“Only Moriah people know how to “Brush Back” with a little flair.”
Those were the words of Keron Proctor, a young man who hails from the community of Moriah.
Proctor is one of the dozens of male and female dancers who don brightly coloured British colonial costumes and dance throughout the streets of Moriah for the annual Ole Time Wedding of the annual Tobago Heritage Festival.
Moriah’s day of the festival immediately follows opening night, which took place at the Shaw Park Cultural Facility on Friday 12, July.
The event is one of the most anticipated in the Tobago Heritage Festival, and takes patrons back to a time when weddings were a community affair for Tobagonians.
Proctor, who said he has been taking part in the event every year since he was about five years old, said he learnt about the dance and wedding traditions from his grandmother. He detailed the various stops in the day’s events.
“It’s like a real wedding with a bride and groom with a large bridal party. After the ceremony there is a procession from the Moriah Moravian church followed by the community centre then the Moriah Recreational grounds.”
He said what makes the event spectacular is the well-synchronised “Brush Back” dance the bridal party does on the route.
“The music played is strictly Tambrin and fiddle and every year we have persons coming in and learning the dance for the event but the dancers from Moriah, we have a certain flair we add. This is because for us it’s more than just a dance you have to take on the whole role and persona of character,” he said.
The procession lasts for several hours but Proctor said the time flies.
“We start to practice three months before the event with the new people because the dance could be intricate because you have to move in time with the music but for us it’s different. Members might fallout or we have different commitments but when its time for Heritage it’s a different story, this event is part of what makes us who we are.”
He said the procession also carries symbols of a real “Ole time Wedding.”
“At the back of the procession we have a lady holding a canister or a kind of chest with two pillows, bed sheets and clothes this means the bride is not leaving home with nothing. There is a next lady balancing the breadfruit on her head is to show that the bride is a virgin and another lady with the coal pot and iron, this shows that the bride can cook and wash,” said Proctor.
True to Tobago culture during the wedding reception at the recreational ground there is a “village macco” who goes to the event to stir up conflict.
According to Proctor, the Moriah community has now formed a traditional dance group, which performs outside of the Tobago Heritage Festival.
Proctor described the Moriah Ole Time Wedding as an experience, that a person must have in their lifetime.