Christmas traditions in the City
The appearance of masquerade bands at the busy street corners in the City is a signal that the Christmas season is upon us.
Mother sally, the flouncers and the skillful long lady around this time of the year would usually mesmerise the attention of shoppers and even those in a hurry to get away from the hustle and bustle.
If you are on Church Street, between Camp and Main Streets, you would have noticed this masquerade band.
They call themselves “the Renegade” and would usually make their way into the city each day all the way from their east coast village of Victoria.
Meet one of the famous characters of the band, ‘Mother Sally’ or as some may know him as Leonel Moore. For this young man being part of the band is something he is proud of even if it means walking the streets with a female wig and dress.
Mother Sally said, “because it is a season to help us recognise it is a holiday and to introduce to others that Guyana is a very nice country and we are here to show you that our village have all sorts of African dances and drums so we can enjoy our festival in our country.”
Moore said he enjoys dancing masquerade during the month of December because it helps to keep the season alive.
“Well, I does be dancing the bam bam role which you call the bam bam sally role I does play…and the band here is the drummers, the stickman on the road there, the flounce man, yah get de long lady, the wild cow and the bird” he explained.
While the group preform in the streets the flouncers would usually collect money from passersby but according to Moore, it is never about the money.
“They does dance to people who does give money, sometimes people order you to play and if they don’t want to give, they don’t give but we just dancing to show up the country that it is a holiday season and we need it to look progressive,” Moore said.
Moore who is self-employed would each year for the last 17 years take time off from his business to be a part of the annual tradition.
The band is also seen on the streets leading up the Guyana’s Republic Anniversary during the month of February.
Like every other preforming art, the group would usually meet for practice at least four hours, three times a week. Overall the band has 24 members.
Research has shown that masquerade bands can be traced back to the days of slavery.
Slave masters found entertainment in allowing their African slaves to play their music and dance which was which was often coded with secret messages.