2015 Miami Carnival – Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert

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Greetings peeps, Kermit D. Frog here bringing to you coverage of 2015 Miami Carnival from the Central Broward Regional Park, site of this morning’s J’Ouvert parade.   J’Ouvert in Miami is a fairly recent addition to the carnival scene and since I have heard very good things about it, this year I decided to see for myself what the hype was about.  I decided to play with Red Ants & Ice Box and when I arrived at the park around 9:15 a.m. I found myself in a long line of cars creeping into the $20 on-site parking.  It took around an hour to enter and park but once parked, I quickly made my way to the parade route to locate my band.

Central Broward Regional Park and Stadium is a large municipal park in Lauderhill, Florida, owned and operated by Broward County.  It has and continues to host a diverse selection of sporting events including soccer, baseball, Australian Rules football, rugby, and cricket.  Today however, it was hosting a different kind of sporting event and whereas the athletes taking part in these games do get very dirty and sweaty in the course of their activities, to the casual eye these participants might not appear to be in peak physical form but make no mistake peeps, J’Ouvert is no joke Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 95and if taken lightly it can put you on your back as some of my pictures will illustrate.  Basically the route was this: starting from the entrance gates, a roadway winds around the circumference of the park and the music trucks make their way one after the other around this roadway eventually returning to the starting point.  I am not sure exactly how long the parade route was but after meeting up with my band around 10:30 am it took around 4 hours to make an almost complete circuit.  Those 4 hours though were spent in the company of some of the duttiest, fittest, sexiest, most fun loving masqueraders that I have encountered outside of Trinidad carnival but I am jumping ahead so let me begin at the beginning.

By the time I reached the start of the parade route, several bands had already departed so after making sure that my band wasn’t still there, I set out along the route to find them and after passing through a few other groups I came upon the glorious mix of music and madness that was Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert.  The music truck was blasting out tunes which could be clearly heard and felt from afar while the drinks truck was doing brisk business supplying cold drinks to the thirsty masqueraders surrounding it.  After making a quick circle of the scene, I acquired a Cîroc and cranberry from one of the lovely ladies at the bar and I headed into the throng to get acquainted with my fellow dutty people.  In my opinion, as a form of mas, J’Ouvert is a very unique, powerful, and all embracing medium that fosters inclusion and participation much more that “pretty” mas does.  When I entered the melee behind the music truck, I hadn’t yet “officially” applied any paint/mud/powder to my person so, for the most part, Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 73my brightly colored official Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert t-shirt was still clean.  Naturally, this did not last very long and not primarily because of incidental contact with already “decorated” masqueraders because as I roamed through the band some masqueraders had gotten hold of squeeze bottles with paint and upon seeing me improperly attired in clean clothes, they helpfully and enthusiastically applied liberal amounts of paint to my person and indeed to anyone in my general vicinity.  “What a thoughtful bunch!” I mused!  “How in the world did they know that I was just wondering where I could find rivers of paint to apply to my body?”  Naturally I had to thank them for their service by taking their picture and pelting waist with them. I mean, anything less would be uncivilized.  Packets of powder were also being liberally deployed all around me and through the colored fog that enveloped the dancing masses you could clearly see that everyone was having a blast and this peeps, is J’Ouvert’s greatest attribute.

When you fully and truly embrace J’Ouvert, you undergo a transformation that encompasses not only your physical attributes but your inner self as well.  You cease to care as much about the external appearances of the people around you and you focus instead on their commonality of cause.  To the true J’Ouvert aficionado it matters little what you looked like before you covered yourself in mud/paint/powder/cocoa/whatever;  what really matters is the fact that you ARE covered in mud/paint/powder/cocoa/whatever and that fact engenders a pervasive unity and harmony that Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 219is as wondrous to behold as it is to be a part of.  Today, Red Ants & Ice Box management was using everything imaginable to completely cover all participants in something from small squeeze bottles of paint to large buckets of paint/oil and even to a powder power blaster!  Yes peeps, a power POWDER blaster.  You know the compressed air t-shirt guns that are frequently used in sporting events to shoot compacted t-shirts up into the crowd?  Well picture the same thing except that instead of loading it with a cylindrically packaged compressed t-shirt, the operator fills it with a cup or two of powder then when the trigger is pulled, BOOM, instant colorful cloud!  It was magnificent!

The paint and powder party had been maintaining at a slow and steady pace around the park and everyone was, to say the least, good and tipsy.  The midday sun was blazing down on us, a cool breeze was blowing, and the vibes were sweet sweet sweet when all of a sudden I heard a familiar voice booming across the microphone!  It was none Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 252other than the voice of Nuphoric and I realized that it was   ABOUT    TO    GO    DOWN! When this hype man (whose physical size in NO WAY reflects his stage presence) gets going, the fete goes from wild to insane quick fast in a hurry and so said, so done.  People lost their minds and started wining in all kinds of ways I have never seen before.  Peeps, I can’t properly describe this particular instance but one young lady literally started wining horizontally across a fellow!  Literally!  Imagine two people standing up wining normel with the woman in front and the man behind.  Now imagine that same scene with the man still upright but with the woman rotated counter-clockwise 90 degrees with both parties still wining.  It looked like some type of expert level yoga-soca pose and she handled it like a boss. Miami Carnival - Red Ants Jouvert 494 Strangely enough, the fellow didn’t seem very surprised while all of this was going on which leads me to believe that this was probably not the first time this has happened!  You remember my earlier point about highly trained J’Ouvert athletes?  Well this is exactly what I was talking about!  If an average couple tried this, somebody was going to end up in the First-Aid tent but these two pulled off this advanced move like they were dropping a tourist wine at a church social.  The rest of the afternoon passed in a blur of paint, powder, and prancing as we cavorted all the way around the park and eventually found ourselves back at the parade’s start at around 2:30 p.m.

My first Miami J’Ouvert was a fantastic experience and I would heartily recommend it to anyone looking to get dutty and have a great time.  Red Ants & Ice Box J’Ouvert was completely on point in all things starting with super easy costume pickup, continuing with great music and plentiful premium drinks, and culminating with lots and lots and lots of great vibes and fun people.  I can hardly wait to do it all again in 2016!

 

Enjoy the pics peeps, Kermit out!

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One day, this will all seem like a long time ago so savor the moment and remember that life is not a race but rather a stroll from the beach to the rumshop and back.

 

 

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