Island Origins Magazine - Summer 2022

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CONTENTS Summer | 2022









PUBLISHER Calibe Thompson


BRAND STRATEGY David I. Muir BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT Tamara Phlippeaux EDITORS Monique McIntosh Jayme Fraser SENIOR ASSOCIATE Hannah Gulics ART DIRECTOR Vladan Dojcinovic CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Calibe Thompson Rebecca Hugh Steve Bennett Lyndon Nicholas Hannah Gulics Jayme Fraser Annie Burdick Shelah Moody Monique Davis


Calibe’s Prelude:

STYLE & DESIGN 6 The List: Engrained with Style 20 J.Angelique: Opulence 26 Love on the Brain: Swoon Worthy Wedding Design TRAVEL 8 Pieces of Jamaica 10 Celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage this Summer 12 Club Crawl CULTURE 16 Fay-Ann and Bunji: A Soca Love Story 44 In Living Color: Dancehall Art Aesthetic INVEST 31 Money Moves 40 Fe$tival Time is Here 58 Brewing Culture INSPIRATION 32 Celebrating Five Years of Island Origins 36 Moving Mountains: Dr. Solanges Vivens 43 Gang Alternative: Community Enrichment HEALTH & BEAUTY 48 Dance, Sweat, Fete TASTE THE ISLANDS 52 The Sweet Taste of Summer 62 Restaurant Listing ENTERTAINMENT 64 Event Calendar

CONTRIBUTING PHOTOGRAPHERS David I. Muir Yohan Williams Steve Bennett/ Yehudi Walters Kyle Babb TeamDWP Studios by Dwayne Watkins Maybeline Despagne George Horton Maybeline Despagne Ernesto Jimenez Justin Crail Tracey Thorne Yannick Reid Adam Wanliss Blaqmango Matthew Benson KVLmedia Christopher Wright ON THE COVER: Soca power couple Fay-Ann Lyons and Bunji Garlin talk to Island Origins about life, love and the music industry in an issue that celebrates all things fete. Then, in our pages, we examine the elements that make Caribbean events shine, like the cultural phenomenon of dancehall poster art, an elegant approach to high-end event decor and the entrepreneurial platform of large scale festivals. Copyright © 2022 by Island Syndicate. All rights reserved. Island Origins Magazine is published by Island Syndicate. This magazine or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a review. For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator,” at Island Syndicate, 1310 SW 2nd Ct #207, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33312. Printed in the United States of America. Island Origins Magazine ℅ Island Syndicate 1915 NE 45th Street, Suite 107 Fort Lauderdale, FL 33308 417-812-5663 |




Our fifth anniversary! It’s a milestone we’ve been excitedly anticipating, and nervous about at the same time.


ith each issue, I am reminded of how much it means for a community to see reflections of itself making an undeniable impact and being recognized for it in a medium like ours. It is a great pleasure that can also be an intimidating responsibility. Since 2017, we’ve had the opportunity to fete celebrities like Wyclef Jean and Julian Marley, business leaders like Derrick Reckord and Marie McKenzie, changemakers like Food for the Poor and Carla Hill, and more, all who represent the best and brightest of the Caribbean and our diaspora. This magazine started out as a program for the first Taste the Islands Experience event and became a staple because people asked for it. Our running theme has been celebrating Caribbean excellence, and we’ll continue to do that here as well as on our digital platform and social media. During these five years, David and I have expanded our creative efforts, as you will read in the Island Origins story, to include founding Island SPACE, the first Caribbean heritage museum, and offering our services through Island Syndicate to an ever-evolving client base. We have been supported along this journey by legacy team members like Allison Hunte and Carl Momplaisir, our newest partner, Tamara Philippeaux, current team members Hannah Gulics, Monique McIntosh, Jayme Fraser, Vladan Dojcinovic and Daniil Denchik, and our longterm advertisers, including Visit Lauderdale and Grace Foods, both fervent supporters of diversity and uncompromising quality. There’s lots to read in this issue about fete, including the business of it, how to work out to it, where to find it across the Caribbean region, meeting a couture fashion line inspired by it, and how our cover stars, Bunji and Fay-Ann, became its most recognizable couple. I also want to acknowledge some of the people who helped us get to this five-year milestone, including Sonia Morgan, Nikola Lashley, Clover Thompson, G. Wright Muir, Richard Wright, Rebecca Hugh and Steve Bennett. To our newer writers, editors and photographers, to all of you wonderful folks who have allowed us into your minds, homes and offices to share your stories, to our distinguished advertisers, and to our amazing readers and subscribers, we thank you for the difference you’ve made and the support you have given to celebrating our awesome Caribbean American community. Here’s to a bigger and better celebration in the future! #islandorigins




Using natural materials, Jeff Menzies creates instrumental works of art for musicians worldwide. This five-string gourd banjo features a sculpted neck made of wood from the Blue Mahoe tree. $995


Jianbe gives the classic dress watch an unexpected twist with this design, pairing a dark dial with a strap made from Zebra wood and bronzed stainless steel. $120


This handmade wooden tray incorporates imagery of the Aglaonema, a lush flowering plant that dots Jamaica’s gardens. Invoking the island’s flora, the piece is an everyday ode to The Rock’s natural beauty. $25.97


Handmade from 60-year old reclaimed Mora wood, the Beardologist beard comb is not only durable but also allows for effortless grooming. Up your self-care routine with this beard comb to help smooth and soften your bristles. $16.97



Drizzle sweet honey on your toast or in your tea with this handmade honey dripper crafted from Jamaican hardwood. With a distinctive marbleized wood grain, the drizzler is designed to release an even coat of honey. $4



Jamaican designer LaceyAnn Bartley uses 100% Jamaican wood to craft her pieces with a team of artisans. This wooden tea box, for example, is made from Jamaican cedar and features partitions to elegantly display a wide variety of teas. jm $32

Celebrating the beauty of wood, this plate set by the Jamaica-based brand will add organic warmth to any table setting. The natural wood grain gives each plate its own sense of character. bartleysallinwood. $38


Haitian designer Daphnee Karen Floreal merges traditional craftsmanship with contemporary flair to create her eclectic pieces. This geometric statement bracelet is made from layers of wood and bullhorn. $35


