Orin: Your guide to wining responsibly—from an eight-year T&T resident

“[…] The number one complaint I get from women I asked about wining protocol is about men who don’t how to take their one wine and be contented. A wine does not necessarily signify a wish for continuing engagement or a deeper bond—irrespective of vigor, intensity or degree of contact.

“[…] Engagement is sometimes declined from the start. It’s usually with a polite hand held up at about chest height. A kind of stop sign. Sometimes the held-up hand is waved. That’s a definite no…”

The following guest column on local wining protocol was submitted to Wired868 by Orin Gordon, a media and business consultant who can be reached at orin@oringordon.com:

A reveller enjoys herself in Yuma during the 2018 Carnival.
(Copyright Analisa Caruth/Wired868)

This is not a conversation about wining and dining. There’s not a Claret or Zinfandel in sight. There’s a lot of White Oak, El Dorado, Carib and Heineken—and because tastes have become global, Absolut and Hennessy. The health conscious and teetotal (they exist) settle for water, coconut water or juice.

On Carnival Day today, the wining under discussion is the dance movement in which two people rub up against each other, with various degrees of vigor, in time to soca, calypso or dancehall reggae music. In this context, wine is a verb.

Wining has gone abroad, as our Jamaican family would say, and people outside of our countries and diasporas have become familiar with it. Pretty mas revelers in Notting Hill take it out on policemen, who have to remain stoic in the face of the attention.

Revellers enjoy themselves on the road during Carnival 2015. Pan and mas being twins, Carnival behaviours readily transfer to pan occasions
(Copyright Loop TT)

I feel a bit of an outsider when it comes to wining. Rubbing my front against the posterior of a lady I’m not in a relationship with—however lightly, and however much it’s in the spirit of platonic fun with a group of friends—will never stop feeling awkward.

One Friday evening, AP (ante-pandemic) I’m having a post-work wind down Heineken Light at a then-popular bar in Chaguanas. It was the kind of place that affected rustic, but still attracted an MP or two in their signature black Prado.

I’m part of a crowd of professionals who know each other, including Reema, my friend. One or two of the guys would come across to her to take a wine (for all of 30 seconds) and they’d twirl away from each other, laughing and continuing dancing.

Nothing salacious. Sensing that I was hanging back a little, she and one of her women friends promptly put me in a wine sandwich. It was not unpleasant. Or unwelcome, truth be told.

A couple enjoy themselves during San Fernando J’ouvert celebrations on 27 February 2017.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

If you come to this space often, you’d know that freedom and choice are core messages. I’m therefore not going to get into a conversation about whether wining is lewd. Some of it goes there for sure—but in our bar that Friday night, it felt like a cultural expression of dance enjoyment of Soca music. This is the spirit in which I’ll proceed.

As a public service, particularly to visitors to Trinidad and Tobago, I’m providing a brief guide to enjoying this day by engaging in safe and responsible wining. If you feel that you’re familiar with the protocols and don’t need guidance from this resident of eight years, you can leave now. Stay, and hopefully you get something from the conversation.

The number one complaint I get from women I asked about wining protocol is about men who don’t know how to take their one wine and be contented. A wine does not necessarily signify a wish for continuing engagement or a deeper bond—irrespective of vigor, intensity or degree of contact. Some comings-together do get intense, with her torso bent at 90 degrees and even 135 degrees from the upright.

Feters enjoy themselves at the 2019 Tribe Hydrate Wet Fete at the Five Islands Amusement Park on 13 January 2019.
(Copyright Allan V Crane/ CA-Images/ Wired868)

I’m not a fan of the full extreme, but I’m not going to tell consenting adults how to conduct themselves. However, if you must engage in that manner, it’s probably advisable to restrict it to your significant other. In the event that you get such engagement from a new acquaintance, the lady still reserves the right to end the gyrationship.

Engagement is sometimes declined from the start. It’s usually with a polite hand held up at about chest height. A kind of stop sign. Sometimes the held-up hand is waved. That’s a definite no.

There may be an accompanying shake of the head. If she shakes her head and her hand-waving is vigorous, it’s a “hell no”. Move on, and don’t go back.

A no can further be signified by a less polite half-turn away from the approacher. It’s about degrees. A full turn away is emphatic. Always respect refusals. Wine engagement requests shouldn’t be subject to negotiation.

Then Minister of Agriculture Clarence Rambharat enjoys himself during 2017 J’Ouvert celebrations in Rio Claro Carnival.

Learn to recognise when a woman is being rescued from you. Sometimes a girlfriend will intervene by coming up to her and performing a wine on her, in a way that makes clear that you’re not being wine-sandwiched, but phased out. Say your thanks, and leave.

Which brings us to protected circles. Be observant. A protected circle could be a family, and it could include their daughter playing mas for the first time. Your worming your way in there could be as welcome as a loud burp at a dinner table.

Judge couple dynamics. Mas and fired-up fetes are not the place for insecurities. Blaxx was right… no woman (or man, for that matter) wants an owner. Even when engagement is fine within coupledom, keep it brief and don’t up the intensity.

Revellers enjoy themselves during the 2016 J’Ouvert celebrations.
(Courtesy Sean Morrison/Wired868)

Something I found out at fetes is that some women have eyes in the back of their head. The couple is enjoying a stage show, and the man is holding her from behind as they groove. She always knows when another woman gets grindy behind him, and may have an issue with that. However, the road is different.

You’d be right to tell me that we can’t play mas and ‘fraid powder. Faint heart doesn’t win wine-ready lady. And yet, a good rule of thumb for men is generally to yield power of situational decision-making to the woman. The main message is be a good judge of the situation. Enjoy mas, and be safe.

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