The Year In Review - 2006

Carriers of The Steelband Flag
Steelband Flag Men and Flag Women:
Honorable Mention for The Year

Global - Those steelband people who merit very special mention for the year are the flag bearers of all the world's steelbands - more commonly referred to as the 'flag woman' or 'flag man.'

The role of the Carrier of The Flag is deeply rooted in tradition and history.  It is a special, time-honored position that requires confidence, grace and skill.   When Steel Talks takes a special look at those who carried the flag at this year's 2006 Trinidad & Tobago steelband music panorama, in video and pictures.


Reply by S. F. Thomas on February 17, 2017 at 9:29am

A good question to ask is what really does the flag woman do for the art form?

Obviously she waves a flag identifying the band. On carnival day long ago, she helped to clear the way as well. But I want to submit in this brief essay that there is a deeper, even esoteric, meaning to the flag woman and what she represents.

Note first of all that the flag woman is invariably, well, a woman. Occasionally there is a man in the role, but it never seems right. Somehow it goes against the grain. Why is that?

Note second of all that the flag woman is always overtly sexual in her dress and in her moves. Why is that? Obviously her sexuality does nothing to improve, and even seems sometimes to be a distraction that detracts from the music.

So what's going on here? I want, very tentatively, to suggest that there is an esoteric significance to the flag woman and her role.


At one obvious level, this particular carnival character comes out of the carnival, which in itself is a dance of sex hormones. (Lucifer is in his element with this and God does not approve. But that is another matter that on a societal level may well demand exploration given the societal ills that may be traced to carnival excess, or even carnival per se.)

But at a deeper level, I want to suggest that a good panorama piece parallels good love-making. (God certainly has no problem with that as such; Cf. Song of Solomon.) That may also be why arrangers are almost invariably men. The flag woman is there to symbolize the object of the exercise. A good arrangement must seduce with a good introduction, it must entice with a promise, state a theme, generate the thrill of expectation, and then fulfill. That btw was the compelling essence of "Jam meh up" recently talked about. Smooth is good at that, the pressure/release structure of his music. Bradley was also good at that. He knew how to work with the stops to generate a frenzy. The object, the (flag)woman, responds with delight, -- don't stop! -- awaiting the fulfillment of the desire expressed. The piece carries on, raises the tempo, builds almost to a climax, holds back, releases the pressure. The (flag) woman desires more, urges a repeat. The piece again builds up a pressure, releases it again, teases the woman some more. The woman is urged to a greater desire. And so it carries on. The pressure having been built, there must be a musical resolution, either as a resounding climax, or a gentler one expressing tenderness more than the urgency of a hot passion. Etc.

A successful panorama piece will have these elements, just as a satisfying love-making session. Obviously, even if the skeletal structure remains more or less constant, the variational possibilities are endless, in terms of how the dance of hormones may be fleshed out. Therein lies the essential allure of the art form. The flag woman symbolizes this essence.

The man better knows how to play the man's role in the symbiotic dance, which is why the role of arranger seems better to be occupied by men.

Can a woman also, as arranger, simulate the man's role as well as a man? She after all knows what it's like to be seduced, to be enticed, to yield in that final climax. But can she let herself go and give herself over to what the music demands? Or would the natural demureness of the woman cause her to hold back? I think that's the challenge for the female arrangers. None has yet gone all the way to win a Panorama title, so far as I can recall.

The flag woman is a not so subtle reminder of the woman's role in the symbiotic dance of sex hormones. It is to symbolize the object of desire. The arranger and his music symbolize the taking and the consummation.

Just a thought, for what it's worth.

- Big Sid

P.S. Btw, the female conductor conductor works well. Pat Bishop was excellent in that role. Jeannine Remy did a wonderful job with Invaders, playing "Toco Band", at whatever music festival that was.

Angel Harps Flag Man


Sounds Specialists Flag Man


Pan Parry Flag Woman


Silver Stars Flag Woman


Denyse Plummer - Fonclaire Flag Woman


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