Jianbe crafts sustainable, eco-friendly and fashionable watches and straps from natural bamboo and a variety of reclaimed woods. The sporty Crown Cocoa design, for example, contrasts ebony and walnut wood, perfect for any debonair style maven. $85



Fort Charles Bay, St. Elizabeth

Pieces of Jamaica A

s Jamaica celebrates its 60th Anniversary of independence, creatives are conceptualizing commemorative keepsakes to mark the occasion. Acclaimed photographer David I. Muir’s offering is the second volume of his 2012 best selling coffee table book, Pieces of Jamaica. Ten years after Muir released his first collection of images depicting Jamaica through raw, unfiltered photographs of its people, he traveled the island to capture its spirit once again. Pieces of Jamaica: Jamrock Edition is a masterpiece featuring landscapes, places and activities. Muir collaborates with photographer and fine

artist Sean Henry to showcase the island, depicting aspects of the culture that, though beautiful, are not typically published or celebrated. With more than 200 pages of photographs, Pieces of Jamaica: Jamrock Edition tells the story of the island through thematic chapters filled with breathtaking images of natural landscapes, vestiges of colonialism, places of pride, word-class tourism hotspots, the creative spirit manifested and even the hopeful faces of the island’s next generation. Brought to life through the eyes of sons and daughters of Jamaica, this story of “the Rock” also includes archival im-

ages, quotes about the island, patriotic prose and large, immersive visuals of the most familiar Jamaican sights as well as lesser-known gems the artists invite you to explore. Watercolor paintings and line art from Henry dot the book, creating eye-catching visuals that welcome readers to revel in the true beauty of Jamaica’s people and places. Through Muir’s lens and Henry’s brush strokes, the spirit of Jamaica comes alive. The timeless collectible will be available July 2022 at $125 USD with presale discounted prices available in the months before. Custom prints from the books also are available for purchase online.

For additional content, behind-the-scenes photos and videos, and to stay in the know, visit or follow @PiecesofJamaica on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To get in touch with the team, place a bulk order or inquire about a book signing, contact





Celebrating Caribbean-American Heritage this Summer

Guests enjoying coffee in the outdoor patio of 925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s in Fort Lauderdale.


he Greater Fort Lauderdale community encompasses a wide and diverse array of cultures, and this month it’s time to enjoy a multitude of festive fêtes and celebrations in honor of Caribbean-American Heritage Month. Since South Florida is home to one of the larg-


est Caribbean-American communities in the United States, Greater Fort Lauderdale offers a variety of restaurants, nightlife and celebratory experiences throughout the year. From delicious dining to a festive nightlife scene and unique festivals, there’s no doubt you’ll be able to find fun for the whole family to enjoy.

Festivals and Culture


Every year, the City of Tamarac celebrates Caribbean-American Heritage Month at their Family Fun Day event at Waters Edge Park. Bring the entire family to enjoy games, music and delicious bites. From Tamarac during the day to Pompano Beach in the evening, check out the Pompano Caribbean Fest. A live concert featuring Harmonik, one of Haiti’s most popular crossover acts, is just one of the many ways to celebrate the national observance in the area. Another event not to miss is the Caribbean Village Festival Summer Soiree in Fort Lauderdale, showcasing more than 20 dishes from five Caribbean islands, cocktails, music and lots of good vibes. Greater Fort Lauderdale is fortunate to have a strong connection to Caribbean-American heritage. In fact, the area is home to multiple museums and cultural organizations that showcase the significance Caribbean-American immigrants contributed to the growth and development of Broward County. Pay a visit to Island SPACE Caribbean Museum in Plantation to immerse yourself in Caribbean history, heritage and culture. Learn more about all the area has to offer at

Cuba Libre’s full dance floor makes it a favorite for nightlife, often boasting DJs, dancing and tableside salsa shows.

Whether you’re in need of a quick pick-me-up on the way to work or craving those lively Jamaican flavors for your midweek meal, you can find everything from café con leche, conch, roti and oxtail throughout Greater Fort Lauderdale. To start your day, 925 Nuevo’s Cubano’s in Fort Lauderdale is the perfect stop for a Cuban-fueled breakfast of croquetas y cortadito. Islands in the Pines offers colossal helpings of Jamaican favorites to liven up your lunch break. This particular Pembroke Pines hotspot also hosts regular fish fries where you can indulge in familiar Caribbean sides like bammy and conch fritters. Plus, don’t miss Localicious Caribbean Ice Cream with locations in Fort Lauderdale and Miramar. Indulge in their homemade ice cream with unique flavors like rum cake and soursop. For dinner, enjoy an amazing ocean view from Fort Lauderdale beach while savoring Caribbean-American fusion inspired by the multicultural island flavors of South Florida at Steelpan Kitchen & Bar. Your entire meal, from refreshing cocktails to the signature Steelpan coconut shell sundae, are enveloped in spices and flavors. From dinner to a night of dancing on Las Olas Boulevard, you’ll find salsa shows every Friday and Saturday at Cuba Libre Restaurant & Rum Bar, followed by an open dance floor with live music to perfect your moves.


Dining & Nightlife

Island SPACE hosts pop-up exhibits but its permanent stock includes artifacts and cultural relics, like these from Haiti.




Nowhere else on earth embodies the term “party central” quite like the Caribbean.



easons for this are largely rooted in the region’s raucous Carnival celebrations and their attendant fetes. At the same time though, you shouldn’t sleep on the Caribbean club scene. Nightlife options sizzle throughout the West Indies. Here are some of my favorites.

The RAM Vodou Rock Party at Hotel Oloffson.



Drinks are served shaken or stirred at the Marriott Port-au-Prince’s La Sirene Lobby Bar.

Port-au-Prince In my experience, Haiti’s capital is easily among the top two or three nightlife destinations in the Caribbean. This is especially true on Thursday nights. The fun starts in the swanky lobby bar at the Marriott Port-au-Prince, a prime spot to see and be seen while enjoying a Barbancourt cinq étoiles with lime on ice. Next up: La Reserve, a cool and smooth jazzy spot tucked away in a forested area of the upscale enclave of Pétion-Ville. Dinner here comes with live jazz seasoned sweetly with undertones of reggae. Dancing is often part of the dessert. More dancing awaits at Brasserie Quartier Latin. The house band here, Melao Latino, delivers seductive salsa direct from Cuba in a romantic outdoor patio setting that shimmers with flickering candles and festive white twinkle lights. The last stop of the night brings the most fun and excitement. The Thursday night RAM Vodou Rock party at the Hotel Oloffson is one of the Caribbean’s legendary weekly parties. RAM (the band) is the brainchild of Richard A. Morse (R.A.M.). A Puerto Rico-born Haitian-American raised in Connecticut, Morse found his way to the land of his mother’s birth, Haiti, in the late 1980s.

