Yesterday, Sian, James and myself poodled on down to the Spring Garden Highway, to see the end of the procession of the legendary ‘crop over’ festival.
Crop over celebrates, as you’ve probably guessed, the final harvesting of the year’s sugar cane crop. Traditionally it was a celebration of the end of a gruelling and long season, and has now developed into the massive festival that it is today. We went down for the grand finale – ‘Kadooment day’ but our plans were some what dampened by the weather.
It’s hurricane season out here at the moment, and so we are periodically treated to massive down pours and electrical storms. Yesterday was no exception.
We had hoped to get down to see the end of the five mile procession, that starts at the Gymnasium and finishes down on the Spring Garden Highway, but seeing as how I am not the biggest fan of swimming, and the fact that I didn’t really want to drown the camera, we waited a few hours in the hope the rain would stop. It certainly died down towards mid afternoon, so we resigned ourselves to getting wet and headed down.
As with all festivals, especially ones of this size, (they reckon about 20,000 people come to Barbados for Kadooment) there is money to be made. Lots and lots of money.
So what happens is various bands are formed. These bands offer a racy costume, and access to a number of parties before the big Kadooment procession. On the day, you wear your costume, which can cost anything between $300 and $2000, and join your other band members on the jump. This basically means following a truck, loaded with an awesome PA, crap load of rum and beer and dancing for 5 miles. It’s pretty awesome.
By the time we had got there though, we feared we had missed the procession. Waiting for the rain to die down had meant we got there later than planned, and as we walked down the highway we saw a lot of ‘jumpers’ walking back to their cars, soaked through and looking, quite rightly, exhausted.
We stood around and had a few beers, and just as we turned to leave, a procession picked up, and we were thrown into the frenzy of Crop Over.
The general rule of jumping, or ‘winding’ as it’s called, is very simple. Ladies rub their behind provocatively in the crotch of a bloke, who stands behind pounding her mercilessly. I thought that they played dominoes aggressively, but this is a whole new level.
And that’s the national dance.
It really isn’t very pleasant – and what’s worse; there are young kids of 5 and 6 standing on the street side doing it themselves…I’m afraid to say that I felt very British as I tried to find other, more savory things to photograph – during which time Sian got ‘wound’ herself:
The costumes were pretty awesome though, and fair play to the band members – they had been jumping since 6am that morning – were all soaked through and had danced for well over 5 miles – yet when they came back through us, the energy was simply amazing.
As you can probably tell, the light was really, really dull – we had massive storm clouds above stopping any available sunlight dead in its tracks. This meant that there was no definition in the photos – they looked lack luster and drab…so I popped the old flash remotes on, held the flash as far away form the camera as I could (you know by now how much I hate using on camera flash) and got these bad boys:
After the frenzy of the parade, a few usable shots and couple of beers later, the heavens opened and we ran for the car – desperate to get ourselves and our kit dry.
Despite getting there late, and seeing only the very end of the festival, Sian and I have promised each other that we will jump ourselves next year…I need to start working out though – I’ll do my back in with all that thrusting in my current physical state, and judging by the amount of shoes that didn’t make it…I’m not too sure how well my flabby carcus will fare…
Back to work tomorrow – be back soon 🙂