B.C’s BDOS – Something’s happening
SHE SMILED as the melody washed over her, the tune she thought of as “her song” (even if it was really RPB’s, or perhaps all of Barbados’, or maybe it belonged to every West Indian who ever felt soca music warm his heart on a cold winter’s night). Something was happening, in true; if she was free up at a Friday night party now, instead of tied down in Monday morning Bridgetown traffic, she would dance her happiness; and now she frowned.After seeing him at a Crop-Over party, she had emailed BC Pires, that Trini upstart, who had apparently come to Barbados to tell Bajans what was wrong with them. She’d just said that she’d noticed him. His reply: “Yeah, it must have been real easy to spot anyone dancing in that party!”Her brow furrowed, remembering the fete that had lasted seven hours and yielded half-a-dozen people jumping up on the dance floor. Only one Bajan woman had ‘wuk up waist’ with the Trini winer girls. One. She herself had danced a bit but then sat and watched. Her friend at work, a Grenadian, had summed up – shot down? – Crop-Over fetes and Kadooment itself with a single, devastating line. Bajans, her friend had observed, wanted to “free up”, but never managed it. “Bajan Carnival parties,” she’d said, “are all foreplay and no orgasm!” She bit her lip, took her foot off the brake, let the car inch along Welches towards the traffic light. Her own Jamaican husband laughed at her all the time over straitlaced Barbados. “The honely time oonoo Bajan hever relax,” he said, “is inna oonoo bedroom; and even then, his not heveryone.” When he discovered David Rudder’s old song, The Stiff Waist Man, off the Frenzy album, he told her it could have been the Bajan national soca anthem. “Hit seem,” her husband said, “hevery Bajan man is Ebeneezer the sweet soca teaser. Halla them stiff waist man is here!”For years, she had dismissed her husband’s teasing with the same careless toss of the wrist with which she dispatched her Grenadian workmate; but, this year, they had gone to Trinidad for Carnival. And she had seen the ghetto girls who flung their restrictions away and threw waist like fire at the big Carnival fetes. And she had understood that these worthless women, in that moment, were far, far richer than she was. Red Plastic Bag’s beautiful voice swelled in the chorus. Was there a West Indian who could resist that call? “I see flags everywhere,” she sang. “I see rags everywhere”. And then it hit her: firetruck BC Pires and her Grenadian workmate and her Jamrock husband. Barbados might be a bit farther behind but Bajans were on the same road as Trinis, as Jamaicans, as Brazilians, as everyone who had followed the same path down through time. Lipstick might have touched her ears, her smile was that wide, when she sang, so loud that the man in the next car heard: “Not even rain or sun/ Can stop this celebration/ From reaching its destination!”• BC Pires is a stiff waist man.