He assumed the lease on the Hotel Oloffson in 1987 and by 1990 RAM was born. RAM Vodou Rock parties have been going ever since. RAM’s musical style was born out of Haiti’s mizik rasin movement, which also started in the late 1980s. The roots style combines traditional Vodou ceremonial music with rock and roll. This has parallels with Ray Charles’ revolutionary method of fusing gospel with rhythm and blues in the 1950s. Just like Ray Charles, RAM’s music compels you to dance. Doing so in Hotel Oloffson’s nineteenth century gothic surroundings just adds to the spellbinding nature of what, for me, is one of the best nights out that you can have in our islands. Enjoying the fullness of the Port-au-Prince nightlife experience is also easier than you might think. Agence Citadelle, one of the oldest and most revered tour operators in Haiti, offers a nightlife tour of Port-au-Prince that includes stops at La Reserve, Quartier Latin and Hotel Oloffson. Experienced guides and full security are always included, of course. For bookings and more details, email




St. Martin & St. Maarten

Live jazz bands at Stachey’s Hut.

The party scene is popping on both sides of the border that separates French St. Martin from its Dutch sister state to the south. But the French side is where I’ve enjoyed most of my nightlife fun. Friday nights are especially sweet for those who make their way to Stachey’s Hut. The informal bar and nightclub doubles as the home of its proprietor, Stachey, who originally hails from Dominica. That little tidbit offers the big reason I love Stachey’s: bush rum. True to his Dominican roots, Stachey offers an array of homemade bush rum creations, each of them uniquely bombastic. He even uses herbs and spices imported directly from Dominica to season his blends, ensuring optimal authenticity. On Fridays, live reggae bands keep the dance floor packed until the wee hours — truly a magical and uniquely West Indian clubbing experience beneath the stars.

On its surface, Martinique might not seem like the kind of destination with a hot, urban club scene. The island is lush and mountainous with sedate seaside fishing villages and even quieter mountain towns dotting its landscape. More than 200 miles of alluring coastline feature jaw-dropping beaches with sand ranging in hue from ebony to volcanic gray and even brilliant white. In the middle of all this quintessential quaintness and natural beauty lies Fort-de-France, Martinique’s bustling capital city. There, amid the gritty streets, partygoers can double their pleasure at Garage Popular 1 and 2. As its name suggests, Garage Popular is basically an old garage in the heart of Fort-de-France that’s been converted into a cozy little bar. Patrons spill out onto the sidewalk and into the street enjoying Bière Lorraine, an assortment of fine rhum agricole options, cocktails and eats. To experience the Garage Popular club scene, though, you need to head a few doors down to Garage Popular 2. The steamy dancefloor here attracts all manner of sexy locals and visitors alike. The soundtrack is a steady stream of international beats with a good dose of soca, dancehall and hip hop thrown in. Prepare to dance close and cozy in an atmosphere that’s all kinds of uninhibited.




The makeshift bar of Garage Popular 1 is a favored hangout spot for delicious hand-crafted drinks and snacking.


Fay-Ann and Bunji:

A SOCA LOVE STORY The couple sits, shoulders touching, as they relate their love story. WRITER LYNDON NICHOLAS PHOTOGRAPHY YEHUDI WALTERS




hen I ask these career achievements to be solo victories. them about the first time “If he wins, I win. If I win, they met, the he wins,” Lyons says. “The woman answers, “He snuwin is going to the same bbed me!” The man shouts house, going to the same into the screen, “No, no, team.“ According to Lyons, the no!” She laughs hard, her couple’s origins can be head vanishing from the traced to her father’s love camera view as rolling for Bunji Garlin: “He’d be, chuckles stream through. She pats his shoulder as they ‘Bunji this, Bunji that.’ He go back and forth, weaving just would not stop talking their story between two about how phenomenal voices, one presence. Many this guy Bunji Garlin was.” people don’t get to see this When they finally met backintimate side of a relationstage at the Hardcore Brass Fay-Ann and Bunji take a casual selfie before their Eye Wide Shut Anguilla show in 2021. ship, much less between Festival in 2001, it was her two musical luminaries. The father, calypsonian Austin couple is none other than Fay-Ann Lyons and Ian “Super Blue” Lyons who introduced them. Garlin Antonio Alvarez, otherwise known as Bunji Garlin. said hello, politely, but quickly disappeared before they’d discussed much. Lyons playfully speculates This is not a conventional love story, and they are that it was because she wasn’t yet famous. “I was not conventional people. this little nobody to him. He thought he was a big Both are soca superstars in their own right. Lyons was the first person to take home the Power, Groovy, shot.” She imitates him posturing in his fashionableand People’s Choice Awards on Trinidad’s Fantastic for-the-time baggy attire. Garlin assures her it was Friday in 2009. She also went on to win the Carnival because he wanted to be respectful of Super Blue, Road March that year, becoming the first soca artwho was, and continues to be, one of his idols for ist to win the genre’s triplet of titles and the only his ability to energize the crowd using his jump-andever to accomplish it while pregnant. Garlin won a wave style of delivery. At the festival, their paths had Soul Train Award for Best International Performance crossed, but it was a missed connection. with the song “Differentology” and a Grammy for his It wasn’t until years later, when Lyons was comcontributions to Skrillex and Diplo’s Grammy-award ing up on the soca scene, that a good broadcast winning Best Dance/Electronic album, Skrillex and connection brought her back on Garlin’s radar. “I Diplo Present Jack Ü. But the duo do not consider heard her on the car radio and I pulled over to lis-

If he wins, I win. If I win, he wins. The win is going to the same house, going to the same team.




