Labor Day In Brooklyn!

A Black and Tan Fantasy

Caribbean Queens were Everywhere!

Once again Brooklyn’s beautiful Eastern Parkway was awash in colorfully costumed revelers on Labor Day; it is the biggest annual parade in the USA – although partisans of the Puerto Rican Day Parade dispute this claim.   On this day the Trinidadian tradition of road marches, playing mas and Calypso music is employed to celebrate the cultures of all the English speaking Caribbean.  Its Carnival time in Brooklyn and everybody “jumps up” for the sheer joy it brings.

No matter where I happen to be I make it my business to get back to the Big Apple for the Labor Day bacchanal, a restorative ritual that rejuvenates the Caribbean community through the joy of music and dance, breathes new life into the culture, and cements a sense of community.  It is a colorful and dynamic spectacle that is unique among public events in the US, except for Madi Gras in New Orleans, but is common fare south of the border.

Although Carnival serves many functions, social catharsis chief among them, the display of black bodies and the celebration of their beauty is a major raison deter.  It’s one of the main things that attract revelers of both sexes to the Eastern Parkway “jump up.”

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Miss Panama!

The big event of the day is the road march.  This is where those who dress up in costumes – which the Trinis call “playing Mas’ – stroll through the streets singing Calypso songs, strutting their stuff to the beat and trying to compete for the coveted road march prize.  The judge’s standards are demanding and the competition is fierce.  Groups are graded on costumes, floats and music.

This competition is taken so seriously that the different organizations work and plan all year in order to compete on this very special day.  This kind of serious effort is characteristic of organizations that participate in this public Dionysian ritual.  One need only look at the “Samba Schools” of Brazil or the Mardi Gras clubs in New Orleans in order to witness the intensity of the preparations. And whatever else Carnival may mean it is an opportunity for narcissist of both sexes to display their assets; thus proving a visual feast for those who love eye candy.

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 A powerful Lady


A Tan Beauty

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Bedecked In Gold 

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Golden Peacocks! 


A Chocolate Amazon

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A Fine Round The Way Girl




Text and Photo’s By: Playthell Benjamin



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