July 3, 2019
I dance in public; I don’t mean at clubs or on stage. No, I do not dance for the public, I just dance in public. At bus stops, on the metro, waiting in line, if the beat moves me, I move.
It first started as a political act; as a part of my perceptions about the City and how they dealt with Carribana.
My first jump-up experience was around age 11, when my Jamaican mom took me for the first time. Now, if you have been reading along, you know my father’s family, who raised me in my formative years, is a conservative, Bajun, Adventist one. Saturday mornings are not spent in the street win’in’ up!
Yeah, it was culture shock. Such rampant displays of sexuality, oh my! Is that? Yup, that is my Auntie wyn’in’ down and . . . OMG she is dusting the ground with her behind! At that tender age, just coming into awareness of sex and sexuality, it was a whole lot. It was also beautiful, affirming and familial.
At the time, the City had a love hate thing with the event. A few assholes chose to break community codes and bring violence into family settings – real people don’t shit where they eat- and as usual, the community as a whole took the blame. Some would have loved to kill the event all together, but the millions brought in when fam came to visit from New York, Boston, Hartford, and Toronto was too good to give up. So instead they worked to suck the joy out of the event and send the best of it to Toronto.
That is not to say some in the community don’t bear some responsibility – those who seek the status of ownership, rather than recognizing the responsibility of stewardship- but this entry is about why I dance in public.
Eventually I would throw myself into the marvelous frenzy of jump-up week-end, ending with a night under the stars at the Belvidere Motel. It was a time to celebrate my culture, my community and yes, my God given sensuality.
Then the City started to herd us into uncomfortable situation. We could have our parade, but no community gathering at its end. We could have our parade, but it would end in Old Montreal, where the police would quickly hassle us off the street. We could have our parade, but the after party would be on their controlled island, where I can pay for the pleasure of getting in, pay higher rates for everything so the City could get their kick back (fees from community vendors), get harassed by security and then fight my way onto public transit to get out. As a result, I no longer jump-up or go to Jamaica Day in the Park.
This is also what started my public dancing. I figured that if the City made millions from our shaking our ass at jump-up, then I should be able to dance almost anywhere/anytime – and did so. It was my mini daily protest, a way of reminding the powers that be that I exist outside of the traditional July first weekend and I am not a tourist. It was my intent to be conspicuous. That was long ago, but it did help me break the habit for caring what others thought of me.
Now, it is just about energy and the music. I tend to sport my iPod mini when in transit. It helps me keep the daily transit bullshit at bay. I can be a moody person, but I also feel very accountable for my moods. As a result I use music to help me keep balance. If I am dragging as when I wake up, I load up my R&B and Reggae. If I am feeling spastic and scattered, I load up my folk, jazz and soft classic rock. When I have had enough and just need to tune out, I blast my Hip Hop & Zeppelin and the likes. I don’t just have this stuff playing at my ears, I actually connect to it and take great joy from it. In fact, the days where I feel like I am not connecting, I turn it off and connect to the natural world around me.
As a result, yes, I dance in public & have even been known to sing along too. Being in theatre has only made it worst. As far as I am concern, if the music you listen to does not ever move you to do this as well, you’re doing music wrong.