Sriram Veera on India in the West Indies 2011 June 10, 2011

A sexist society or harmless fun?

As you walk up the alcohol-washed up stairs up into the Trini Posse stand, you can smell it, breathe it, hear it and finally see it as you reach the landing
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As you walk up the alcohol-washed stairs to the Trini Posse stand, you can smell it, breathe it, hear it and finally see it as you reach the landing. Dance. Music. Sun. Rum. Beer. Sweaty swaying bodies. A fat DJ is expertly controlling the crowd and ramping up the music. Alcohol is on the house. Everywhere you see drunken eyes, screening themselves from the harsh sun, but almost possessed by the party spirit. Soca music. Hip hop. Topped up with that special shake of the posterior, Trini style.

No use beating around the bush here; you can definitely feel a definite sense of raw lust in the air. It’s everywhere. It’s in the eyes of the fans surrounding the scantily-clad cheer girls, it’s in the eyes and hands of intoxicated couples swaying away elsewhere. And yet it’s not seedy. At least it didn’t strike me that way. Perhaps I tell myself that to explain my presence there. It feels like a vibrant open atmosphere.

The rain has stopped play in the second ODI and the covers are on but the sun is beating down hard. It threatens to peel off my skin. I take refuge in iced rum. In West Indies, the drink is light and it’s loaded with ice-cubes. You feel you are licking ice with a bit of alcohol thrown in. I had asked for a double.

The attractive Amanda, a cheer girl, is dancing merrily. She looks around her, a touch shy, and half-shuts her eye-lids as she dances. Constantly, she looks at her fellow dancers and laughs. Men hover around her. The music reaches a crescendo. The girls huddle together and dance.

This is her second match, she says later, at the end of the second game. She is a make-up artist who was approached by a manager to do this jig. Do men trouble her? Does she get conscious? “That is something you have to get accustomed to. I have to be cool. You do have situations. Guys normally try to touch, you know. You have to tell them nicely not to do it. Most understand if you let them know. There is always someone who thinks he can come up to you and pull your hand and what not. But it also can happen when you are walking in the street.”

She hasn’t heard about IPL and its cheerleaders but she says she follows cricket a bit. The directions are clear; every time they play music, she has to just get up and dance. This rain interruption is an exception. The music is always on. So is the sun, though but her sunshields make for a delightful explanation. “You dress very little and drink a lot of booze. You don’t feel the sun.”

I try the latter but it doesn’t work. Don’t worry, I didn’t expose my adipose tissues. The DJ roars out the warnings: “All’yuh people clear the aisles. Else no music.” The music stops for a while and reluctantly people clear. “All’yuh people sitting on the rails, move.” The music stops and people move. He then announces that the umpires have inspected the pitch and cricket will begin soon.

The dancing begins. The swaying, shaking movements begin. "It's a Trini thing, in fact a Caribbean thing," says Amanda. “No one learns it. It's natural. We all know how to dance." Does she go to clubs, considering she dances here so much? "I don't go out that much. I am sure the other girls do."

Time for me to move to the press box. Is this stand, and the happenings there, an unnecessary distraction from the cricket and a sign of a sexist society or is it a harmless fun party atmosphere? I leave it for you to decide.

Sriram Veera is a former staff writer at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • modalone on January 7, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    are you serious?

  • bra massager on August 30, 2011, 3:01 GMT

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  • Sangeeta on June 21, 2011, 23:51 GMT

    I am a bit angry and very disappointed that you a journalist have sought to form an opinion on a topic as sensitive as gender equality in a foreign country based on one experience. I am hoping that it was just a matter of culture shock speaking and that you someday realise that in T&T dancing girls, as with many other things, are not to be defined by external standards. Gender relations are by no means perfect here but females enjoy much freedom and in the end its their choice who are you to judge us? As a female I can assure you that from my view this is not a sexist society, I get to go to school and my identity is not based on my father/brother/husband. I choose to continue past my postgraduate studies and those girls choose their jobs. Just for your information its just a part of our party atmosphere, if anything we are drunk on our freedom!!! That's why we aren't caged in behind wire fencing!!!!