We’re going to places where you don’t normally see soca music artists going. Every stage, we are bringing Trinidad and Tobago. MADE AND STYLED BY: NEIL YOUNG MAKEUP: DION SAMUEL

ten to the whole song.” Garlin recounts being amazed, wondering who this artist could be. “She was approaching this like something from hip-hop. It was crazy. There were some guys who had this big radio. They were screaming: ‘Who’s this girl?’ And little did I know I had met her already.” Not long after, Lyons said she got a call from Garlin, who pretended he had actually been trying to reach his sister. Bunji massages his head, smiling and embarrassed. He explains, “I was feeling really bad, I was really trying to call you but I



didn’t know how to say it.” Soon, it was history. They wed in 2006 before welcoming their daughter Syri to the world in 2009. The two came from different backgrounds but shared a love and passion for music initially fostered by their families. Garlin, whose parents are from Saint Lucia and Venezuela, got his first taste of music from his family’s involvement in the church, where he used to play drums in the band. His brothers were also church instrumentalists while his sister was in the choir. His dad was a DJ and had a

sound system. Lyons’ Trinidadian parents are professional musicians — Super Blue, renowned for calypso, and Lynette “Lady Gypsy” Steele, known to command a soca stage. “I had no choice but to hear and see and sing and live everything culture,” Lyons jokes. Both her parents continue to create music independently and in collaboration, and they will often provide feedback on each other’s musical endeavors. Beyond the music, Lyons and Garlin have built their lives around their daughter, now 13 years old. “What she brought

Fay-Ann and Bunji at the 2013 Caribbean Fever Music Festival. PHOTO: COURTESY OF @FAYANNLYONS VIA INSTAGRAM

to our household was purpose, structure and discipline,” says Garlin with a grin. He goes on to recount how, before they had a daughter, they would travel endlessly and only make brief stops at home. It was wild and exciting, but did not result in a grounded state of mind and certainly was not a lifestyle ideal for a child to thrive in. Lyons stresses the importance of creating balance and priorities in her personal and professional relationships, especially as a parent. “I was determined to make the time to be a mom.” She admits that as the daughter of two people in the industry, she knew how chaotic it could be. She didn’t want to “mess up this little human being’s experience of being a kid” and did not want to neglect her career. Garlin, for his part, emphasizes, “You just gotta do it. And it becomes easier when you want to do it.” Lyons smiles and you can see how much joy it brings her to be able to attend their daughter’s school and extracurricular activities. “I didn’t want to bring a child into the world whose school plays I couldn’t sit in front at and clap. It was prioritizing and making sure that when we could be there that both of us showed up, cheered for her and represented for her.” Since coming together artistically, they have influenced each other’s music. “Before, I would dwell on a song,” Lyons shares. One of the first times they went to the studio together, she remembers “he did four songs in one night! I was like, ’What the hell is that?’” Lyons laughs. Garlin explains that he started his career as a competition artist, which meant “all our things were designed for the street, everything had to be off the top of your head.” This gave him a take-no-prisoners approach to writing and recording. “It was Fay that was like you should add dimensions to the music. Where I would be straight and hard to the target, she would help me add more finesse, some shape, color and design.” Together, they’ve grown personally and musically. Fay-Ann admits that many of her biggest hits were written in about five minutes because of what she’s learned from her husband’s approach to songwriting. And they see themselves continuing to grow. “We will be on a whole larger stage in the world of music,” Garlin predicts. “Where? We don’t know yet; that is unpredictable.”

I was determined to make the time to be a mom. I don’t think we started truly living until we had her. Bunji and Fay-Ann with their child, Syri.

Lyons agrees. “What we can say is that we’re not going to be reserved. We’re going to places where you don’t normally see soca music artists going and bringing everything with us. Every stage, we are bringing Trinidad and Tobago.” Both artists talk about the importance of maintaining and promoting their culture, whether the stage they’re performing on is local or international. “My culture to me is such a diverse, beautiful, amazing thing that I strongly believe that we are yet to truly get the world to understand and appreciate,” Lyons said.

Garlin adds, “We Trinidadians always get fed that we shouldn’t hold onto ours as tight as because we want to sell them something, so we should paint it, market it, to make it more accessible. … (But) as small as we are, we are still important in the world. We as a people have made the world focus on something that we’ve created.” And the world seems to be listening. For this superstar couple, it is not just a love for one another, but also for family, music and Trinidadian culture that keeps the pages of their love story turning.








anelle Angelique Forde always had ambitious dreams of a life in fashion. Growing up in Barbados, the influence of style was heavy, but the path to becoming a designer was not an easy one to travel. She describes her success as a progression. As her signature looks and aesthetics evolved, she eventually moved to Trinidad to propel her luxury label forward. Her self-named brand, J.Angelique, has since become a powerhouse known across the Caribbean for ultra-feminine pieces with intricate details and romantic draping. On the foundation of her past work, Forde created the Red Carpet Collection, featuring glamorous Caribbean-inspired outfits for Hollywood’s runway. “I’m very Caribbean proud. To showcase that in my design is really important to me; blending our cultures and letting people see that this is Caribbean style,” she said.

The Red Carpet Collection PHOTOGRAPHY: KYLE BABB Q The Disa Cape Derived from J.Angelique’s own “Orchid” collection, the Disa Cape is an ode to the Disa uniflora, a beautiful pink orchid that demands attention. Cascading feathers incorporate Carnival queen plumes into a bold gown with a simple rope belt that cinches the glittery-pink dress at the waist while drawing the eye to a daringly high leg slit.

The Midnight Pieris Reinterpreting the one-piece suit that launched her career, Forde created this glam, voluminous jumpsuit with glitter-stretch lace and raven-dark feathers. The designer mimics the delicate wings of the Pieris butterfly. “If you look at the butterfly, you would see a black design on their wings that’s very reminiscent of lace,” she explained. 


FEATURE // XXXXXXX The Máxima This handmade and handstitched tulle cape drapes over a vinyl bodycon dress, creating a dramatic contrast between ethereal softness and high gloss. “Opposites create a lot of dynamism,” Forde said. The design subtly references the black latex outfit Giselle Laronde wore at her crowning ceremony in 1986 when she became the first beauty queen from Trinidad and Tobago to win the Miss World pageant.


