ANYTHING goes, anything except for NUDITY. You have to wear some semblance of clothing, and many show up in lingerie, negligees, and barely there underwear. Men dress like women, and women assume masculine roles.
Many are smart enough to wear masks during their Jouvert adventures- others simply don’t care.
There is a large police presence during Dutch Sint Maarten Jouvert, because people will get out of hand when they are allowed to drink as much as they want for free- there are moving trucks supplying free rum and beer, readily.
The teenagers tell their parents that they are staying at a friends house, and they all sneak out to Jouvert together. The parents themselves have snuck out, and are also participating in jouvert, but the crowds are so massive, that everyone knows that the odds of running into another family member can be slim.
The Jouvert ‘Runaways’ are the young males and females who have snuck out in order to watch or take part in the taboo festivities.
There are also Trucks/Bands from other islands who participate in the festivities, that are hugely popular in multi- ethnic country like Dutch St Maarten.
Xplosion and WCK from Dominica are hugely popular in St Maarten, where there is a large Dominican and Lucian population, and a love and appreciation of their “Bouyan” music.
Small Axe Band, flies in from St Kitts and the Kittitians love it. There are also bands from Aruba and Curacao, and other popular Caribbean Bands and artist, who’s music is big or being played often at the time, also make their appearances.
At every Jouvert there is one song that is the ‘chune’ of that year, the ‘chune’ does not even have to be local. In 2014, on all the Caribbean islands the ‘chune’ was “Rolly Polly” also called “I Want a Fat Girl”, an ode to big ladies everywhere.
Even rival bands are sometimes forced to play their competitions music or ‘chunes’ just to keep the people ‘jumping’.
Many visitors and newbies to the island, quickly figure out that anyone can participate in Jouvert without a second glance. Once the liquor kicks many tourist and visitors end up in the ‘bachannal’ dancing their way around the pond, usually lightly or heavily ‘buzzed’ by the massive amount of free liquor provided.
One problem during Jouvert, is NOT the abundance of rum, but the abundance of people drinking rum, who are not used to it, who can’t handle it.
EMT’s and Medical Support staff along with the police are also out in force to deal with the occasional ‘dehydration’, alcohol poisoning or whatever else that happens when you allow thousands of people to get drunk for free together, while free entertainment is provided, and drunken debauchery is encouraged.
Click back for Part 2, Dutch St Maarten Jouvert, where there will be lots of photos, more videos and more explanations to the spectacle that we can only describe as Dutch Sint Maarten Jouvert- uncensored!