The wait had seemed endless, but now with the earth’s revolution around the sun complete, the day was finally here. Members of the Lawòz society would at last be able to celebrate the feast of St. Rose of Lima.
Groups from Laborie, Dennery, Castries, Choiseul, Belle Vue, Desruisseaux and Monchy congregated at the Minor Basilica of the Immaculate Conception for a mass that would typically begin the day’s celebrations. The church service was attended by the Deputy Governor General, Emsco Remy; Minister for Tourism, Heritage and the Creative Industries, Honourable Lorne Theophilus; Kings and Queens of the eleven (11) participating groups accompanied by their royal entourages as well as members of the Saint Lucian public.
The pomp and pageantry, synonymous with the gwan fèt made it impossible for curious passers-by not to stop and look on in amazement at the spectacle before them. Although mesmerized by the glorious costumes carried so ably by the excited groups, bystanders could not resist taking photos and videos and on occasion moving a limb or two to the sounds of the drums and bahas which led the procession along Laborie and Peynier Streets.
The heavens it appeared, fully endorsed the day’s activities as the sun shone in its magnificence promoting an atmosphere reminiscent of Carnival Monday and Tuesday when visitors and nationals line the city streets to take in the splendour, the colour, the beauty and creativity of a people who unreservedly display elements of their heritage in spectacular fashion. Then as if sensing the need for some cooling from the mid-day sun, a light shower came just as the parade ended. Participants proceeded to the Castries Town Hall where they did some refreshing of their own by reinvigorating their bodies.
The festivities would then move to the Rodney Bay strip between the Baywalk and JQ Malls where the rose in full bloom would be on display. Master of Ceremonies, Gilroy “Ezi” Hall, clearly enamoured by the afternoon’s performances engaged the waiting crowd as they were thoroughly entertained. The days’ activities were preceded by several months of nightly singing rehearsals called “séances”.
The central figure in the séance is the “shantwel” or lead singer who sustains the spirit and tenor of the evening’s entertainment. This was no rehearsal. Far from it! As former calypso monarch of Saint Lucia, Menell Delice proved with an immaculate performance of a Lawòz medley. The Laborie, Grande Riviere Dennery, Castries, Ma Bé Bé, Choiseul #2 and Aux Lyons groups would follow in that spirit with theatrical performances boasting the magnificence of their society. The performances were sautéed with passion and soul, deglazed with dancing and drizzled copiously with singing.
New Starz Dance Company, an enthusiastic group of young men and women presented a contemporary dance piece, incorporating a number of dance styles, using the over-arching Lawòz theme. By this time, the crowd had grown significantly and the atmosphere was electrifying. The Dennery, Belle Vue, Desruisseaux and Monchy groups blew members of the public away with their dynamic portrayals to the extent that now the crowd was joining in the responsorial singing as well as the spontaneous calls to dance and be merry.
The grandeur of such a celebration; a grand feast; a gwan fèt; deserved nothing short of what was offered by Gwan Mouvman. This group of musicians as only they can, dazzled the crowd with their impeccable renditions of Lawòz favourites which had the entire Rodney Bay strip singing and dancing to the sounds of the trumpets, trombone, saxophone and drums.
By all indications, the future of this cultural extravaganza seems safe and secure as exemplified by the full and active participation of such a large number of young people in this year’s festivities.
Wouldn’t it be great if those Lawòz groups as well as La Marguerite groups could lead the Saint Lucia National Carnival Parade on Carnival Monday as of Carnival 2015, together with the French groups in one regional cultural explosion?