The Selene The Selene is a golden knockout made entirely of ornate glitter lace. This ultrafemme look was an “explorative design” Forde concocted for an Olympus-themed party. In Greek mythology, Selene was a Titan goddess, inspiring the choice of gold and a Grecian-like draped silhouette complete with a deep over-the-thigh slit.



The Donna Named for the “Queen of Disco” Donna Summer, this full lace dress is adorned with pink feathers and hand-sewn beading complimented by a plunging neckline and high slit to create even more drama.


The best medicine. Jackson Health System wishes a happy Mother’s Day to the ones who always offer the best medicine to help us feel better – love.



wedding. Flowing white gowns and carefully tailored suits, closest friends and family all together, and the beginning of a new life with your chosen partner. It’s undoubtedly one of the biggest events you will ever plan, with daydreams of what the perfect day will look like often beginning to take shape far before you ever meet your spouse-to-be. Though, with countless elements to handle — from venues to flowers, decor, lighting and so much more — it’s important to have a strong coordinator by your side… or to completely take over. A great option is to hire an A-to-Z wedding planner who will manage all of the details of your nup-


tials so all you have to focus on is the big “I do.” Kimberley Dunkley Watkins of Dragonfly Experiences knows this need well. The dynamic businesswoman has established herself as one of Jamaica’s top-rated wedding and event planners, having attracted loyal returning customers and an elite roster of on-call vendors. Quick on her feet and well composed, she is a meticulous planner, often answering questions you didn’t even know to ask, like which desserts work best in various climates.

The ability to hone a creative and artistic style in her pursuit of event planning was initially what drew Watkins to weddings in particular. “I wouldn’t consider myself an event designer, but I’ve always had a fascination with design,” she said. Jamaica itself also lends inspiration and the island plays an essential role as an equally beautiful and challenging backdrop. “Unlike the U.S. where we have a lot of brick-and-mortar locations, Jamaica has a lot of beautiful landscape and so we have to become really creative.”

Janelle & Clint For Janelle and Clint’s wedding, Watkins delivered elegant romance on a budget. To avoid spending a lot on flowers, Watkins let nature take the lead at the ceremony. Under a large tree with sweeping branches, a freeform flower arrangement was constructed with several varieties of florals, including purple, white and orange roses, eucalyptus and lacy-veined anthuriums, among others. Though the ceremony took place at a small alcove, the beachside reception at Prospect Estate in St. Mary was decked out in hues of ivory and gold under an open tent of twinkling string lights and hanging wicker lanterns. And while a pitched tent doesn’t typically scream “elegance,” this one was constructed in such a way that it felt like a whimsical canopy. Watkins and her team also cleverly covered the bulky black wires connecting the string lights by wrapping them with greenery to add to the ethereal garden feeling. “We didn’t want to bring a lot of heavy elements in there. Having the vines really made it a little bit more romantic and softened the look of the light,” she said. Table settings, candles and the couple’s cake followed the gold theme, while the flower centerpieces mimicked the standing ceremony arrangement that was brought inside to act as the bride and groom’s table backdrop.

(Another trick for saving money is to place the bride’s bouquet in a vase to become the centerpiece for the couple’s table.) The couple met on a plane after being seated next to each other on a flight to Jamaica, with Clint traveling for a birthday and Janelle going for work. Watkins helped them include this special memory in their wedding with a photo opportunity for guests, complete with stacked suitcases as well as custom luggage tags that functioned as the seating chart, which attendees were able to take with them as a parting gift.

Though juggling the details of a wedding is bound to trigger some stress, for Watkins, it’s exhilarating to bring a mere concept to fruition. Success manifests as simply as a smile on a client’s face. “For as long as I can remember, I’ve just had a love of people. It’s always been about the people and making sure their moments are memorialized so they have something to cherish for a lifetime,” she explained. “What I realized, especially through COVID, is that life is so fleeting and we really need to treasure all the moments we get to enjoy.” Read on to learn about three full-service projects by Dragonfly Experiences.


Susan & Quasy Susan and Quasy’s big day took place at the elegant cliffside Pattoo Castle in West End, Negril. “They really wanted a very sleek and modern but timeless wedding, so we wanted to go with almost a juxtaposition of the venue,” Watkins explained. The outdoor ceremony featured a standout flower arch cleverly arranged with overflowing white and blush roses, orchids, hydrangeas and pampas grass, but only on one side, offering a stunning focal feature that didn’t take away from the bride and groom or the space. The reception was held in an open air veranda where Watkins added a semi-sheer canopy roof to hold off any potential weather mishaps while also adding an extra touch of delicate romance. The linear space, although cozy, proved a welcome challenge for Watkins. “In terms of the design elements and how to set things up, we really had to be very deliberate.” Five blush, gold and ivory tables dotted the intimate space, with Susan and Quasy’s bride-and-groom table at the front backed by the ceremony’s flower arch. The dance floor was strategically placed in a separate area near the venue’s rocky edge for dreamy dancing under the moonlight. The couple’s modern, marble wedding cake was a favorite collaboration between Watkins and a baker she knew would deliver on both taste and aesthetic.



Meredith & Kyle Also held at Prospect Estate in St. Mary, Meredith and Kyle’s budget-conscious seaside reception offered a timeless ambiance further romanticized by minimal decor, ethereal white floral arrangements and elegant, moody lighting. The two had chosen the sentimental venue to commemorate the happy vacations they had spent there during their 12-year long-distance relationship. The couple wanted a laid back atmosphere, mainly using the location’s natural flora as decor, with only one specific request from Meredith: candles, everywhere. The bride-and-groom’s table was surrounded by floating tea candles amid twinkling string lights and wicker lanterns that gave the reception a cozy yet magical backyard feeling. “The guest list was very small — only around 25 people — and they really wanted to have kind of a dressed-up dinner party vibe,” said Watkins of the aesthetic. “The approach was less is more.” The structureless reception allowed for the lighting to be the star element while hints of simple white, green and classic gold were seen in floral arrangements, the cake and table settings. To see more, follow Watkins at @dragonfly_exp on Instagram or visit



Money Moves Whether it’s helping clients find a forever home or advice on saving for the future, serving the community is something wealth acquisition professionals Kayla Revelus and Ninekema Turenne know well. WRITER HANNAH GULICS PHOTOGRAPY MAYBELINE DESPAGNE


he pair linked arms in 2019 to form The Finance Duo — a group of two wealth acquisition professionals on a mission to close the wealth gap in black and brown communities. Their mission is to teach and inspire millennials to build generational wealth through homeownership and investments. With a combination of more than 15 years in corporate America, Your Trusted Real Estate Advisor and Your Finance Bestie, as they are respectfully self-titled, offers a wide array of services like real estate, home loans, credit restoration, life insurance, individual and business tax filing, marriage planning and wedding design, and have since created a platform to serve their community, specifically underprivileged members, who are in financial need.

