Jan. 2, 2003 – Hundreds of spectators focused their attention on the stage in D.C. Canegata Ballpark on Wednesday night as dancers and musicians combined their talents, blending quelbe with quadrille, and drumming with interpretative African dance.
It was Culture Night at the 2003 Crucian Christmas Festival, and of cultural appreciation there was no question. Some of the performers exuberantly stayed on stage past their scheduled times, starting with Jamesie and the All Stars and running through to Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights and the St. Croix Heritage Dancers. It was 1 a.m. when the dance band of the night, P'Your Passion, took the stage.
Organizers of this year's festival said the event was one of the most popular shows of the years.
Audrey Browne, spokeswoman for the Crucian Christmas Cultural and Festival Organization, said there were some differences in this year's presentation. "Culture Night has been there for the past five years," she said. But this year, after the Heritage Dancers performed, the crowd was invited to join in and dance with them.
Because the show ran later than expected, some members of the Heritage Dancers had to leave to go to work, and some of the seniors in the group had a ride waiting to take them back to the Herbert Griggs Home for the Aged. But the dozen or so who remained gave it their all, including a couple of young men home from college for the holidays.
The men were dressed in madras shirts and the women wore high-peaked head scarves of the same material, their vibrancy running all the way down to their toes — in several cases clad in ankle socks and white sneakers that peeked out under ruffled skirts.
Quadrille, a form of square dance, has traditionally enjoyed a lot of support among young and old on St. Croix, with community dances held throughout the year. Browne said on Culture Night admission us free, and even those of limited means can join in, as can relatives who have moved away but come back home for the annual fete.
As an added attraction at this year's festival, Culture Night brought to the stage the graceful expressions of the Neteru Ensemble, which made its debut performance before a large audience on the opening night of this year's Crucian Festival Village, dubbed "Romneyville."
Five Neteru drummers played drums of different shapes and sizes, some with their hands, others with drumsticks, producing a variety of sounds. As the rhythms resounded, the Neteru dancers performed the Bamboula and other traditional dances from St. Croix's cultural past.
One of the most popular performances of the night was that of the quintessential backup band, Stanley and the Ten Sleepless Knights. Along with veteran players, the group also featured some new, much younger musicians.
Browne said that typified one of the "unseen benefits" of Culture Night: the opportunity to pass Crucian heritage on from one generation to the next.

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