  • Sharon on June 15, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    Not everyone in the Trini posse stand was in a druken stupor. I was with a group of 5 people who enjoyed the atmosphere, the cricket, even if we performed miserably. My group was surrounded by others who were equally enjoying themselves in that cricket-at-the-oval kind of way - a few drinks, loud comments to the players, big cheers at nice cricketing moments, standing at breaks to stretch or take a little dance and just having a relaxed time. Indeed with the rain came a heightened party experience, which I was thankful for- what else to do? And in the Caribbean we have no problem with girating our bottoms - nothing sexist there! But still, I welcome your commentary. I would say that the Digicel Girls (young women), who performed choreographed pieces were far different from the Carib girls (young women) who just seemed somewhat excessive in their behaviour.

  • Nick on June 11, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    As an England fan sitting in the Trini Posse was a high point on our last tour, in the Test and even while taking a beating in the T20. It is unlike anywhere else in the world, or even the Caribbean. It is an infectious party atmosphere, Trinis should and are rightly proud of that. Nowhere do you feel as welcome as a visiting fan as long as you come along with the right attitude, can't wait to go back, long live sweet T&T!

  • Gopal on June 11, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    @OsWood - I agree with you completely.

    I still live in a part of world where women smoking is considered bad and men here make a comment on her while smoking away.

    Live let live, lethem do what they want. Enjoy the beauty if you dont like it dont look at them. Important point is nobody is forced to do that job in carribean!

  • MATHI on June 11, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    All for fun it seems. After all life is to enjoy and they are doing the right thing....... Very enviable sight too. In India people are not even allowed to take Binoculars, Cell phones, eatables etc..inside the ground, leave alone beer and other alcoholic items . much to learn how to enjoy life..............

  • V. Ramsamooj Gosine on June 11, 2011, 2:40 GMT

    Siriram, what you have written is so true of our society. We have been told we are a happy-go-lucky society with a short memory. We laugh at everything but when people laugh at us,we are disappointed, we feel are not liked. They hate us; they are short-sighted. We quarrel today about it but we do not change the style. It is part of our psyche, our culture. However, your comment is noted. If V S Naipaul had written that, sections of society would want to ambush him and their choicest adjectives would flow. And they would remember his harsh criticism of their behaviour for years to come or whenever they want to buy a book. Then too writers write for posterity knowing fully well that the present generation has ceased to listen a long time ago.

  • Al on June 11, 2011, 2:11 GMT

    Imagine if in your culture everyone is really funny, making jokes all the time... visitors love it. So you take a couple of funny guys and start a comedy show for the tourists. Will that be exploitation of the funny guys ? Not for most.

    While dancing in skimpy dresses is not exactly a perfectly similar situation but it's not something that is looked down upon. In the carribean having fun is not a taboo. So getting paid for something you anyway do in your day to day life is not looked down here.

    Let's call it a cultural difference and accept that people are different.

  • Mohamed on June 11, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    i think its a harmful.. this takes a cricket life waste.. try to avoid like this pictures...

  • modalone on January 7, 2012, 19:04 GMT

    are you serious?

  • bra massager on August 30, 2011, 3:01 GMT

    I'm the first time to come blogs.espncricinfo.com and just saying hello. I really love this great site.

    blogs.espncricinfo.com alwasy has good idea. Great web site.

  • Sangeeta on June 21, 2011, 23:51 GMT

    I am a bit angry and very disappointed that you a journalist have sought to form an opinion on a topic as sensitive as gender equality in a foreign country based on one experience. I am hoping that it was just a matter of culture shock speaking and that you someday realise that in T&T dancing girls, as with many other things, are not to be defined by external standards. Gender relations are by no means perfect here but females enjoy much freedom and in the end its their choice who are you to judge us? As a female I can assure you that from my view this is not a sexist society, I get to go to school and my identity is not based on my father/brother/husband. I choose to continue past my postgraduate studies and those girls choose their jobs. Just for your information its just a part of our party atmosphere, if anything we are drunk on our freedom!!! That's why we aren't caged in behind wire fencing!!!!

  • Sharon on June 15, 2011, 14:18 GMT

    Not everyone in the Trini posse stand was in a druken stupor. I was with a group of 5 people who enjoyed the atmosphere, the cricket, even if we performed miserably. My group was surrounded by others who were equally enjoying themselves in that cricket-at-the-oval kind of way - a few drinks, loud comments to the players, big cheers at nice cricketing moments, standing at breaks to stretch or take a little dance and just having a relaxed time. Indeed with the rain came a heightened party experience, which I was thankful for- what else to do? And in the Caribbean we have no problem with girating our bottoms - nothing sexist there! But still, I welcome your commentary. I would say that the Digicel Girls (young women), who performed choreographed pieces were far different from the Carib girls (young women) who just seemed somewhat excessive in their behaviour.