Both of Haitian heritage, the duo is specifically focused on closing the wealth gap in minority communities. In these efforts, Revelus has created The Ultimate Homebuying Guide, a detailed, step-by-step guide that is fit for novice or expert alike, and together the duo host various wealthrelated workshops. “We believe that home ownership is a birthright,” Turenne said. “A lot of people don’t own homes because they don’t believe that they can be wealthy. We are there to let them know they can change their family history.” Another focus is on the millennial generation. “We have to properly prepare and equip our millennials so that they know how to not only make money, but grow their money,” Revelus said. “We’re really teaching and providing the resources to build generational wealth.” Their personal investment in clients is

what makes this dream team a true standout. “I will always go above and beyond for my clients because, like a best friend, I truly want to see them become homeowners,” Turenne said. And their former clients turned current friends can attest to this, with Revelus chiming in to gush about people who have found homes through their services now inviting her to dinners within their walls. “It’s really not a transaction-based relationship, or even business, that we’re building. We’re building a family along the journey,” she said. Although their physical office is based in North Miami, the duo travels to nearly any corner of the state of Florida to ensure clients are taken care of. “We are one phone call, email or text away,” Turenne said with a smile. Visit or email




Celebrating Five Years of


This June, Island Origins Magazine proudly celebrates our fifth anniversary. Since 2017, we have been dedicated to sharing powerful stories about leaders and visionaries in the Caribbean and diaspora. To honor this milestone we speak to our founders David I. Muir and Calibe Thompson, reflecting on the origins of this publication. WRITER JAYME FRASER PHOTOGRAPHY VARIOUS


Six of Island Origins eight Florida Magazine Association awards for writing and photography excellence including a Charlie (gold) for Best Writing: Editorial in 2020.


t first, media producer Calibe Thompson and photographer David I. Muir were not looking for long-term business partners. Both are self-assured and fearless, but approach creative endeavors with different flair. Such personalities could easily butt heads or pull apart with divergent visions. Yet, since launching Island Origins Magazine and media agency Island Syndicate, together they have grown far more than they could’ve predicted. “I’ve always been kind of spectacular,” laughs Muir with his signature blend of sincerity and cheek. “But I’m so much more spectacular now as a result of five years of business with Calibe. She’s also been kind of spectacular.” Containing a chuckle behind her smile, Thompson agrees. “When we started this project, for me, it was the first time I was engaging with somebody putting in a similar effort and commitment to what we were doing together.” Neither set out to start a magazine. As Jamaican-Americans circulating around the vibrant Caribbean creative community in South Florida, they had often run into each other at events and had developed mutual respect for each other’s work. They initially only joined forces to convert Thompson’s national public television series, “Taste the Islands,” into a live culinary event held in Fort Lauderdale. For the event program, Thompson wanted to create something with more style and heft than a typical brochure, so they produced a magazine to tell the story of the show. They realized they had something special when people began eagerly inquiring about the next issue. “We’re both unafraid to try things,” says David. “Once the question was asked, we wondered, ‘Can we turn this into a business?’” Thompson adds: “Here we are, eight Florida Magazine Awards later,” including a Charlie (gold) for best editorial writing, and several silvers for writing and photography.

David I. Muir, Calibe Thompson and Julian Marley at The Taste the Islands Experience 2019.



Authentic Voice

Looking Ahead The success of the magazine and other creative projects has expanded their mission toward more ambitious platforms. They developed Caribbean culinary event The Taste the Islands Experience into a popular annual series on Fort Lauderdale’s social calendar. During the pandemic in 2020, they also launched Island SPACE, a nonprofit organization and museum dedicated to creating room for more Caribbean stories as told by Caribbean voices. The museum features a permanent exhibit displaying items from centuries-old artifacts to modern treasures like Jamaican Olympic record-holder Usain Bolt’s track shoes. Their event space also hosts lectures, art exhibitions and important social events from the first in-person meeting of the pandemic period’s Caribbean consular corp to this year’s upcoming emancipation-themed exhibition and program series. “I want it to be a Caribbean version of what they built in Washington, D.C. for the African American community,” explains Thompson about their vision. “Our story is not told in the ways we tell it, except where we are.” Last year, the team behind Island Origins also won a major contract to produce destination magazines called “Explore” for Broward County’s tourism agency. While developing a publication, media agency and museum, Thompson and Muir have had to roll with the punches in navigating new ventures. “We’re not business people. We’re artists who have started some businesses,” says Thompson. “We’re figuring it out as we go along.”

G. Wright Muir, David I. Muir and Calibe Thompson at the Island SPACE Caribbean Museum soft launch.

With this in mind, in 2021, Tamara Philippeaux, founder of a Haitian media company, joined the team to support business development efforts and has since earned a spot as the newest partner at Island Syndicate. Their next steps will focus on further developing their offerings, cultivating committed partnerships with business leaders, engaging more robustly with the community, expanding their social media presence and strengthening their team. “We’re still in that building process,” says Thompson. “But we believe that success really depends on the tribe you build around yourself. And we’re proud of the foundation that we’re laying for the people in our community.”


