Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : January 16th 2014 Contents B6
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, January 16, 2014
Halfway through the fete I notice everybody
is wining. Oh...dear god...no! It s the moment
I ve been dreading since I arrived.
The moment I ll be unmasked, exposed, humil-
iated. "Call yourself a Jamaican," they ll say! Every-
body will turn to look, to point, to mock. They ll
fall about laughing like that nightmare when you
arrive at school but you ve forgotten to get dressed
and the whole school is laughing at you because
you re naked and you try to run but your legs
won t move. "Look, mummy, look! He can t wine!
He can t even wine!!"
Why didn t I come clean before? I ve confided
privately to close friends. They ve been supportive
but there is a deep internal shame I cannot shake.
I better confess here, once and for all: I cannot
I m not sure I even want to wine... At the fete
are two friends from England and Canada, pro-
fessors of anthropology and ethnomusicology.
They re wining.
They re twice my age,
but they re wining by
jingo! They turn to
me, smiling. I break
out in a sweat. All
around me people are
wining like mad, smil-
ing at me encourag-
ingly. Don t encourage
me! Just let me be!
"Why is he not
wining?" I imagine
them saying. "Is there
something wrong with
him?" Yes, I want to
scream, there is some-
thing wrong with me!
I m English!!
Onstage, Machel Montano gets to the chorus,
"I m the happiest man alive," he bellows. Well,
that s great Machel, but I m the Englishest man
alive and right now I m not happy.
It was all going so well. I was drinking rum,
laughing with friends, sexy girls were winking at
me...then the wining started. It s a wine festival.
George Bovell is at the front wining.
Television news anchors are beside me wining.
At one point the anchors go bumper to bumper.
You wouldn t see Sir Trevor McDonald doing that.
Not on my watch.
My female friend backs into my crotch, bottom
first. Crikey. I stumble backwards. I say old bean,
this is a tad aggressive!
Machel s dancing girls gyrate onstage. I just
want to watch and soak it up, like a sociologist
or columnist. "Stop thinking," my friend shouts.
"I m not thinking, I m...observing," I say. "Stop
observing! Loosen your heel! Free up yourself!"
Machel goes into his power soca bit and people
jump up. Bovell jumps up. The anthropologists
jump up. I jump up, half-heartedly. Man, I am so
English. I realise, ruefully, the concept of moving
at concerts in England is finished. People just
watch and sing. Only the really wasted dance.
But what is it about wining I can t handle? Is
it an aesthetic barrier? Physical? Cultural? Moral?
"I don t know how I feel about wining," I say
to a friend. "It s part of our culture," she replies.
"Bending over is part of your culture?" I say, well
aware that comments like that will ensure I m
alienated from the wining community indefinitely.
And when I say the "wining community," I mean
the whole of Trinidad. And Tobago. And Jamaica.
And the whole Caribbean. And its diaspora.
"I m not sure I approve of it," I tell my 84-year-
old landlord the next morning, during our wining
lesson. "Never say that in public!" He chides me,
then continues teaching me how to wine. I haven t
asked for this lesson, but I m getting it anyway.
"As well as going east to west with
your hips you ve got to go north to south.
All four cardinal points." We re on his
verandah. His shirt is hitched up revealing
his, well, groin area. I m still in my dress-
ing gown. His wife stifles mirths. Our
neighbour is not only laughing, she s
filming it on her iPhone. If this ever goes
up on YouTube it ll go viral within sec-
"Let the woman do the work, you re
not the driver, you re the passenger. She s
the vehicle, just ride the vehicle."
It s too early in the morning for this.
I haven t been to sleep yet. I got back
from the fete at 7 am. My phone is bro-
I ponder whether wining comes from
an ancient African tradition symbolising
the fecundity of woman and the virility
I think about the politics of wining.
Prince Buster s advice, "Ram her hard
and you can t go wrong." If a man
rammed a woman uninvited in England
he d have gone very wrong indeed. He d
be arrested. But here women are the
"I d prefer not to be wined on unless
I give prior consent..." I tell a friend,
who laughs. "You don t get to choose
who wines on you. If a woman wines on
you, just take it and be thankful."
Carnival is round the corner. Wining les-
sons won t be enough. I need a boot camp.
Red, red wining
I'd prefer not to
be wined on
unless I give
prior consent..." I
tell a friend, who
don't get to
wines on you. If a
woman wines on
you, just take it
and be thankful.
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