  • Nick on June 11, 2011, 18:51 GMT

    As an England fan sitting in the Trini Posse was a high point on our last tour, in the Test and even while taking a beating in the T20. It is unlike anywhere else in the world, or even the Caribbean. It is an infectious party atmosphere, Trinis should and are rightly proud of that. Nowhere do you feel as welcome as a visiting fan as long as you come along with the right attitude, can't wait to go back, long live sweet T&T!

  • Gopal on June 11, 2011, 10:52 GMT

    @OsWood - I agree with you completely.

    I still live in a part of world where women smoking is considered bad and men here make a comment on her while smoking away.

    Live let live, lethem do what they want. Enjoy the beauty if you dont like it dont look at them. Important point is nobody is forced to do that job in carribean!

  • MATHI on June 11, 2011, 7:30 GMT

    All for fun it seems. After all life is to enjoy and they are doing the right thing....... Very enviable sight too. In India people are not even allowed to take Binoculars, Cell phones, eatables etc..inside the ground, leave alone beer and other alcoholic items . much to learn how to enjoy life..............

  • V. Ramsamooj Gosine on June 11, 2011, 2:40 GMT

    Siriram, what you have written is so true of our society. We have been told we are a happy-go-lucky society with a short memory. We laugh at everything but when people laugh at us,we are disappointed, we feel are not liked. They hate us; they are short-sighted. We quarrel today about it but we do not change the style. It is part of our psyche, our culture. However, your comment is noted. If V S Naipaul had written that, sections of society would want to ambush him and their choicest adjectives would flow. And they would remember his harsh criticism of their behaviour for years to come or whenever they want to buy a book. Then too writers write for posterity knowing fully well that the present generation has ceased to listen a long time ago.

  • Al on June 11, 2011, 2:11 GMT

    Imagine if in your culture everyone is really funny, making jokes all the time... visitors love it. So you take a couple of funny guys and start a comedy show for the tourists. Will that be exploitation of the funny guys ? Not for most.

    While dancing in skimpy dresses is not exactly a perfectly similar situation but it's not something that is looked down upon. In the carribean having fun is not a taboo. So getting paid for something you anyway do in your day to day life is not looked down here.

    Let's call it a cultural difference and accept that people are different.

  • Mohamed on June 11, 2011, 1:08 GMT

    i think its a harmful.. this takes a cricket life waste.. try to avoid like this pictures...

  • DjZiggy on June 11, 2011, 1:01 GMT

    It can't be sexist when girls are willing and even lining up to do it. To be honest, Trini's are naturally like that, we love to party, well most of us at least. The whole Caribbean is like this.

  • Arvind on June 11, 2011, 0:54 GMT

    I did not know see anything sexist in this article. What is the author talking about? These cheer leaders dance and men stare and leer at them and perhaps try to get closer to them- it happens all the time in IPL, it happens in the Windies....

  • Amir on June 11, 2011, 0:25 GMT

    I have no idea whatsoever how you got "sexist society" from your experience. That was just....baffling. Just some guys and girls dancing, having fun and being sexy. That's not evil, especially in societies which are comfortable with the mindset.

  • Saj Mathura on June 11, 2011, 0:11 GMT

    Good observation but please note that Trinidad has all the ingredients for civil disruptions and wars having two major races, many different religions and unequal wealth which have been known to challenge and disrupt many societies and other countries in the world. Therfore, some alcohol, dance and carnival helps in a big way to unite the people of Trinidad and Tobago even though some politicians have tried to divide the people for selfish gain as in other countries.

    And don't forget little Trinidad and Tobago were finalists in the Champions League, so there is also seriousness of purpose when all the partying is over. And we even gave Brian Lara to the world

  • liz on June 10, 2011, 22:01 GMT

    it is not harmless. young girls are exploited by large companies. they are half naked and constantly have an alcoholic drink in their hands.

    only the companies gain at the end of the day.

    the positive aspect of sport is totally sullied

  • SRT_GENIUS on June 10, 2011, 21:16 GMT

    Coming from Indian subcontinent perspective where a kiss in a bollywood movie can bring down the parliament, things bordering on the risque are hard to swallow without a hiccup. The physical expression of youth is abundant in all humans except the eastern part and nature as well - a peacock dancing in rain is nothing else really. Having grown up in India, I can never fully immerse in (even if I don't judge) the free spirit of Caribbean or Florida. At the core the question is are cheerleaders being exploited for their physical attributes ? Well, in some cultures of the world the answer is clear... while in some, the question itself doesn't exist and therefore a yes or no is meaningless.

