Jan. 2, 2006 – You could hear the "ting a ling" of the triangle and the beat of the bass from blocks away. The flashing blue light of the police car riding slowly down King Street in Frederiksted alerted residents and visitors lining the street of the approach of the annual Quelbe Tramp.
As the Native Rhythm band, perched in the back of an open bed truck, made its way from the Frederiksted Post Office to "Fergusville," the saxophones blended in to carry the beguiling melody of the official music of the Virgin Islands through the air.
There were just a handful of revelers doing a slow two-step to the quelbe beat, but the joy of dancing down the road was evident on every face.
"The is the 'old lady' tramp," said participant Lisa Seperri. "We can dance and then get to bed on time."
Seperri and her friend Nina Cook were clearly enjoying the music.
"We are the groupies. We go everywhere the band goes," Cook said.
About 30 people of all ages and demographics took to the streets behind the band. The tramp began about 8:30 p.m. and took about an hour and a half to wind down at the village entrance. The small crowd danced, twirled and sashayed while hundreds of onlookers smiled and cheered.
Gloria Cooper, sporting a red cloth hat with an upturned brim and a madras shirt, appeared to be the eldest of the revelers.
"I'm 74 years-old," Cooper said flashing a bright smile. "I love anything like this that keeps you moving. Yes!"
On stage in Fergusville the 10 Sleepless Knights were belting out traditional favorites like "Me Dun Dun I Love You" and "A Tin a' Mavis" in that unhurried quelbe beat, which nonetheless had village goers swaying while consuming festival favorites like kalaloo, goat water, conch and the all time village staple – chicken legs and johnny cakes.
With bell shaped madras skirts flying, the St. Croix Heritage Dancers took to the center of the village just below the elevated stage. The group of 12 couples tune-nayed and sashayed, performing the intricate steps of the French inspired quadrille dance led by "caller" Bradley Christian.
Later in the evening the Lashing Dogs quelbe band from St. John entertained the crowd until the wee hours of the morning.
Check the Source frequently for all your 2005-2006 St. Croix Festival highlights. See the complete schedule here.
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