As a writer and photographer I travel between my life in Toronto, my life in Antigua, and anywhere else my wanderings may take me ... writing my books and enjoying local arts and adventures along the way.

Blue Devils Bring J'ouvert Morning Upon Antigua

My J’ouvert morning started with watching attendance slowly gather in the fenced in area that The Source Blue Devils had taken over as their party grounds. The “kit” purchased with the price of admission included a blue devil’s t-shirt, a reveller’s whistle, and an armband that got party goers free drinks and a warm welcome in the moving party that would follow the rumbling music truck through the streets of St. John’s and end up near the Recreation Grounds stadium by morning.
There was only one driver of the music truck that night, but he was not the one driving the procession. The MC for the night was a man who goes by the stage name of Ibis. He started to show his mastery of the crowd from the time he called everyone to assemble to the truck. Now I can tell you from observation that organizing people with drinks in their hands is like herding cats. Each one of them wants to finish their drink, or they see so and so that they want to talk to, or they’re just not ready to move yet. Moving the crowd was a little like moving something thick like honey. You move too fast and you leave it all behind. Ibis seemed to instinctively know the momentum at which the crowd could be moved without thinning it out so much that the party evaporated. He guided the truck’s pace forward so that the slow procession not only moved, but also gained energy.
Ibis was bombastic from the beginning, so it wasn’t readily apparent to me that it was even possible for him to amp up the energy level of the crowd more than he did when the truck first rolled off. Now I’m not about to drop names in comparison like that of the late James Brown who was called the “hardest working man in show business”. But if a man ever truly “gave it all up” on stage in the pursuit of letting a crowd enjoy themselves Ibis certainly did so. Putting words to song, rhyme, even military style command; he found ways to move them. Suddenly lying face down or on his back to dodge overhead power-lines, his voice never wavered but only gained strength. The crowd must have known they were witnessing something special, because when he called out for “my Antiguan people” there were few who did not respond.
During the night I alternately took photos on the truck and made my way through the crowd taking pictures. At the end of the night when my camera battery died I shook his hand in thanks and made my way home well satified that I had seen a true performer giving an honest no-holds barred performance.
The images are below. Click on “View with PicLens” to view the images as a slideshow.

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