Mocking Slave Owners and Celebrating Freedom

Take in the subversive beauty of J’ouvert, a Caribbean street party in Brooklyn. Revelers go all out.
A queen with devil horns, dressed in a rainbow of satin and shimmering gold tulle, sat on a throne along Brooklyn’s Empire Boulevard. Soon, Karen Herbert, 50, would return to being a retired company supervisor. But on J’ouvert, the daybreak celebration of Caribbean culture traditionally held in Brooklyn before the West Indian American Day Parade, “I am always a queen,” Ms. Herbert declared.The roots of J’ouvert lie in mocking slave owners and celebrating emancipation in the Caribbean. Monday’s event showed how the contemporary street-party version of the holiday retains a subversive, liberating edge. Some revelers, completely covered in motor oil, came to shine. Others came to wine. For the uninitiated, wining is a butt-shaking, pelvis-rubbing Caribbean dance. “It’s like one step away from sex,” said Molli Piitcha, 29. [More]