To limbo, but not to limbo – limbo in the Nola

Traditionally, limbo dance began at the lowest possible bar height and the bar was gradually raised, signifying a emergence from death into life. In its adaptation to the world of entertainment, troupes began reversing the traditionally order, and Julia Edwards added a number of features that are now considered standard, such as human ‘bars’, formed by the limbs of other dancers, and the use of fire in the performance of limbo. Limbo dancers generally move and respond to a number of specific Afro-Caribbean drum patterns. As Limbo gained popularity as a tourist activity and a form of entertainment, pop music emerged using Caribbean rhythms to respond to the emerging craze in the United States (one major example is the song “Limbo Rock” recorded by Chubby Checker), from which emerged the popular quote that is associated with limbo that says “How low can you go?”. Limbo was also brought into the mainstream by Trinidadian Calypsonian, Brigo (Samuel Abrahams) with his popular soca song “Limbo Break”.

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Limbo is unofficially considered the national dance of Trinidad and Tobago, which refers to itself as the land of limbo, steelpan (steel drums) and calypso. After a preparatory dance, the dancer prepares and addresses the bar, lowering and leaning back their body while balancing on feet akimbo with knees extended backwards. The dancer is declared “out” and loses the contest if any part of the body touches the stick or pole that they are passing beneath, or if the hands touch the floor. When several dancers compete, they go under the stick in single-file; the stick is gradually lowered until only one dancer, who has not touched either the pole or the floor, remain.

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Rev Giddens Part 2- MLK tribute at old schoolhouse

This brief tribute was given by Rev. Frank Giddens on the AKA Martin Luther King Day of Service remodeling project, at the Old Schoolhouse. He noted the hard times of old and mentioned sacrifice- life often involves sacrifice and suffering to make a better way. He also referenced an old scripture- putting your hands to whatever you were given to do with might.

Not trendy messages to be sure, but sorely needed in many places. Click video to see Giddens’ speech. Above is a picture of he and his wife Essie, the first schoolteacher at the Old Schoolhouse.

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Rev Frank Giddens Part 1 on the old Espanola schoolhouse restoration

The All Kids Are First Old Schoolhouse is a remnant of the days of segregation, but was built with the “sweat equity” of the local community so children could get an education. The desegregation era saw a lot of community institutions, often developed at considerable sacrifice, and sources of pride and achievement, hastily torn down, destroyed and discarded- a fact that still rankles many black communities (Patterson, 2008). It is the first black schoolhouse in Flagler County, Florida, in the town of Espanola. Alone of all the former black schools, only the Espanola Schoolhouse remains.
Click below to watch video of Rev. Giddens speak about the Old Schoolhouse at the AKA King Day of Service, in Espanola – a project to help the restoration effort

It fell into disrepair in the 1970s as community children were shifted to other venues, but over the years, the crumbling structure was slowly rebuilt by Rev. Frank Giddens of the St. Paul’s Baptist Church, whose vision is to create an academic tutoring program, youth center and summer camp for the town’s disadvantaged youth. Rev Giddens also has another attachment to the old building besides history. His wife, Essie Mae Giddens, was the first teacher at the old building, and one of the first black teachers in Flagler County.

Street cleanup – Espanola Florida- All Kids Are First- at AKA Day of Service

Street cleanup by youth of Espanola, Florida- the All Kids Are First Old Espanola Schoolhouse-  as part of the Day of Service- sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chi Delta Omega  Chapter – Flagler County. The main streets, park areas, church grounds were cleaned.  Click to see video below.

Tempers got a bit frayed as the morning wore on, and piles of certain trash were an irritant. But in the end, the job got done. Some youth asked- why bother, if people are just going to trash the place again? It was a good question. My only answer was that regardless of what others do, it was their portion to do something good for the community, and hopefully serve as a better example to follow.

Gardening and beautification of the Old Espanola Schoolhouse.. organics, cow manure and all..

Alpha Kappa Alpha volunteers did marvelous work in planting flowers, shrubs and vegetables to beautify the Old Espanola Schoolhouse-  as part of the Day of Service- sponsored by the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chi Delta Omega  Chapter – Flagler County. The once dour exterior was transformed into an attractive entrance way, and an outside fountain was ringed with fresh, growing plants. Click to see video..

At the side of the building, the 3-section garden plot laid out originally by horticulturalist Raphael Al Kemi was prepped using his light chemical, organic approach. This involved using lots of cow manure, at which some citified youth balked. But AKA volunteers led the way, digging in broccoli and onions. The sterling AKA effort involves not only visual beauty but education as well on the importance of ecology and sustainable organic agriculture. All in all it was a great day for green power.

Apply yourself – PART 2 interview with Sue Fray, President of Alpha Kappa Alpha, Flagler County

PART 2- Brief interview with Sue Fray,  president of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority – Chi Delta Omega  Chapter – Flagler County, Florida on the AKA Martin Luther King Day of Service, at the All Kids are First Old Schoolhouse, Espanola Florida, Jan 21, 2013.

Her message for young people was simple – QUOTE: “Let them know they’re beautiful, they’re smart, they’re intelligent – all you need to do is apply yourself.”