Carnival: my first “Jump Up” experience

Évelyne Chaville: "I just saw young people from all walks of life and some not-so-young people who were having fun in a good atmosphere" - Photo: É. Chaville

Jump Up 7

This Saturday, February 3, 2018 around 6:30 am in Pointe-à-Pitre, a sound system, voices and scooters caught my attention. It was a carnival parade but it was not on the calendar of events planned by the organizers. I went out of my house in a hurry hoping to just make a video. I saw arriving in front of and behind the van which carried the decibels maybe 300 or 500 people, in any case several hundred carnival lovers covered with black syrup made from sugarcane who were dancing to the rhythm of jump-up, bouyon, soca. The majority of the participants wore casual or light clothing. I asked several of them what was the name of this band, they told me that it was not a band but people who gathered to party… By curiosity, I decided to follow them on the Place de la Victoire, their next stop. I planned to stay away to take some pictures but finally, I decided to join the group to live from inside the “jump up” atmosphere, this atmosphere which is so often criticized. Indeed, about 20 years ago, the “jump up floats”, very popular with the citizens of the island of Dominica in Guadeloupe which attracted large crowds at nightfall, was banned in Carnival in Pointe-à-Pitre because of acts of violence… Maybe because of that ban o this bad reputation some participants wore masks or had their faces hidden with a T-shirt… That morning, I did not see any fight, I did not feel any tension on the Place de la Victoire. I just saw young people from all walks of life and some not-so-young people who were having fun in a good atmosphere. I could take my photos and shoot my videos without any problem. However, some people who drove by there or did their shopping in the market of La Darse thought that certain clothes were very provocative, others found this dance that simulates a sexual relationship totally shocking… When you already saw other carnivals in the English-speaking Caribbean, you admit more easily that this is the culture of the other…

Around 7:10 am, the “jump up van” left in music the Place de la Victoire with the carnival lovers after it, 5 minutes later, I saw a national police car come through there. For my part, I returned home with the satisfaction of having participated in my first “jump up” even if I did not have a costume and I did not dance.