Even couples go to a Caribbean carnival together. Check out these couples that talk about how they navigate the carnival experience together.

Setting expectations and the spirit of Carnival.

The w(h)ine: a dance stemming from ancestral fertility dance that you will commonly see at Caribbean carnival and fetes. The energy of the festivities can be viewed as (overly) sexual if you have not researched, or you are outside a West Indian upbringing. 

The spirit of carnival is freedom of expression, joy, and sharing the experience.  And while many people would agree, people still have boundaries that should be honored. And make no mistake, there are people OF the culture that have their own limits and take on these festivities with rules of engagement (ROE).   And if you are in a relationship with someone you are taking with you to carnival, it is key to have a mutual discussion beforehand. 

Communication is key.

In my relationship, Im a huge communicator and I am big on setting mutable boundaries, even at Carnival.  When I approached him on the subject, he was actually very shocked at my line of questioning . But he kept very simple: “No jealousy stuff.”  Okay, well what does that mean?  How long do you dance with someone? Is there anything that is off limits? (Juking, getting picked up, wheel-barrowing, etc).  And after many questions, we both realized that there are some things we should actually discuss before setting out to Carnival.  I was genuinely glad that we had that discussion before hand!

Questions to ask...

Below is a list of questions developed from a conversation I had with my significant other about going to carnival together.   If you are seasoned feteran you may find this not necessary for you, or discover that you indeed have some things to share with your partner.  And if you and/or your significant other is new to fetes, this may be helpful to you too.

  1. What would make you uncomfortable if I danced with someone else?
  2. What do you feel would not be appropriate for us to do with other people?
  3. What would make you feel uncomfortable about being touched by another person?
  4. How will we communicate with each other if one of us becomes uncomfortable?

Couples that go to Caribbean Carnival together

couple at caribbean carnival fete
Couple at Caribbean Carnival

About 1 1/2 years into the relationship and there was never any rules set or discussed, we met in party/fetting mode and it was some type of unspoken agreement that dancing with others is ok, fun, and part of the scene. I speak for myself when I say I'm not the jealous nor possessive type of partner, where I as well would like to wine up on male or female and at the end of the day we accomplish the purpose of the outing, which is to have fun and be free!!!

couple at caribbean carnival jouvert
Couple at Caribbean Carnival

Ok so to be honest, we’re here struggling to find an answer lol. We’ve been together for over 10yrs and we partied together all those years and never discussed “rules”. There was always some sort of common understanding/respect for each other. For example you won’t see my husband stabbing out someone on the ground 🥴 He was never that type of feter, so I never had to say “hey please don’t do xyz at fetes”. And the same goes for me, we take our lil whine and move on, nothing dramatic or over-sexual. Apart from the whining part, we generally stay near each other. We usually pick a truck/ section of the fete to go to in case we get separated. If we go with a group then sometimes we may be apart for a while.

couple at caribbean carnival fete
Couple at Caribbean Carnival

We actually don't have any specific rules (that we have ever had to discuss). We have been together for more than 10 years now and discovered our love for Soca and Carnival together. I think general rules of courtesy apply at Carnival as they would elsewhere. But in terms of dancing with others, etc. no rules and I wouldn't think they would make sense either. Because Carnival is about freeing up and celebrating not thinking about rules. If a person and their partner are truly for each other and in tune nobody will do stuff that will offend the other naturally.

couple at caribbean carnival jouvert
Couple at Caribbean Carnival

I wouldn't so much call it rules per say but more of a respect of each other's cultural beliefs and comfort levels. I will not allow any man to dance on me out of respect to my husband and he does the same when it comes to women wanting to dance. We both tend to have jealous tendencies and hot tempers and respect that in each other. With that being said in 15 years you can't always stop an unprovoked wine and those are always handled with a step to the side and the other person not getting upset as we both know that this is the norm for fete and mas culture ❤ Also there is always little joke wines with very close friends. But we go to all fetes together, and prefer this as we actually feel off when not with each other at events. When it comes to mas though, if local I play mas without him, if international he joins me.

Couple at caribbean carnival fete
Couple at Caribbean Carnival

So when we talked about it, our only rules for feting together was, I can't get picked up or be on the ground with someone, and he can’t pick anyone up and be on the ground with someone but we have been feting together pretty much our whole relationship and we’ve come to understand you need a bit more discernment than that. There are unspoken respectful rules we abide by that I think don’t require us to communicate, we just do them. Like I’m not about to get daggered or do anything that causes me a lot of attention while he’s right there and vice versa. We’re both all over the place sometimes, but always have an idea of what area the other person is in. Sometimes we only dance together, and that’s fine too but we both know we have the freedom to wine up on anyone in the place.

Forward thinking.

Communication and respect is key. If you are new to the Carnival/fete scene and you are brininging a significant other with you, its imperative to establish clear lines of communication.  Understand you are not going to know what you don’t know.  Sometimes you wont even know you have a boundary until you are met with a challenge. I encourage all couples to be open minded, patient and understanding when it comes to charting unfamiliar territory.  I hope that this discussion broadens your perspective, and maybe even encourages a discussion that you didn’t think you might need.  Don’t forget the overall premise of the festivities is freedom and joy! Most importantly, have fun.


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