If youâve ever set foot in a Caribbean carnival, then youâve experienced the truest form of the regionâs spirit and soul. But if youâve never set foot in Grenada for Spicemas, then youâve never experienced Jab Jab, the most elemental form of Carnival bacchanalia that ever was.
Outsiders would be forgiven for drawing similarities across Caribbean carnivals: beautiful women, scanty costumes, hips gyrating to sounds of soca music, breeze blowing coconut trees in the background, rum. But Grenada, though it has all of that, claims a Carnival distinctly its own. One with a flavor not found in any other pot. Spicemas in Grenada is rootsyâitâs uncommercialized and full-blooded.
On the second Monday and Tuesday of August each year, the Spice Island, so named for its role as one of the worldâs top producers of nutmeg, gives itself over to the call of Carnival for the two official days of the festival, though the season, which really means the parties, begins weeks ahead of that.
From Pree Day, a soca show hosted by artist Talpree, to competitions for the best steel pan band at Panorama and the greatest costumed masqueraders named king and queen of carnival at Dimanche Gras, to bikini cruises and all-white attire parties and the street fete that sees revelers dancing and waving fluorescent wands for Monday Night Mas, the frenzied feting will call for a stamina the faint of heart will either have to adopt or stay home.
Spicemas culminates with Pretty Mas on the Tuesday, where fancy, feathered masqueraders will find themselves prancing around whatâs likely the most beautiful backdrop of all the Caribbean carnivals, the Carenage, Grenadaâs postcard picturesque harbor and waterfront in the islandâs capital of St. Georgeâs.
But itâs what happens in the darkness that gives Spicemas its flavor. Namely, Jab Jab Jâouvert.
In the wee hours of the morning on the Monday of the festival, masqueraders pour into…