From Calypso Aerobics to Zumba Gold, the Energy is Carnival

While the weather was still cold and wintery on the outside, the large indoor basketball court on the inside was steamy hot and sweaty. Seniors were dancing and exercising to the rhythms of hip hop, salsa, and the latest radio hits. Within the hour, there were beads of happy sweat dripping from their foreheads, and through their clothing. And their expressions were brimming with joy.
Tony Bryan Vicky & Caroline

Tony Bryan, the Zumba dance instructor, holds court and provides cautiously monitored dance exercises to the lively audience of young 60+ year olds. The Zumba Gold sessions are the most well attended events at the recreation facility. For Montgomery County Senior residents, it is a daytime party with the benefits of exercise. There are energetic dance movements with enthusiastic warmth and excitement. Just like Carnival, but without the costumes, everyone revels in the energy of the music and the dancing is both spontaneous and choreographed. Read More

The Scourge of Blackface

It seems every time someone idiotically sports blackface in the US of A, the clamor of racism is touted. The prudent and socially conscious voice their alarm and discontent. Inevitably, around Halloween every year, we get to repeat and repeal our disgust with people who arbitrarily find amusement in blackface painting. Strangely enough, most often, these people are white.

This year, celebrity Dancing with the Stars, Julianne Hough caused a major twitter and social media stir with her orange face. There was also the pervasive obscenity of the individuals who decided to masquerade as the neighborhood watch and the hooded blackface individual with blood stained hoodie.. a sick joke on the Trayvon Martin tragedy. And yet another blackface, and this one was arsenic. A black woman, choose to have a noose around her neck, while two white friends are play acting as her captors. While the latter two characterizations are revolting and disgusting, and there is no apology for their obvious sickening displays, I thought about what blackface conjures up to me.I am an unapologetically black, Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago female. We have a yearly celebration that we proudly boast as the world’s greatest dance party, Carnival. Rivalled only by Brazil, the Carnival in Trinidad and Tobago features the ghouls of J’ourvert, the dawning of the days of celebration, with black faces, blue faces, red, green and all colorations of mud indiscriminately plastered over the face and body. We also are costumed in the regalia of beads, glitz and glitter, sequins and feather in ornate and flaming opulence. It is called masquerade.

Back in my childhood days in Trinidad, I was a big fan of Al Jolson. Toot Toot Tootsie goodbye! Toot Toot Tootsie don’t cry!.. I would tap and sing and pretend to tip my hat and cane just like I saw on TV. On our families black and white tv in the living room, we would all gather to enjoy, the Black and White Minstrels show and sing along to all the songs of the yesteryears. Read More