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Our Princess Margaret of Quadrille

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Ah got ah call on Sat-dey morning dat Margaret Ince, one ah my dear friends foh over 40 years had passed away. She was ah humble Carib or Garifuna woman from Sandy Bay. Ah staunch Anglican, very active Sunday School teacher and choir leader in her dey-day. She was very much involved in her community and was responsible for keeping de Quadrille alive in Sandy Bay and by extension SVG.

Ah always remember 1977, when John Horne and I got involved in Vincy July Mas. Our bit was to reintroduce ah night of Folklore, ah Vincy Callaloo wid Bum Drum, String Band, Maypole, Quadrille, Bois Bois, Stick Fighting, Monkey Man Kong and so on. We had great fun going around de country trying to find de dormant bits and pieces of Vincentian Traditions. We did not create or reinvent no wheel, de material was all there, dashed aside in ah corner waiting to be retrieved from de cultural ware-house.

Thanks to Louise Millington and Nellie Sprott, ah Girl Guides Leader, the Maypole a.k.a. de Fertility Dance was alive in Kingstown; but dey was no sign of the Quadrille Dance between Rose Hall and Sandy Bay. Ah doh think de average 40-year-ole in town had ever seen Quadrille. So John and I went to Georgetown where Don Sutherland’s Group got ah bunch ah some very ole folks, to show us what dey remembered. De dance lasted ah good 20 minutes, but midway thru, yuh could ah see de Art-right-dis was acting-up. Dey advised us to go to Sandy Bay way de folks, young and ole were actively involved.

Bright Moon-light one Sat-dey night ah made de trip above de Dry River. Whereas in Rose Hall, Hughes “Dadda Hughes” Ogarro’s Group danced to de Bum Drum, in Sandy Bay, dey danced to de String Band led by de Guru, Jonathan “Satan” Ince, one ah de baddest Banjo player SVG ever produced. Up dey ah met de Princess of Quadruille, Margaret Ince. She and Charlie Childs had learned de Quadrille from Matilda Baptiste. Ah got ah strange piece ah Garifuna/Carib Folklore from de folks. Mek ah long story short, dey told me dat when Matilda was ah young teenager, she had ah Spiritual Encounter one evening in Overland Village. There, high day-time she was taught de Quadrille Dance by de Spirits. Ah actually met and spoke to Matilda before she died and ah believe her story.

But Margaret and Charlie Childs had kept de Tradition among young and old alive. So one Thursday evening during Vincy Mas 1977, we brought down de Folks from Sandy Bay, led by Dance Instructor Princess Margaret, dey demonstrate de Quadrille Dance foh us in Kingstown. Victoria Park was ram-jam to capacity, because most of us turned out to see dat unique tradition foh de first time.

Somebody taped de movements and some time after, Jackie Pollard-Jack, ah one-dah-full Dance Instructor at de School for Special Needs, taught de challenged kids, most of whom were mute (deaf’n’dumb), to dance beautiful Quadrille. Watching dem kids going thru de Four Figures was worth ah million dollars. So thanks to de Garifuna Spirits, who taught Matilda Baptiste, who taught Margaret Ince and Charlie Childs, dat year dey was nuff Quadrille at de Nah-shun-all Dance Festival. Dey all looked special doing dey own variations to ah Treasured Tradition. Margaret girl, ah think Charlie waiting up dey foh yuh to come team-up wid him, to dance Quadrille foh St Peter. Just rest peacefully.

AH WELL DESERVED ACCOLADE

Big Up to de Max foh “Accolade 2” ah Special Honour Award event dat took place last Sat-dey Night. Ah great show giving honour to Frankie Mc Intosh, ah Prophet in his own homeland. Frankie Mc Intosh is ah Maestro, he earned it from sharing his skills, his sweat, toil and Humility. He does not Have to piggy-back on his father, another great musician; or his grand-father, George Mc Intosh Nah-shun-all-hero No 2. De Show was ah bit over-packed, justified, however, with de abundance of young talent rich and blossoming. And why not, give de youths ah chance to be wid de Greatest on his Big Night. Even Becket sang like de youthful ABC. His voice was clean and crisp, he was comfortable wid de higher notes, and once again Becket was dancing to de beautiful rhythm of his own music.

Lie-Za loved his Yellow (colour) In-dep-and-dense outfit, she say Becket looked like ah small version of “Big Bird!” Becks is so she rude. And wid dat is gone ah gone again.
One Love Bassy

Bassy Alexander is a land surveyor, folklorist and social commentator.

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