  • VP on June 10, 2011, 20:40 GMT

    Harmless Fun Banna! This is the way all of the West Indian Countries do it when Cricket is playing. We just don't come out to Cheer our team (even when our team is as "lame" as it is), but we also come out to party! Like I have always said: "Coming out and seeing cricket is an excuse to come out and drink!"

  • romi on June 10, 2011, 18:38 GMT

    funny... he didnt write this for cheer leaders in IPL Hypocrisy or what? I leave it for you to decide.

  • Aj on June 10, 2011, 18:02 GMT

    Oh Common! You are from India where society is much more repressed and sexist and you're finding fault with a culture that is a bit more relaxed. Please!

    FYI - I am Indian and I find you comment on Carribian culture hard to digest.

    thanks, Aj

  • Spo on June 10, 2011, 17:57 GMT

    Not one comment posted so far. So much for "I leave it for you to decide." The Indian domination of Cricinfo seems to have the same effect on the site as the BCCI does on world cricket: a monopoly over policy and expression of opinion.

  • Nish on June 10, 2011, 16:08 GMT

    Well you answered it yourself : "And yet it’s not seedy."

    Whatever you have described has been a part of the cricket experience in the west indies, and it should be left alone.

  • Randy D on June 10, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    A sexist society or harmless fun? Wasn't 20-20 cricket criticized when first introduced, while I believe that true cricket is test cricket, one day and 20-20 matches bring a level of excitement to the game that was missing before when everyone waited 3-4 hours for a wicket or a boundary, and tea time was literally sitting in the dressing room drinking Earl Grey with lemon. As a Trinidadian I support the harmless fun, but as Carib is a major sponsor of local cricket and 'sex sells' they use the girls to promote the product in an environment conducive to both selling beers and having fun, more fun usually leads to more drinks, which is a typical Trini mentality. While there will always be critics, once you experience the Trini Posse Stand during a GOOD One day or 20-20, with a COLD brew in your hand you can never turn back it is a goosebump raising, addictive atmosphere...especially when WI cricket team are actually playing good.

  • RANDY bRIDGEMAN on June 10, 2011, 15:50 GMT

    Wonder what GOD is thinking as He looks down from Heaven at such scenes. Just wonderin'.

  • stephon on June 10, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    welcome to trinidad and tobago ..boom bang if yuh reading dis come for carnival its much better .lol

  • OsWood on June 10, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    Sriram Veera you yourself are from a culture that to this day dictates all facets of a woman's life, from what she should wear, to whom she should marry, to how she should interact with men who aren't in her family. Is your culture's attitude to your own women any more sexist than our Caribbean culture where our women totally dictate their own lives? Our women dress, talk, dance and pretty much do whatever the hell they please. Most Caribbean men like it this way. Is this article purely indicative of your inability to appreciate a culture whose attitude to women is so diametrically opposed to your own? I leave it to you to decide.

  • gio on June 10, 2011, 13:15 GMT

    yeah it really is a Caribbean thing but the trini's & Bajans beat everybody else by a mile lol they really know how to get on bad. the partying atmosphere is one of the major attractions for students from the other islands & the USA looking to get into Universities there either Saint Augustine , Cave Hill campus or St Georges. many Jamaicans parents i know are understandably hesitant about sending them. but its all good fun & i would have to assume that carib beer & digicel have some kind of security in place in case anything gets out of hand. although its unlikely some ppl jus cant hold their liquor & overdo it so they misbehave.

  • P.Satish on June 10, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    Why do you have to leave it to us to decide? Is it too uncomfortable to go to WI and call them a sexist society when half-naked girls are dancing around? It is far easier to see these things said about India especially when HRH Haigh postulates and Cricinfo prints, isn't it?

  • rama_krish on June 10, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    Sririam, it's perfectly normal Caribbean cricket behaviour, so get used to it, my friend - it's wonderful. Actually, the IPL's version of caucasian dancing girls (what a misfit in India) is simply a poor copy of the Caribbean idea that began in Antigua several years ago. With so many d

  • B S Kumar on June 10, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    None of this will be necessary if the West Indies payed electrifying cricket. When they play lousy cricket, without any fire on the ground, anything goes to bring people to the stands!

