Heavy gray rain clouds opened up Thursday morning along the 2018 J’ouvert route, but in addition to adding a slight chill to the air, the downpour appeared to energize this year’s throng of revelers, who had been feting since 4 a.m.
As usual, the four or so main J’ouvert troupes lined up near Addelita Cancryn Junior High School while it was still dark, and while the music was blasting, participants lined up for a quick breakfast and the first of many rounds of drinks. Streetlights brightened the sky overhead and as the trucks drove eastward toward the Village, hot air emanated from the back ends of the trolleys and upward from the thick crowd of bodies dancing up the street.
The clouds burst around 6 a.m., just as the sky started to lighten, and many felt relief in being able to finally cool down.
“I think it was just what everyone needed, and a little symbolic of all that we have been through over the past few months,” said Donna Frett-Gregory, whose 2018 Senate campaign team was camped out near Pizza Hut on Waterfront to distribute some much needed towels. “After two category five storms, today – rain and all – was truly a testament to the resiliency and strength of the people of the Virgin Islands and it was wonderful to see all the enthusiasm and how much everyone was enjoying the event.”
In past years, J’ouvert has lasted well into mid-morning, the route dotted by troupes and a handful of band trucks pumping music from behind. This year, after the storms, no one knew what to expect and while many regulars said they still had a great time, more than a handful of newcomers said the event this year more than met expectations.
“It was just amazing,” first-timers Michelle Riggle and Margo Lynch said. “The energy was high, the music was great, but more than anything, the camaraderie is what made the morning so special.”
Added Riggle, “I loved looking around and seeing so many friends. Some I’ve seen since September, but others I haven’t, and with all that we’ve been through as a community, it was wonderful having an opportunity to be together again in a joyful space.”
Lynch and Riggle joined the Press Play Foam Fete troupe this year, led by former J’ouvertnation regular Dimitri “DJ Cypha” James. After the hurricanes, and as Carnival was being organized, Cypha said he hadn’t been contacted as he had in years before by a troupe, so he decided to form his own alongside longtime friends such as Sean Georges.
“And I think it’s going to become an annual thing,” James said afterward, as he unpacked his trolley at Yacht Haven Grande. Along the route, Cypha was joined by R. City’s own deejay Deli Banger and a few others, who delivered a blend of calypso, soca and even remixed pop songs (like Katy Perry’s “Firework.”)
“I’m really excited to have had the opportunity to try something new,” he said. “Like anything, there were so many challenges, trials and tribulations along the way, but that’s what this year has been about: getting through it and emerging strong in the end.”