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How to speak like a Carnival pro

Know your wine from your lime, with this handy glossary of Carnival vocab

By Jude Brosnan
Carnival lingo: behaviour


Carnival isn't a time to be shy and retiring. The last thing on revellers mind's is behaving well and worrying about what people think. With all the rum and bacchanal, at Carnival you are more likely to hear it said that ‘they had no behaviour’. Don’t bring your behaviour to Carnival.

Carnival lingo: bacchanal


Carnival was originally a chance for everyone to let loose and party before the sober fasting of Lent. Hence the use of the term ‘bacchanal’ – derived from Bacchus, the god of winemaking – to describe the spirit of Carnival.

Carnival lingo: Mas


Short for Masquerade. If you are a feathered-up bikini clad dancer, you are are a Masquerader and will be ‘playing mas’ at Carnival.

Carnival lingo: boccle n spoon

Boccle n spoon

When the soundsystems and the float speakers are shut down, the Masqueraders pick up bottles and spoons and anything else that can make music, and freestyle until the procession ends.

Carnival lingo: bogle


A fluid dance move created by the late dancehall legend Gerald ‘Bogle’ Levy. Google ‘Bogleing policeman’ – that should explain it.

Carnival lingo: chippin


The walking and dancing movement employed my Mas dancers who are following the float. Think dad-dancing but sexier and with a lot more rhythm.

Carnival lingo: feting


Feting is basically partying with added music food and dancing. Rum plays quite an important role in feting during Carnival.
Carnival lingo: j'ouvert


J’ouvert marks the beginning of Carnival. In London, it’s held on the Sunday and is also known as Children’s Day and there is some behaviour and less bacchanal. Well. Sort of. Treat it as a warm up for Monday.

Carnival lingo: liming


Liming means chilling out and relaxing with friends. Which explains why you might hear someone say: ‘Come by our float for a lime.’

Carnival lingo: wine


A dance movement, very gyratory, all hips and pelvis. It is mentioned in lots of Soca songs and is very different and nothing like as romantic as wining and dining.

Get in the know

Notting Hill Carnival 2013
© David Tett

Notting Hill Carnival information

Plan your day at Carnival now – here's all you need to know about what tube stations are open, family day, first aid and staying safe. Don't go to Carnival without reading our essential info guide. 

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