New Music: Nailah Blackman- Dame Lorraine (Soca 2018)

The word “Jamette” comes from the French word “diametre” and this referred to the class of people below the diameter of respectability or the underworld.  Essentially, this referred to the individuals who were part of the urban working class who lived in the barrack ranges of Port of Spain. In a broader context it also included all those who participated in Carnival celebrations. A description of the Jamettes can be found in The San Fernando Gazette of 1871,

“… hordes of men and women, youthful in years but mature in every vice that perverts and degrades humanity, who dwell together in all the rude licentiousness of barbarian life: men without aim, without occupation and without any recognised mode of existence – women, wanton, perverse and depraved beyond expression.”    

These individuals however, were to be the main participants in Carnival by the 1860s as the white elite removed themselves from the celebrations. Even though they removed themselves from these celebrations this did not mean that they did not object to what became known as the Jamette Carnival.


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