The rise of Natalie

FAS is off to a strong start for this year’s Reggae Festival.  The usefulness of the Festival to tourism was also very visible on the Beach.  The promoters of FAS continue to experiment with their formula to keep the public interested in and satisfied with their product.    

This year, they added a regional deejay to the show’s line up and I think the crowd response has given the move a passing grade.  Of course, I read the move as even more strategic coming as it does on the heels of DJ Puffy winning the world deejay championship.  It is another example of FAS’ continued contribution to the development of a cultural industry across the region.

deejaying has become a growing and significant entertainment related product.  As with many things, it feels like we are just willing to let the world lead us in the trend.  However, FAS has now upped the ante for aspiring deejays from Barbados and the region by including a slot for visiting deejays in FAS produced shows. 

This made me reflect on the Cultural Industries Bill that we passed with much fervour. How has it improved the people we are producing in the cultural industries? Are we actively redefining what are cultural industries in line with world trends or is it still Mother Sally and the Green Monkey?  How are our educational opportunities changing to prepare students who can be integrated into the cultural industries?

I spent one solitary moment in the sand Sunday as the reggae intermingled with my chosen beverage.  In that solitary moment, I realized that in my book, a cultural industries policy was seemingly not bearing tangible fruit at least three years after its introduction. After all I had said about a policy for sports just a few weeks ago in this same space, the sad truth is FAS and DJ Puffy, Stabby, Stiffy and the pool of Barbadian talent performing Sunday had really pulled themselves up independently of any real government structure. 

So was it at the beginning of the Reggae Festival, well over ten years ago and so is it still. I am not saying that the Government does not support the Reggae Festival, I am sure it does.  I am talking purely about talent infrastructure and what we are doing to increase and build out various cultural offerings.  Some may even argue that this role is indeed for private sector interests like FAS and not government.  I am not invested in any position; I simply want more national debate and policy positioning which seems to be assisting those already in the industry and those aspiring. 

Notwithstanding, the Barbadian talent pool seemingly continues to grow.  I was particularly impressed with the strides Stiffy Star Quality is making.  His voice was clear, his repertoire of music is building and he works his crowd.  Some even opined that he was good enough to headline the show.  He is certainly working hard to deserve that chance. 

Natalie, whom I affectionately call Nat, is also another interesting emergence to the Barbadian talent pool. Natalie has created a Crop Over offering out of what could have been first perceived as a negative encounter on Facebook. In doing that, she has highlighted a number of things which, to my mind, are noteworthy. 

Firstly, we return to the point of the cultural industry and how we create opportunities.  How do we tap into communities to find talent? Is there a serious mechanism? Natalie can at least hold a key and she dances as well. How could she have been given the musical opportunity she is now enjoying at a much earlier stage in her life? How would that have been transformative in her life?

Having not answered the question, Nat challenges us to deal with her as she now is.  She seems to be boldly and comfortably offering adult entertainment services.  She is forcing us to look up under the dirty national rug where we put the myriad issues we choose to overlook. Prostitution, although it happens very publicly in some cases across the island, is still a completely unregulated trade.

There were some efforts to formalize aspects of the exotic dancing sector by one of the owners but they seem to have fizzled. There is no international consensus on how prostitution is managed although some best practices have emerged. Even in countries where prostitution remains illegal, the health and well-being of those working in the sector are managed using health checks and access to related services.

There are charity operations and other lobby groups which keep the issues and needs of adult entertainment workers foregrounded. In the void around the issue in Barbados, Natalie has poised herself to start a discussion. I hope it is a rounded and serious discussion instead of a name and blame or fodder for religious zealots. 

Should we legalize prostitution and other adult entertainment services in Barbados? What are the pros and what are the cons?  How do we stand to assist most of the people involved in the sector and ensure their health and safety?

Natalie is here and she seems to have a following based on how she was received on the Beach. I hope we realize that she is a part of a very alive and growing culture in our country. It has germinated up out of years of generational poverty in some instances, lack of opportunity in others and the minibus and dancehall culture have more widely provided space for the culture to ferment. 

Nat is very much now a part of the definition of what it means to be a Barbadian woman in some cases. That is not a point to scoff at or judge. It is simply as it is and as Nat would say – So what (now)?

(Marsha Hinds-Layne is a full time mummy and part time lecturer in communications at the University of the West Indies.

9 Responses to The rise of Natalie

  1. Krystal Reece
    Krystal Reece April 28, 2017 at 10:39 am

    Smh I really don’t know where this country I call home going at all, what next legalizing homosexuality? ??? Is that what’s next or is there another surprise coming

  2. Julia Robinson
    Julia Robinson April 28, 2017 at 10:52 am

    Marsha, there are a couple of your statements I do not subscribe to. 1) when did poverty become a prerequisite for whoring? 2) I do not agree and is totally appalled that you would make such a statement about whoring being included in the definition of Barbadian women.

  3. Michelle Griffith
    Michelle Griffith April 28, 2017 at 11:07 am

    What was said in this article makes me want to go hmmmmmm.

  4. Julia Robinson
    Julia Robinson April 28, 2017 at 11:23 am

    We were poor and my mother never whored. What she did was pick up that hoe every morning and headed to the plantation. I fail to believe that barbados has transformed that much in the almost 40yrs I left. Please correct me if I am comprehending your column incorrectly.

  5. Alison Hoyte-small
    Alison Hoyte-small April 28, 2017 at 11:27 am

    Generational poverty is real. ‘Tea babies’ exist. Burying heads in sand to realities is not offering solutions or assistance. Even in neighborhoods we easily see the above things are prevalent but we turn our heads and refuse to lend helping hands. Children going hungry, etc through no fault of theirs; then as they get older they ‘hustle ‘ for their survival and unfortunately are taken advantage of and forced into situations. Something for something. This is not to say who is right or wrong but sometimes those who feel it knows it better than most. For e.g. if a school girl wants to further her education but no one is able to or willing to help, what then? To get a job you need certification. To get certification you need money to pay fees for exams, classes, etc. Still not justifying just stating things. Can you imagine the moral dilemmas some people face? Some of us have strong family support, etc and can close our eyes and throw caution to the winds that we will be caught in safety nets if all comes to naught. Unfortunately, this does not hold true for more people than a lot of us are ready to admit.

  6. Dre Dre April 28, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    This ( Nat ) person is a deplorable human being…. youngsters need morales and good role models and this is what Bim has come too … shame on anyone who think she’s anything other than a scum bag …. promoting and sexualizing prostitution!!

  7. Cee Greaves-Gibson
    Cee Greaves-Gibson April 28, 2017 at 2:10 pm

    Only unbiased view I have seen so far. There are quite a few “Natalie’s” around some on corners some aren’t. Who is familiar with Rachel Pringle who appears anything historical article written about Barbados!

  8. Bajan First April 29, 2017 at 8:14 am

    Is this the shared view of the political party of which she is a member and from which she has received very strong support !

  9. Anti-Natalie April 29, 2017 at 1:27 pm

    This column is garbage. Also erroneous and misleading. Talent pool? Natalie has but one line in the song, and she is talking it not singing. This article is clearly biased but then again she is a columnist not a reporter.


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