I learnt to ‘whine” when I was three years old. For those of you who don’t know what the word “whine” means, it means to gyrate while dancing. I was taught by my grand-mother, myself and all my other little cousins, boys included. When the sun went down, at that time in the deep country side of the Caribbean 1980’s my grand-mother had neither running water, nor television, our entertainment consisted of crick-crack stories and a transitor radio. We would gather in a small circle on the linolium covered wooden floor and compete amongst ourselves with my grand-mother as judge, who could whine better. You cannot imagine the laughter…
This sort of dancing is African in it’s origin and can be found all over the Caribbean and West African countries, Congo, Senegal, Ivory Coast ect. Nothing to be ashamed of on the contrary something that brings much joy. (A little side note, I immediately bonded with the Belgian artist Carsten Holler at a party at The Garage in Moscow when I saw him doing the Cogolese version of whining, nothing could have impressed me more.) Which brings me to the issue that caused me to think about this.
Rihanna at Carnival in Barbados.
Cultural Imperialism in conflict! No one’s going to make me feel bad about this image.
On the contrary, I was just at home in St.Lucia having dinner with my cousins and some other female friends, and they are “SO PROUD OF RIHANNA” because of this exact same picture. Now these are very successful business women, one runs a chain of coffee shops in several islands, another owns an interior decorating business and another runs 12 miles every day training for the New York Marathon. Does it make them sluts that they also dance like this on carnival day, in clubs or at house parties? We’ve been doing it since we were children and taught by our mothers and grand-mothers. It’s one of the reasons Rihanna’s concerts don’t bother me at all.
Western culture sells everything based on sex a fake sort of sexuality at that, one that leaves its consumers more handicapped. And when I say that I’m thinking that the women that I see at Carnival don’t need liposuction or lip fillers to seduce a man, no sir not at all. They come in all shapes and sizes and dress just the same as Rihanna did in the above photo and there is NO SHAME, and there shouldn’t be. Women dance with women, men with men and it means nothing at all except good ole fun. It’s freedom at it’s peak.
I mean, suppose I did the kutumba for you, which is a very forceful traditional dance that by Western standards would be seen as savage where you stick your butt far out then jerk it forward one leg raised in the air, it’s come down from so many grand-mothers, and I’m supposed to be ashamed. Oh no, not me.
Here’s one of my favourite Barbadian soca songs by Alison Hinds. When it was realeased my dancing abilities knew no bounds, listen
And to give a little more of a feel for it here’s a video from 2008 Calypso Monarch performing for some children here.
Title photo: google images of various women from the islands of Trinidad, St.Lucia, St.Vincent, Barbados and also Brazil.