A sexist society or harmless fun?
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