I have decided to compose a super basic list of terms for newbies planning to attend Carnival or Caribana. You will hear these terms your entire visit and more, so here’s a mini dictionary guide to get you ready:
MAS: (Short for masquerade)
Costumed dancers are called mas players. Hence, those that are in the parade say they are (playing mas) “play ah mas”
FETE: (French for Festival).
Fetes are just a host of parties, usually with performing artist, that happen days before (and after) the parade.
J’OUVERT: (a large paint party).
J’ouvert (Jou-vay) usually happens the night before carnival as well as on the road. If you ever plan on participating, it’s common to wear all white and something you’ll probably never wear again. If you partied right, it’s guaranteed you will leave drenched in mud, oil, baby powder, and different colored paint.
For carnival in Atlanta, I had to provide my own paint and baby powder, so look into your location to see if you may need to bring your own. It’s an experience you should definitely add to your bucket list.
THE ROAD: (parade route)
The parade is known as the road. You will see a lot of post saying “meet me on di road”.
This is the hashtag you will see a lot. It is basically saying if you are not a masquerader please do not come in the parade route. Us masqueraders have spent a lot of money and we want to show it off without intruders coming into our sections.
FRONT LINE: Front line costumes are more extravagant than back line. They often come with bigger feathers; more jewels on the costume, and larger attachment pieces (usually on arms or legs).
ULTRA FRONT LINE: The best of the best with even larger feathers and way more jewels.
BACK LINE: For those playing mas, the backline costumes usually have less. These costumes allow more mobility on the road, so sometimes less means more.
HOT SHORTS: (booty shorts)
Most costumes come with the regular bikini cut swim bottoms, but hot shorts are just “the boy shorts” option
BOA: the feather pieces that attach to the back of your bikini bottoms.
BAND LAUNCH: (costume release)
Each band in the parade has a designated location where they will have a fashion show to model the new costumes being released.
It is sooooo hard choosing a costume, and what makes it harder is the fact that some sections sell out before other bands even launch. In my experience, if you love it, buy it ASAP.