I didn't know that the director of Rihanna's "Work" video was Trini, not even when I saw the interview that featured him all over Facebook. And I must say, I am ashamed of myself that I didn't know who this talented individual was. After looking him up on social media, I was impressed. He seems to be a thinker, someone that cares about the planet and someone that is pretty private. He doesn't appear to be a showboat, but rather someone quietly working on his craft and passion and making major moves in these avenues. In the interview with Director X for Fader magazine, he discusses the dance scene with Rihanna and Drake in the "Work" video, and addresses the remarks that they should get together. So, let me just say, Rihanna and Drake dancing as they are is common at Caribbean parties and definitely doesn't mean they are sleeping together. Come on, it's a video; people act for music videos, so let's not get carried away with ourselves.
Director X talks in depth about "doing the reggae thing" with the video's theme, and about Caribbean culture stating, "In West Indian culture, a dance is a dance." Moreover, that people dance like that, sometimes even with their boyfriend next to them and it's not a big deal because it's just a dance after all. He then references Trinidad and soca culture and it being even worse, where "it really goes crazy." This is where I start to feel some type of way. And essentially he is right, a lot of times a dance is just a dance, and it doesn't mean anything more. But sometimes, just sometimes, it's more than that, and sometimes a wine can mean different things. I have to address the little nuances, but I want to do so delicately without taking away from the awesomeness of the Caribbean working together and bringing an aspect of Caribbean culture to the pop cultural forefront.
But I do want to address the one-dimensionality of carnival culture that is being broadcasted far and wide by party brands and carnival websites on YouTube etc., as the norm, without any true representation of how this all plays out. I cannot speak for dancehall culture; I don't really partake in it too much, and yes, although I may dance to a few songs in a soca party, I don't really know the origins and how the participants feel about a dance. But as a Caribbean woman and a lover of carnival, soca and Trinidad, I have to somewhat disagree with some of X's sentiments. I feel it needs to be said as apparently no one else feels the nudge to do so, and I just wanted to offer another side, or maybe a better, more multidimensional understanding.
Let me start by addressing wining (dancing in a provocative manner, gyrating one's waist): everyone is different in the wining thing. I know those of you that are born in foreign but are proud of your Trini heritage may have a slightly skewered outlook on wining up in a band and jammin' somebody man, as the song goes. So, I am trying to clarify some things for all, because there is clearly a disconnect in the culture between those of us born there and grown there on the island and those of us born in foreign; however, the thing uniting us all is love for this beautiful island in the sun. The skewered look is no fault of your own, in fact, the passion and love you have for your music and culture is to be applauded. The fact that you want to connect with your heritage and culture leaves my heart full of pride for my people.
Firstly, there are some of us who like to jam (dance intimately) with every and anybody, usually we are either pretty drunk or have a little low self esteem and jammin' everyone makes us feel wanted and special, but that is not all of us -- just some. I know that is all you see when you search videos of carnival or soca, but it is not the case 100% of the time. In actuality, when you pay attention, most winers who wine up on anybody, are dismissed as hungry for attention, or you'll see comments like "what happen to she, how she getting on slack so" being made. But nobody is telling you folks that though because all you see in the videos are women smiling sweetly and being welcoming to every dance partner.
Example of the one dimensionality that's promoted. Drunk or nah? CLICK.
There are some of us who don't care to wine on everything that moves, be it man or woman. Some of us like to dance with folks we know, or find attractive, or we just like to wild out with our girls and don't necessarily enjoy being jammed by sweaty random dudes. I belong to this category, if you haven't guessed. That is not to say that I wouldn't give a random guy a small wine, but most times it's because I don't want them to feel bad. Now, if he's taking too long to leave my bumpa, there are ways I give him a hint, such as, stop dancing and stand up still, start talking to friends and move off, or go to the bar or the bathroom. Don't know if you folks know this or not, but just in case, I want to clarify: you are not obligated to wine with or on anyone you are not feeling.
Click link below to see an example when we don't want to dance with someone. CLICK.
There is no rule that says you have to and a lot of us don't. I have had several party experiences where someone tries to holla and ask where I am from and once I say Trinidad, they immediately imply that I must be some kind of wining queen that they can jam however they want. When I decline to dance, they question my Trininess, but this only happens with gentlemen that are not from and did not grow up in Trinidad. They are buying into the media image of the island.
X's statement that your man could be standing there while you dance with someone else is probably possible but improbable. I have only personally witnessed and encountered break-ups and fights in such situations. To pretend wining is not sexual is the stupidest thing I have ever heard. It is a very sexual dance and the looser your waist is, the more you are rated sexually and that's a fact. If it wasn't sexual, men wouldn't get hard off a wine, and they sure as hell don't get hard dancing the waltz. If a significant other is wining with another and their partner is present, it may be to get them jealous, because there is no way you could be in a relationship with someone and stand there, and watch them dance as Rihanna was dancing with Drake and think, oh well, it was just a dance. The kind of wine she gave him in that video, in real life, is a wine you give someone you checking for, someone you are interested in, and most likely numbers would be exchanged and links made.
Wining can also be a form of empowerment, especially for women, if you know you looking good and you have a really flexible waist and legs, you know all eyes will be on you. Other women will want to wine like you and men will want to wine with you. You will be the center of attention and that feeling can be quite empowering. What I am really trying to say is that wining is an art form and a form of communication, and like all art forms and forms of communication, it's subject to interpretation and translation. It means different things to different people and different cultures, so for it to be generalized as only one thing is irresponsible and frankly obtuse. There are all types of wines: there is the stush wine (trying to look proper while wining, the pity wine (you feel bad for the other person), the wickedest wine (you save this for special dance partners i.e. sexy men/women), the chippin' and wining (this you do while the music truck moving), the tired wine (your foot hurting), and the list goes on.
Example of when we feel empowered. CLICK.
Example of the Tired wine.
I wanted to clarify these little things because I wasn't sure if folks knew, and if you did, great, you get it. If you didn't, I hope this only expands your love for your culture. I see a slightly misconstrued, one-sided depiction of the culture being promoted and I had to at least know that I tried to address this or my conscience wouldn't rest well. I had to say something because I see that the culture is changing to just a wine-and-jam culture, and we are losing the little touches that make us special and add complexities to who we are. More and more people are emphasizing this one dimensional twist that is being pushed for the sake of increasing revenue, and let me just say that these businesses that are in party promoting may not have seen this consequence, but now that we see it, I think little tweaks can be made to give a more accurate picture of we ting, something that we can be proud of passing down to the younger generations.
All video clips were obtained from ILIVECARNIVAL page on Instagram.