Exciting, invigorating, visually orgasmic and energetic, imaginative, entertaining and creative that is a mere description of that thing called JUNKANOO. The Bahamas number one cultural celebration, Junkanoo is undoubtedly both the greatest show on earth, yet the best-kept secret under the sun outside of The Bahamas. This phenomenon, Junkanoo covers many artistic expressions while totally transforming and mesmerizing all of its participants and spectators. If you love music, theatre and dance, Junkanoo is the expression for you, as it encompasses all of these disciplines.
Thousands of Bahamians swarm to the main streets of the capital city of Nassau for the greatest show on earth, a show that will totally place its participants and spectators into a rhythmic trance from the thumping, booming sounds of fifty gallon goat skinned drums, the kalik clanging sounds of metal cow bells to the kaleidoscope of colors that blend so easily into each other to create mystical magnificent works of art.
The creativity of the Bahamian junkanoo artist allows them to transform mere pieces of cardboard into magnificent works of art, art unlike anything anywhere on the planet. Junkanoo art is created in an unassuming space called a ‘shack,’ which in reality are really makeshift art studios that house the creations of Junkanoo. These buildings are usually hidden away from the general population and their members only know their locations. There is only one place in the world where one can go to experience the ancestral rhythms of goat skin drums, and the modern architecture of colorful dancing costumes coupled with the energetic frenzy of an entire nation, that place is Nassau in The Bahamas and the experience is Junkanoo. There is not one household in The Bahamas where there is no Junkanoo affiliation. The parades is celebrated twice a year, on December 26, and January 1, and are major competitions of the island, and is more competitive than any political race or sporting playoff could ever be.
The celebration begins during the bewitching hours under the mysterious cloak of darkness, which increases the energy and the overall mystery surrounding the celebration. At the parade, there is no telling what you will see, you may see life size duplicates of international celebrities, to local politicians or movie or cartoon characters. At every parade, there will be characters or features you recognize no matter which country you are from. During these celebrations one would see an array of enchanting, mythical creatures born out of the imagination of these magnificent self taught artists, as well as life size replicas of creatures in our natural environment that would appear to leap into the atmosphere and out of the parade celebrations.
Junkanoo is a gigantic production with thousands of performers that takes months to perfect and all come together on the big morning to showcase a spectacular much anticipated seemingly flawless show. There are entire sections in the parade that are devoted to just the music of the group, the music section is made up of Brass instruments, bass and rhythm drums made of animal skins and a cow bell section, this section is the thumping heartbeat of the group or the back-line. We then have dancers, whose costumes can weigh from ten pounds to three hundred pounds and they all perform effortlessly for hours in these costumes of color that is as lively as the performances themselves. The music and rhythms of junkanoo are said to be so mesmerizing they have awaked the dead.
Come and experience The Color, The costume, The Mystery, The Energy, The Rhythm and The Dance of …… BAHAMAS JUNKANOO…THE GREATEST SHOW ON EARTH.
By Angelique McKay | Published in Profiles98 Magazine – Issue 2 Fashion Meets Culture December 2009