Though distributed in South Florida, Island Origins transcended its home base, highlighting voices from across the Caribbean global diaspora. From London to Toronto and Havana to Port of Spain, the publication’s culture, business and current events stories feature people whose accomplishments are often overlooked by mainstream media. Luminaries like music icon Wyclef Jean, President Joe Biden’s senior campaign advisor Karen André and Carnival Cruise Line VP Marie McKenzie have graced the covers. And inside, the pages unfold the full breadth of Caribbean experiences from LGBTQ coming-out journeys to Olympians striving through the COVID pandemic toward the 2020 Summer Games to carnival costume designers reimagining mas traditions. The audience expanded even further with the launch of the companion website, Through it all, Muir and Thompson remain in awe of the readers’ support, particularly those from outside the Caribbean community. In the early days, Muir could not believe how quickly a stack of new issues disappeared from the stands. He at first thought someone must be throwing them out, until, first hand, he witnessed person after person picking up copies. While multitasking during an interview, Muir looked out at a wall lined with copies of the covers with pride. The magazines themselves are lovely, but they mean so much to him because of what they signify: their commitment to telling Caribbean stories and doing so well that it was recognized and rewarded. “We’ll do much bigger and greater things in the future,” he said.

An Island Origins reader enjoying the premier issue.



Moving Mountains DR. SOLANGES VIVENS





“Your beginning does not have to define your end.” Dr. Solanges Vivens


r. Solanges Vivens is an author, philanthropist and the founder and CEO of Vital Management Team (VMTLTC) Long Term Care, a multimillion dollar Washington, D.C. nursing home management company that became tremendously successful in both administration and nursing education. She accomplished many firsts in Washington — and even national — healthcare. From growing up in a poor family in Haiti to achieving extraordinary success, Vivens has lived a life most of us would only dream of.

The Lucky One


Throughout her book, “Girls Can Move Mountains: Rewriting the Rules of Female Entrepreneurship,” Vivens looks back on a life riddled with challenges: her humble beginnings as a sickly child in Port-au-Prince, working less-thandesirable jobs and surviving assault as a young immigrant in 1960s New York. Still, she consistently considers herself very fortunate. “I define success as preparation plus opportunity and a little bit of luck,” says Vivens. “Because if you’re not prepared, the opportunity can be right here, and you can’t take advantage of it.” Examples of this approach to life and business abound in her story. As a young woman, Vivens had diligently worked her way to becoming the first Black director of nursing in the Washington Home’s 90-year history, overseeing the entire nursing department. Still, she continued to study, building upon her education and aptitudes. Describing when she faced color and gender prejudice from superiors, Vivens laughs, saying, “I became licensed to do my boss’s job.”

With a degrees and administrative qualifications in hand, her breakthrough opportunity came when she was offered the leading role at another large facility that was, at the time, failing. While others might have declined, Vivens’ faith in her own readiness to excel paid off. Within 90 days of becoming the administrator at the Washington Center for Aging Services, now overseeing the entire enterprise, Vivens had turned the operation around, earning accolades from the government, major media and her peers. Through the company they started together, her early alliance with two white partners made it so that Vivens — a small but statuesque Black, immigrant woman with a strong Haitian accent — could take over an $11 million nursing home administration contract without objection from certain quarters. With her late husband, Keith, Vivens developed the operation to include a staff complement of more than 800. Education, she advises women through her media platforms and mentorship, is key for them to regain their agency. This was why she made sure to provide English language classes for the home health aides, nursing assistants and other employees at VMTLTC – many of them young immigrant women like she was. Her extraordinary success also earned her enemies, but that saga is one you’ll have to read more about in the book, “Girls Can Move Mountains.” A valuable lesson she shares here is this: “No matter what happens to you, you have two decisions: You either act or you react. When you react, you give your power to someone else. All those years, no matter what happened to me, I overcame it because I did not react. I did not let the behavior of others define me.”

When you react, you give your power to someone else. I did not let the behavior of others define me. Dr. Solanges Vivens (back row, far left) as a young girl with her family.




Dr. Vivens with her late husband, Keith.


Visualizing Success

When you are in the valley, you need to know that there is another mountain ahead, so you don’t stay in the valley. Always look to the next peak, to the next mountain. 38

In the 1960s as a young woman in her early 20s, Vivens learned the difference between the haves and the havenots. She was employed as a live-in nanny by a wealthy, young, white family. Enjoying her own bedroom and bathroom for the first time in her life, in a home where others came to cook, clean and even drive, made her feel like a princess. Seeing herself in these prestigious environs gave her the impetus to thrive in business and to strive for excellence, so she could live like this family did one day. From their nurturing arms, she stepped out into her early days in nursing. Over the years, she would climb to the pinnacle of the nursing home industry, running multiple successful facilities and ancillary businesses, speaking as an expert to packed audiences at conferences across the country, and traveling the world for work and play. Following her retirement from the healthcare industry, Vivens is dedicating the next chapter of her life to helping other women realize their full potential. Vivens Media Group produces books, films and podcasts that provide mentorship and empowerment. Her newest print and audio book, “Girls Can Move Mountains,” is an intimate reflection on her colorful life that also shares poignant lessons she learned along the way. Her book urges women to be the authors of their own stories. “Daily, as you live your life, you are making history,” says Vivens. “Make sure whatever you do is what you want your history to be.” Vivens often keeps a turtle pendant tucked close to her heart, whether or not it is visible to others. “In order for the turtle to move forward, the turtle must stick its neck out,” she explains. “And that is what I’ve been doing all my life. From one job to the next, from one school to the next, from one bit of trouble to the next. All my life I’ve been sticking my neck out for something more.” She has found fulfillment in her mentorship work, in her son Kevin, who, until it was sold, had taken the reins at VMTLTC, and, of course, in the carefully cultivated turtlethemed gardens at her former D.C. home and the Florida residence where she now enjoys her retirement part time. Through her media enterprises, she continues to share the lessons she’s learned. “When you are in the valley,” said Vivens, “You need to know that there is another mountain ahead, so you don’t stay in the valley. Always look to the next peak, to the next mountain.”


Fe$tival Time is Here WRITER SHELAH MOODY



Calle Ocho’s neighborhoodwide event was the brainchild of Kiwanis Club of Little Havana in 1978.

Each year, the sights, sounds and scents of summer are brought to vibrant, living color by the Caribbean-American cultural events held across the United States.



rom concerts to food festivals and carnivals, island culture is on full display for a diverse audience. These festivals, however, provide more than just a good time. They serve as major economic engines for a whole ecosystem of entrepreneurs and small businesses.

