Adventures of s/v WILD HAIR


Our land life took on form, solidity, routine. We had mastery of a limited set of skills. We had habitual expectations of others and ourselves. Going sailing, we let go of our attachments to our roles, views, and rituals. We persist because we are growing in this shapeless and dynamic world.

Friday, June 25, 2010



That is the best word to describe the musicians and dancers participating in the Saturday night Easter Junkanoo at Black Point. A small flock of trumpeters, trombonists, tuba players, garbage can drummers, Kalik (cow bell) ringers, and a rack ‘n scraper (a cheese grater artist) was adorned in fantastic, mardi gras -style costumes. In the dark of night, hundreds of people of all ages emerged from the small town to line the street and step and bounce to heart-pounding rhythms.

Junkanoo is a festival in the Bahamas and Turks and Cacaos celebrating freedom from slavery. The word is derived from a 17th Century slave master and trader named “John Canoe.” Given opportunity, Canoe’s slaves would hide in bushes, dance, and make music while covered in improvised costumes created from home-made paints and leaves.

Part of the Bahamian cultural fabric, Junkanoo celebrations vary widely from the elaborate parade with floats in Nassau to the recreated performances for cruise ship passengers in Fish Fry Village or Rock Sound. In Black Point, the Easter Junkanoo celebration was the climax of a fundraising festival supporting the community’s multi-purpose center. Food, drink, clown ventriloquists, and face-painters, had loosened the crowd. Trophies were ready for award to the winners of the day’s basketball, fishing, and domino contests.

Scheduled to begin at 20:00, the Junkanoo actually started on Bahama time at 21:30. From the darkness came a thumping, repetitive tune playful in its execution. Soloists took turns flaunting their musical prowess. Decorated dancers broke from the group to display high energy moves. The freshly constructed handmade costumes sparkled. Sequined patterns on crisp white, oranges, and yellows set off towering feather headdresses.

Starting at one end of the block, the musicians danced nearly in place to the driving beat. Slowly, almost imperceptibly, the musicians made their way down the street. The locals swooped around the group and joined in the dancing, shouting cheers of encouragement. The energy was infectious. The handful of sailors present were swept into the crowd with the locals and danced and bounced like residents. After a period of time (perhaps 30 minutes), and some distance (maybe a half block), the musicians spontaneously did an about face. This caused chaos in the crowd as everyone bumped into each other in a friendly bopping mess.

This is Junkanoo: resplendent musicians surrounded by happy party goers “marching” up and down the block many times while playing a driving tune. In this simple fun nothing else matters. A bond of love and camaraderie is born.

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