From behind a corrugated fence the churning beat of the rhythm section cut through the muggy night air. All one had to do was walk in and be transformed. There, in the yard at 112 Veronica Place in Flatbush, the Pagwah j’ouvert band was celebrating the launch of its 2013 presentation “Blue York.”
It was the beginning of the build up to Labor Day morning, when Pagwah will take to the street en masse led by the Something Positve Dance Company.
Sandra Bell compares the experience of playing mas with Pagwah to the original spirit of j’ouvert: “the feeling is magical, everybody grooving to the same beat early in the morning, a relaxed and energized feeling of oneness.”
Close to midnight, in a ritual that goes back to those very origins of j’ouvert, Something Positive dancers in flowing white gowns and traditional mas characters, led by a blue devil jabbing a pitchfork, buxom dame Lorraine, and a jumbie, wove through the crowd.
All eyes then turned to an elevated runway where models in “Blue York” outfits, skirts, tops, dresses and pants marched one by one. Solid fields of royal blue, emblazoned with Blue York Pagwah in white text, a stylish contemporary look completed by headwear, jewelry and body make up also in blue and white. It was easy to imagine the power of the whole band dressed in blue moving in unison J’ouvert morning. Pagwah designer Donna Dove, says she channeled Peter Minshall and the blue devils folkloric roots of j’ouvert.
Like the Indo-Caribbean festival that it takes its name from, Pagwah uses color, to create a cohesiveness, and marchers end the morning blissfully multi-hued.
Registration of the band continues every Friday night at the 112 Veronica Place camp. All are welcome to pass by, see the costumes, photos by Vincent Victor, and listen to live music from SomKina Bakanaal and Village Drums of Freedom and DJs.