The Newbie Guide to Carnival. The Correct Terminology

The Newbie Guide to Carnival

Soca: This type of music played during carnival originated in Trinidad and Tobago and is short for “soul of calypso.” It fuses African and East Indian musical elements that are reflective of the island’s diverse demographic. Many carnival goers will say that “soca is life.”

Fete: A fete is another word for a party (it means party in French). During carnival, expect to hear people list the fetes they are going to, ranging from beach to boat locations.

J’ouvert: A fete that begins early in the morning—j’ouvert comes from the French “jour ouvert,” meaning daybreak.  Many consider j’ouvert to be a spiritual experience, and it includes revelers who cover their body in paint, oil and mud until the sun rises.

Wine: This is a circular hip movement and the dance of choice. At any moment, you should be ready to “take a wine,” without holding back.


Bands: The group that you join to dance for “pretty mas”—short for masquerade—is called a band. Bands wear different costumes and represent many different themes. Many bands will spend months with designers to create costumes which debut at a fashion show.

De Road: The street where carnival occurs is called “de road.” Thousands of people gather with their bands to dance for miles.