  • zine on June 10, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    surely the presence of dancers alone is not enough to condemn an entire society? that is foolish

    the IPL has its cheerleaders but you wouldnt criticise india? perhaps because the crowds are caged there and well away.

    besides you answered your own question: alcohol.

  • bala on June 10, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    "sexist"-Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women

    What part of the activities witnessed by the author on the stands qualify as sexist as defined above?

    This is caribbean culture at its best and should be taken as such.

    If anything,if u live a bit in those islands ull realise that the womenfolk are far more liberated and independent than any other country,

    so definitely the word "sexist"is a wrong choice as a headline here

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  • bala on June 10, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    "sexist"-Discrimination based on gender, especially discrimination against women

    What part of the activities witnessed by the author on the stands qualify as sexist as defined above?

    This is caribbean culture at its best and should be taken as such.

    If anything,if u live a bit in those islands ull realise that the womenfolk are far more liberated and independent than any other country,

    so definitely the word "sexist"is a wrong choice as a headline here

  • zine on June 10, 2011, 11:32 GMT

    surely the presence of dancers alone is not enough to condemn an entire society? that is foolish

    the IPL has its cheerleaders but you wouldnt criticise india? perhaps because the crowds are caged there and well away.

    besides you answered your own question: alcohol.

  • B S Kumar on June 10, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    None of this will be necessary if the West Indies payed electrifying cricket. When they play lousy cricket, without any fire on the ground, anything goes to bring people to the stands!

  • rama_krish on June 10, 2011, 12:11 GMT

    Sririam, it's perfectly normal Caribbean cricket behaviour, so get used to it, my friend - it's wonderful. Actually, the IPL's version of caucasian dancing girls (what a misfit in India) is simply a poor copy of the Caribbean idea that began in Antigua several years ago. With so many d

  • P.Satish on June 10, 2011, 13:03 GMT

    Why do you have to leave it to us to decide? Is it too uncomfortable to go to WI and call them a sexist society when half-naked girls are dancing around? It is far easier to see these things said about India especially when HRH Haigh postulates and Cricinfo prints, isn't it?

  • gio on June 10, 2011, 13:15 GMT

    yeah it really is a Caribbean thing but the trini's & Bajans beat everybody else by a mile lol they really know how to get on bad. the partying atmosphere is one of the major attractions for students from the other islands & the USA looking to get into Universities there either Saint Augustine , Cave Hill campus or St Georges. many Jamaicans parents i know are understandably hesitant about sending them. but its all good fun & i would have to assume that carib beer & digicel have some kind of security in place in case anything gets out of hand. although its unlikely some ppl jus cant hold their liquor & overdo it so they misbehave.

  • OsWood on June 10, 2011, 13:24 GMT

    Sriram Veera you yourself are from a culture that to this day dictates all facets of a woman's life, from what she should wear, to whom she should marry, to how she should interact with men who aren't in her family. Is your culture's attitude to your own women any more sexist than our Caribbean culture where our women totally dictate their own lives? Our women dress, talk, dance and pretty much do whatever the hell they please. Most Caribbean men like it this way. Is this article purely indicative of your inability to appreciate a culture whose attitude to women is so diametrically opposed to your own? I leave it to you to decide.

  • stephon on June 10, 2011, 13:38 GMT

    welcome to trinidad and tobago ..boom bang if yuh reading dis come for carnival its much better .lol

  • RANDY bRIDGEMAN on June 10, 2011, 15:50 GMT

    Wonder what GOD is thinking as He looks down from Heaven at such scenes. Just wonderin'.

  • Randy D on June 10, 2011, 16:05 GMT

    A sexist society or harmless fun? Wasn't 20-20 cricket criticized when first introduced, while I believe that true cricket is test cricket, one day and 20-20 matches bring a level of excitement to the game that was missing before when everyone waited 3-4 hours for a wicket or a boundary, and tea time was literally sitting in the dressing room drinking Earl Grey with lemon. As a Trinidadian I support the harmless fun, but as Carib is a major sponsor of local cricket and 'sex sells' they use the girls to promote the product in an environment conducive to both selling beers and having fun, more fun usually leads to more drinks, which is a typical Trini mentality. While there will always be critics, once you experience the Trini Posse Stand during a GOOD One day or 20-20, with a COLD brew in your hand you can never turn back it is a goosebump raising, addictive atmosphere...especially when WI cricket team are actually playing good.