Photos/Videos: 2011 Bermuda Gombey Festival

September 12, 2011

Yesterday [Sept.11] City Hall Car Park played host to a festival showcasing one of Bermuda’s most well known traditions, with the 2011 Gombey Festival taking place from 2pm until 6pm. In addition to the Gombey dancers, there were food vendors, gombey-inspired face-painting for kids, local gombey crafts and special performances by stilt-walkers.

The event featured live performances from local Gombey troupes, including Warner Gombey Troupe, Warwick Gombey Troupe, The New Generation Places Gombeys, H&H Gombeys, Roots Gombeys and the Richardson Gombey Troupe.

Gombeys & Stilt walkers perform:

The Gombeys were not always so accepted in society as they are today. Writing for the Smithsonian Institution’s Centre for Folklife and Cultural Heritage, Ronald Lightbourne said: “We know that amongst the measures taken by Bermuda’s Legislature following the 1761 conspiracy to revolt was the banning of Gombey dancing.”

“One surmises that the government feared the decorative Gombey masks, which obscured the performer’s identity, and allowed him to escape political retribution.”

Gombeys perform:

The disdain for the Gombeys continued on well into the next century. In 1837 an editorial in the “Bermuda Gazette” said: “We fully agree with our correspondent that the savage and nonsensical exhibition of the Gumba, practiced here by the idle, should be done away with, as a thing not suited to a civilised Community, and highly dangerous to Passengers on horses or in carriages.”

While the dances and many of the customs remain the same, people’s attitudes changed over the centuries. The Gombeys are now an accepted and well liked part of our culture, and frequently represent the island overseas.

Yesterday, individual Gombey groups had stalls set up showing pictures and answering questions about their group. The different troupes came into a barricaded area one by one to dance for the gathered crowd, while tents and seating were available for seniors and dignitaries. After all troupes had performed, they all congregated back in the performance area where Minister of Community Affairs Michael Weeks presented each group with a certificate.

H&H Gombeys present a plaque:

H&H Gombey Troupe member Kelzine Thompson presented Shawn Caisey with a Hero’s Award plaque, as seen above. He was honored for stepping in as a group leader on the passing of the group’s founding member Lawrence “Stickers” Anderson in 1994. His commitment to encouraging Mr. Anderson’s sons, Zane and Zaniko Hendrickson, to continue in their father’s footsteps was also recognized.

Click photos to enlarge:

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Comments (4)

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  1. gombey fan says:

    no group is the best, but i want to say that H and H stood out from the rest by far. fitness,sharpness,gombey suites was beautiful to see, and entertaining from start to finish!

  2. Graeme Outerbridge says:

    I thought the whole day was GREAT………..I love all the Crowds….The drums are still beating in my head along with the whistles from the Mineral bottles^^

  3. TruthBeTold says:

    Warwick gombeys were awesome also, they had some of the most beautiful costumes I’ve ever seen and they were very creative.


    Although i am an avid Place’s follower,H&H performed exceptionally well yesterday also,LOVE THE GOMBEYS FROM A LITTLE GIRL AND NOW I AM IN MY 50′S OR SO,AND STILL FOLLOWING THEM:) I see i managed to be in some of the colourful photos too…BUT TO ALL THE GROUPS THAT PERFORMED YESTERDAY ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL DISPLAY…LOVE YOU ALL…Thanks to all the sponsors that put this on every year,so glad to see this..keep it going on and on…