Whining: genuine Caribbean dance form or vulgarity?

Vulgar! It means rude, impolite, bad mannered.  Vulgarity often times is used to describe certain aspects of Caribbean culture, not least is the “whine’’.
Whine is defined by a Caribbean dance expert as the thrusting or rotating of the pelvic girdle in a rhythmic pattern.  This must be distinguished from the English dictionary’s definition of “whine’’, which refers to a long cry of complaint or pain.

Arley GillIn the context of Caribbean culture, whine is a genuine regional dance form. It is the natural way in which Caribbean people dance to the calypso or soca rhythm.  It requires no teaching or no formal learning at a school of dance. It’s as natural as our language rhythm or cadence of speech.
Unlike other genre of music that inspires the feet – such as “salsa’’, “kweyol’’ and “tango’’ – the dancing of soca music inspires the rhythmic movement of the waistline, more than any other body part.

In many African societies also, similar movements to the soca whine are well known; synonymous with the continent is the African gyration of the waist and the “tumbling’’ of the posterior part of the human anatomy to the drum and musical instruments.  As an African descended majority, it is safe to say we inherited many ancestral traits.

It is bizarre that other peoples who were transplanted to the west have tried to hold on and perpetuate their motherland culture. The Jews, for example, have done that; so, too, have the Chinese and East Indians.
Africans, however, have either had their culture banned, such as their language and religion, even up to the mid-20th century prohibition of the Shouter Baptists; or we ourselves have tried to distance ourselves from or to ridicule our own African-based culture.

Generally, the culture of Western Europe idealizes “thin’’ – thin women, thin waists and so on. On the other hand, the culture of black people – in Africa and in the Caribbean – is not shy about celebrating “big’’ – big hips, big bottom, and the curvature of our women.

At a recent music awards’ ceremony, some Americans expressed outrage at Miley Cyrus “twerking’’ with Robin Thicke on stage. In response, CNN broadcaster Piers Morgan wondered aloud what the fuss was about. He said he had travelled to the Caribbean and seen that kind of dancing from Jamaica in the north to Guyana in the south.  Read more here!

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