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Music Celebration Guide: What Is Junkanoo?

If you happen to’re planning a visit to the Bahamas, you are likely aware of the importance of their music. In spite of everything, it’s an area well-known for its distinct cultural history.

One cultural event called Junkanoo happens at the tip of December. Junkanoo is a cultural dance and music celebration that takes place between December 26 and January 1st within the Bahamas. 

You will see dance routines, colourful costumes, and celebrations occurring throughout the nights. Here’s some more information on Junkanoo’s background and what it means to Bahamians. 

Junkanoo History and Origins

The origin of the word junkanoo, like most historical topics, is widely disputed. Some theories say it’s named after a neighborhood folk hero, while others think it’s based on a French term describing the masks worn throughout the celebration. 

Whatever the name’s origin, the festival began as early because the
sixteenth century. Slaves were allowed to have a good time with their families at Christmas time. Quite than following European Christmas traditions, they’d have a good time with African dance, music, and costumes. 

Eventually, it will evolve right into a carnival spanning the islands of the Bahamas. 

The festival begins at 1 a.m. on Boxing Day and New 12 months’s Morning. It may even be celebrated during other holidays, comparable to Independence Day. 

Originally, people within the Junkanoo Parade wore easy costumes product of materials available to their economic and social status. This included fringed paper, news paper, cloth, and face paint. In addition they used natural materials comparable to sea sponges and leaves. 

While a lot of the instruments used remain the identical, participants also used conch shells, horns, and Poinciana pods. 

Bahamian Music Celebration

Junkanoo music is a mix of West African drum rhythms, and Caribbean culture. Attend the carnival and you may hear drums, cowbells, whistles, and conch shells and so rather more. The Bahamas is generally known as “The Islands of Song” for a reason.

In actual fact, throughout the early morning hours of Boxing Day, you’ll find Junkanoo bands waking up the streets with music. Among the groups you may hear include the Saxons, the Valley Boys, and the Roots. Lenny Kravitz who has Bahamian roots, can also be an enormous lover of Junkanoo, which helped encourage a few of his music.

Turnquest has been energetic for the past 30 years, plays the saxophone, and has worked to develop the music industry. D’Aguilar has worked as a bassist throughout the USA for 20 years, but he currently runs a youth Jazz band within the Bahamas for kids 8 to 17. 

One among the musical instruments you will encounter during Junkaroo is the goombay drum, which is traditionally made with stretched goatskin over a wood barrel. Chances are you’ll also encounter the Rake’n’Scrape musical style which uses a handsaw scraped with a small object like a screw driver. 

Bahamian music
is always evolving, and the Junkanoo festival celebrates that growth and its reflection of their culture.

Junkanoo Costumes

The unique Junkanoo operated very similar to a masquerade. Slaves covered their faces with a flour paste which later became wire masks held on a stick. Within the late Nineteen Twenties, they covered their bodies with sea sponges and later upgraded to fabric costumes. Eventually, the costumes became fringed with coloured paper.

Women were finally included in Junkanoo parades when Maurene Duvalier joined in together with her dance troupe within the late ’50s. 

Originally, the pinnacle decorations were meant to cover participants’ identities while they celebrated, but over time it became increasingly about self-expression. Costumes lately have boasted vibrant colours, headdresses, and makeup. 

Now when participants parade through the streets, it is a spectacle. People perform dance routines, there are competitions.

Today’s Junkanoo Parade

The fashionable-day Junkanoo festivities have undergone many changes of their lifespan. In current times, you’ll find large brass bands incleded within the parade playing familiar melodies from the caribbean, the U.S. and lots of more cultures.

Several groups take part in this grand parade. Each group is organized into three different categories or sections, musicians, dancers, and costumers. They compete with each other for money prizes and spend all 12 months preparing for the predominant event. 

In 2019, the Valley Boys were named the
unofficial winner of the parade
under multiple major categories. Those included the perfect off-the-shoulder, music, and best Shirley Street performance. 

If you happen to cannot make it to the predominant events, you may also take part celebrations all year long, comparable to Sample Junkanoo every Saturday on Paradise Island. It’s also possible to see Junkanoo-themed art exhibitions year-round at The National Art Gallery of The Bahamas. 

Easy methods to Watch

The Junkanoo Parade begins after midnight and might run until sun-up, or around 10 a.m. the subsequent day. As such, in case you intend to observe it, you’ve to be in the world the night before with the intention to get a seat. Parking will likely be limited, so chances are you’ll need to use a taxi. 

While you may watch the festival at no cost from the side of the road, you’ll need no seating or dependable restroom access for its entire length. As an alternative, you’ve the choice to pay for bleacher seating or balcony access.

The bleachers offer a very good view for anywhere between $30 and $100, but you’ve to assert a seat early in case you want a very good one. Alternatively, private balconies at restaurants are more pricey but have food and drinks menus. 

Have fun the Culture of the Bahamas

One among the most important driving forces for Bahamian culture and the Junkanoo festivities is their music celebration. While the costumers and dancers provide a visible buffet for spectators, the talented musicians help to create an environment of celebration and joy throughout the night for everybody. 

Let the Music Play Bahamas was created to assist develop musicians within the Bahamas and collaborate with other musicians worldwide. If you happen to’d wish to know more about our work,
reach out to us
along with your questions.
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