Wining words: a Trinidad Carnival wining dictionary | Classic | Last word

Carnival time — get ready to wine. Lisa Allen-Agostini offers a vocabulary lesson. Originally published in 2006, this Beat classic was reproduced in the January/February 2019 issue

  • Illustration by Jason Jarvis

When I was a little girl, it was bad form for a middle-class lass to play Brown Girl in the Ring and actually wine when she had to “show them her motion,” as the game instructs. Today, that kind of mild schoolgirl wining is passé. I’ve seen tiny tots wine down to the ground at Carnival time, displaying a wondrous nonchalance to how far we’ve come in just twenty years.

Jamette culture is truly ascendant. The word jamette comes from the patois “diameter,” meaning someone from the fringes, a socially unacceptable person. Well, what’s on the fringes depends on your centre. Wining, which was once jamette behaviour, is not only acceptable now, it’s celebrated.

At Carnival, people of all colours and social strata engage in wining. To wine, if you don’t know, is to move your hips and waist in a “winding” motion, hence the name. The dance is peculiar to calypso, although someone with real skill and dedication could wine to any kind of music.

I have identified roughly twenty terms associated with wining. There are few words in our language, this lilting thing that is Trini, with such versatility. Wining not only has fine and delicate gradations — degrees of wine, as it were — but has come to have particular resonance as a metaphorical act. Wining, in metaphor, is an act of insouciance, of superiority. I didn’t just beat you; I wine in your face.

The actual wine, the thing done typically between a man and a woman, to music, at a party, has come to mean so much more than what it is. How a wine is carried out could portend the start or the end of something, or indicate a person’s stature or lack of it. For, even with the democratisation of jamette culture, a real enthusiastic, no-holds-barred, down-to-the-ground wine reveals you as either an artist or a member of the working class. The converse, the barely-there social wine, marks the pretender to class and status.

You’ll hear these wining terms in calypso and soca (I love when calypsonian David Rudder sings, “She do a dollar wine on the party line”, in the classic “Ballad of Hulsie X”), but increasingly they are creeping into everyday language.

Wine up: to wine vigorously

Wine down: to wine while lowering the bottom to the ground in a squat

Wine around: to wine in a circular motion, or to move around while wining

Tief a wine: to creep up behind or in front of someone and wine on them surreptitiously

Take a wine: to boldly do same

Give (someone) a wine: to allow someone to wine on you; a pity wine

Wine back: to actively participate in a wine initiated by someone else

Wine to (music): self-explanatory

Small wine: a short wine

Hard wine: a particularly vigorous wine, usually on someone

Slow wine: a wine to a slow song, or on every other beat

Sweet wine: a wine that feels good, arousing

Dutty wine: a wine with bad intentions, a true jamette wine, uninhibitedly sexual

Rough wine: wining fast and hard, usually with someone

Social wine: a polite, non-sexual wine, done by someone who either can’t wine well or who wants people to think they’re too high-class to wine well

Stiff wine: an awkward wine lacking the fluidity of spine that characterises a fine wine

Tourist wine: the half-a-beat-out-of-time and amateurish wine practised by tourists who don’t know the art

Dollar wine (after Colin Lucas’s 1991 hit “Dollar”): to wine from left to right, then back to front. The song lyric invites you to put a one-cent piece in your left pocket, five-cent in your right, ten-cent in your back pocket, and a dollar in front under your belt; then you thrust your hips in the following pattern: cent, five-cent, ten-cent, dollar

Wine in time: correct wining, done to the dominant beat of the music

Wine out of time: incorrect wining, done to the offbeat or no beat at all

Walk and wine: in a display of sauciness or impertinence, or overt sexuality, a woman (or man, usually gay) may walk while shaking her bottom

Wine on (someone): to wine against someone, either facing them or from behind

Wine in (someone’s) face: metaphorical. To trounce, to lord it over someone

Wine off (one’s something): to wine so hard that something surely must be broken

Just a wine: Though a wine could mean more, sometimes it is just dancing and nothing else.

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