An experience of Lucian Patois

The Lucians enthralled with their dances and, despite befuddling the hapless English-only speakers in the crowd with patois, entertained by showing off their strain of French Creole lifestyle.

Bone-defying dance
A St Lucian musician with Chak-Chak

When the St Lucian cultural performers took to the stage in the car park of the Lloyd Erskine Sandiford Centre after the Barbadians had done their thing, a reasonable expectation of the crowd was another artistic exhibition orated with an English base. However, it became an instant experience of patois immersion accompanied by dances to music that infected the audience.

The St Lucian music night of CARIFESTA XIII represented an opportunity for the Lucians to give the un-initiated English-struck a view of another pattern that makes up the Caribbean cultural mosaic.

The people of St Lucia, along with those of other islands in the Lesser Antilles, lay claim to being the region’s authentic speakers of Patois, a mixture of language containing its own rules of grammar and taken from French colonisers, that of slaves brought to these islands from Africa, and the Carib people who were met there.

The Lucians danced and sang to back-up music of cuatro, rattle, and chak-chak players. There was the ‘Bele’ performance which is academically listed as a “a form of Creole song and couple dance, performed one couple with a leader and chorus. They are performed in several context, most notably at wakes”.

The enthralling aspect of this dance was the smooth morphing from a group of persons going in a circle into a number of couples doing what appeared to the English-oriented waltz.

Then there was the quadrille dance in which individuals within a ring of dancers took turns in showing off their fertility in a series of bone-defying gyrations.

Source: by George Alleyne

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