Batabano brings out thousands


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Calypso and soca – the rhythms that turn a street parade into Carnival – pulsed down West Bay Road Saturday afternoon, as colorfully clad dancers made their way into George Town in the last and main event of the annual Batabano festival. 

Trucks were stacked with speakers, pushing music out to the dancers who followed. 

Forecast rain stayed away for the afternoon as thousands lined the route from Public Beach to Harbour Drive to see the spectacle and join in the dancing. 

Costumes, both skimpy and ornate, in azure blues, vibrant purples, brilliant greens, and sunny yellows and oranges, were topped with elaborate plumed headdresses and backpieces. The dancers, drunk on music and perhaps a little rum, celebrated just for the sake of celebration. 

That idea of celebration was at the top of the mind of perhaps Batabano 2015’s most popular guest, soca legend Machel Montano. On Friday morning, before he played to a packed Camana Bay crowd that night, Montano said spreading the Carnival spirit has become one of his missions in life. “It’s the best of Caribbean culture,” he said. 

He’s headed to the Bahamas next, for Nassau’s Junkanoo Carnival. Despite the day-to-day worries of paying bills and mortgages and everything else, Montano said, “we are here to bring joy.” 

Grammy award winner Angela Hunte traveled with Montano to Cayman, her first time on the island. Best known for her songwriting for the likes of Jay-Z in the U.S., she said she joined Montano’s mission to bring Caribbean music to a global audience. 

“Musically, we have a place in the world,” she said, “and that starts with Carnival.” 

Hunte said she and Montano are traveling through Caribbean countries and want to “help them bring it up to a certain level with Carnival.” 

There was no shortage of Carnival music Saturday, with the party starting at 1 p.m. at Public Beach on Seven Mile Beach and winding its way into George Town where the celebrations continued until midnight. 

Photos by Taneos Ramsay, Stephen Clarke and Maggie Jackson. 

These ‘jumpers’ on Seven Mile Beach get ready to hit the road.