top of page

The Politics of Wining Alone

By Natassia Morris



When the iron have me bazodee and I ‘trowin waist like thunder, it is catharsis. There’s a moment when the music “sweet yuh” and you are no longer in control - your body is responding to the rhythm and awakening the ancestors. It is at that precise moment that I absolutely do NOT need a man to jump behind me, try to grab me, or push up in front of me to disrupt my emancipated waistline. Hard Pass!


"Coupled with the misogyny that permeates across the globe which dictates that women’s bodies - especially Black women’s bodies - must be routinely policed, judged and commodified, and you can begin to understand why the culture, while liberating, can hold undertones of oppression..."

When the Calypso Queen of the World sang “Boy doh touch me. Like you goin crazy. Let go me hand. Lemme jump up in de band,” Caribbean women around the globe felt it in their collective souls. We’ve played this scene out countless times before. The predominant narrative in Carnival culture is that “all man” must “wine up on a woman” and “all woman” must “wine on a man”. Coupled with the misogyny that permeates across the globe which dictates that women’s bodies - especially Black women’s bodies - must be routinely policed, judged and commodified, and you can begin to understand why the culture, while liberating, can hold undertones of oppression.


I can feel the collective rolling of eyes…and I get it. Wining shouldn’t be so political. But freedom, liberation and rebellion are. So if I don’t have the freedom to engage in the liberating act of waistline undulations, which harkens back to the rebellion of my ancestors, that is political. When we fling and roll it in a fete, there are still far too many men who see it as a challenge, a ‘bamsee’ to be conquered and dominated. Further, they see female bodies in general as entertainment, presented solely and entirely for male consumption. A woman wining alone is clearly calling out for a male partner. If she’s going to carry on like that in public, she must be “asking for it,” right? Does that remind you of anything?

"There is nothing wrong with two waistlines moving in harmony; in fact with the right partner it can become a thing of beauty. The problem lies in our continued perpetuation of Eurocentric heteronormative standards."

This is the dangerous “fine line” that younger generations of Caribbean folks around the world are finally opening their eyes to. There is nothing wrong with two waistlines moving in harmony; in fact with the right partner it can become a thing of beauty. The problem lies in our continued perpetuation of Eurocentric heteronormative standards. Take, for example, respectability politics and masculine dominance, which attempt to dictate how, when and with whom a woman can wine. It is so insidious that some of us don’t even realize that we’re conforming to these standards. These antiquated “ideals” will have us deem a woman spinning on her headtop as “too extra” or have us feeling a type of way if a group of Black women start twerking in the middle of a restaurant. It is so blatantly opposed to the origins of the culture of Carnival, a culture that emerged out of the rebellion of enslaved and formerly enslaved Africans against European slave owners and the ruling class, and to the cultural expression of wining.


We are growing as a people. I truly believe that we do not need to be held down by the idea that “this is the way it’s always been done in our culture.” When we know better, we do better. Recognizing female bodily autonomy, asking for consent, or even being okay with wining alone, should not detract from the joy of soca, feteing, or Carnival. If it does, it’s high time we start to ask ourselves, why?



Musical References:

Iron Bazodee - Square One & Alison Hinds (1999)

Thunder Waist - Patrice Roberts (2008)

Leave Me Alone - Calypso Rose (2016)

Time to Wine - Iwer George (1994)







 

Natassia Morris: Raised in a performing arts family, Natassia has been actively involved in the arts and culture sector in Toronto since immigrating to Canada from Trinidad and Tobago in the early ‘90’s. She has studied various dance techniques throughout her three decade artist trajectory, including African-Caribbean, Caribbean Folk, West African, Jazz, Classical Ballet, and Modern Techniques (Dunham, Graham, and Horton). An accomplished choreographer and dance instructor, Natassia has created and presented works for the Toronto Caribbean Carnival, Carabram, Nuit Blanche, and the Luminato Festival.


Natassia is currently co-writing a new play on the roots of Carnival culture told from a Toronto perspective, and continues to share her cultural stories and knowledge through dance education workshops in communities across the GTA and in Toronto’s school boards. She is also a seasoned media, marketing and communications professional with over a decade of experience across sectors including in the arts, not-for-profit, education and corporate.


Photo Credit: Chris Steele-Perkins, Girls Dancing in a Wolverhampton Youthclub, 1978, courtesy Chris Steele-Perkins/Magnum Photos

Digital Design: D.Baptiste



Comments


bottom of page