Calle Ocho Calle Ocho “has become a major economic driver for the area, not only for those small businesses on 8th Street, but for the surrounding community,” said Mayra Hernandez, communications manager for the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana. They estimate the event overall generates an economic impact of $40 million for artists, vendors and small businesses throughout Greater Miami. The greatest financial influence of such events, however, is arguably unquantifiable, as they also develop brand recognition. “We generate a substantial amount of awareness for Little Havana,” Hernandez said. “Everyone knows Calle Ocho. It’s a name recognized on a national level.”


Many of these events emerged from humble beginnings, like in 1978 when members of the Kiwanis Club of Little Havana launched a neighborhood street festival highlighting the rich Cuban-American enclave in Miami known as Calle Ocho. This event would become the massive Carnaval Miami – a packed calendar of attractions that include the Miss Carnaval Miami beauty pageant, popular domino and soccer tournaments, and Carnaval on the Mile. Their marquee event remains the Calle Ocho Music Festival. Attracting more than 500,000 attendees in past years, the festival takes over 15 blocks of Little Havana with concerts, international food stalls and folkloric performances.

The Haitian Compas Festival draws thousands of visitors to Miramar annually.

Haitian Compas Festival Building brand power was the goal of the annual Haitian Compas Festival, which resumed this past May in Miramar, Florida, following a two-year hiatus caused by the COVID pandemic. This year’s event showcased hot Compas music acts such as Master Brain, Black Mayco, Nicky Mixx and Andybeatz. Providing a dependable platform to promote such stars is vital, said Festival Producer Alexandre Ade. Of

the event first established in 1998 to celebrate Haitian Flag Day weekend, he said, “the Haitian Compas Festival has been the go-to event of the year in the Haitian music industry since its inception… We want to help make the music more commercial, and for our artists to be able to expand their horizons.” The event was extraordinarily important this year as Haiti’s national Kanaval

celebrations – usually the biggest stage for Compas musicians – was canceled due to COVID-19 and ongoing economic concerns. “So providing our platform definitely helped the whole Compas music industry,” Ade said. “Especially the musicians that we petitioned to travel here for the first time to perform on U.S. soil. The event has become a staple in their career.”



Festival in Monterey, Calif. She often recruits family members like her husband, Lloyd of the Wailing Souls, to serve customers and uses social media to recruit paid employees and volunteers. She also chooses to camp out instead of booking nearby hotels as they often increase their prices during the season. For her, these careful strategies pay off. “I do not participate in any events with less than 10,000 people,” she said. “I work hard and I pay myself.” However, fellow caterer Alreca Whyte argues the math may not work for everyone. As the owner of Chef Alreca’s Catering, a Caribbean fusion catering and pop-up company based in Alameda, California, she often found the festival circuit prohibitive. “Vending fees, insurance and permitting fees are also costly,” she said. “And many times smaller businesses cannot compete.”

Behind the Scenes

Jamaican guitarist Robert “Dubwise” Browne performing on stage.


The festival circuit is certainly valuable for artists like Robert “Dubwise” Browne, a touring guitarist based in Kingston, Jamaica. He has performed at the popular Caribbean stage show Best of the Best in Miami several times, backing dancehall acts such as Shaggy and Super Cat. He, too, relies on cultural festivals to generate income. When the pandemic caused the cancellation of large events in 2020, Browne’s earnings took a major hit. “In Jamaica, we have a saying, ‘One, one cocoa full basket,’ which simply means every little amount adds up,” he said. “The same applies to these festivals.” Pursuing pop-up opportunities doesn’t come without challenges for vendors as participation often requires large upfront investments. To promote her Caribbean food catering service Strictly Vegan Cuisine, Leonie McDonald, of Jamaica, makes sacrifices to afford pricey vendor spaces at large events like the reggae-centric Caliroots


Front of House

A food vendor at a Florida festival.


Balancing accessibility for vendors and attendees with high production expenses remains a consistent challenge for festival managers. Overhead costs run high, with payments required for permits, city services, utilities and temporary infrastructure. Top-dollar performers also bring big costs for concerts, said Ade. “When you’re taking on 10 to 20 bands, and they have 10 to 18 people on their crew, with flights, hotels and per diem, it all adds up.” Following the pandemic, organizers also faced reduced support from corporate sponsors “because a lot of these corporations are still not back 100%,” Hernandez said. Yet, to those working behind the scenes, festivals are more than a bottom line. For Ade, the Haitian Compas Festival provides a celebratory arena for the Haitian diaspora. “That’s the foundation of what Compas Fest was built on,” he said. “We want our culture to be known and appreciated.” Carnaval Miami also provides funding for Kiwanis Club of Little Havana’s many charitable initiatives, including scholarships and education programs. “And all the events are run by the volunteers dedicating over 15,000 to 20,000 volunteer hours a year,” said Hernandez. “In the end, this is all truly a labor of love.”


Community Enrichment “We exist to save lives.”



hat is the cornerstone of the all-encompassing outreach and social service program Gang Alternative, Inc. (GA). A faith-based community organization serving Miami, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, GA creates positive community change that lasts by putting God first, training servant leaders and promoting good moral character, among other core values. The organization’s success in 2021 stemmed from programs within their five major “Pillars of Service” that found

creative ways to continue despite the global pandemic. And while the results are exceedingly positive, GA is focused more on the individuals than the numbers. “We measure our organization’s success, not by the raw quantitative data. We measure it by the lives we’ve changed…. The lives we’ve saved,” said President and CEO Michael J. Nozile. Last year, the organization served more than 8,000 individuals and nearly 4,000 households, with more than half of those helped being between the ages of 12 and 17. Under the Positive Youth

Development pillar, GA added four new programs, including various after-school services, summer camps, violence intervention, and drug use and abuse prevention. More than 70 youth were diverted from gang involvement and 2,000 others gained essential life skills. Under the Workforce Development pillar, GA helped 76 people find employment. They helped reintegrate nearly 200 people released from jail or prison into the community with occupational skills training, legal support and job placement. Additionally, the organization helped 86 homeless veterans find affordable housing and work. GA also supported women through job training in non-traditional careers like construction work through its EFFECT program. While these jobs often provide stable employment and solid benefits, access to them has been limited for women historically. “I was referred to GA’s EFFECT by my case worker,” said EFFECT participant Lizette B. “At the time, I was homeless, I did not have my high school diploma, and was having difficulty finding a job. I now have stable housing, I am working towards my GED, and I have a more positive outlook on life and what I can accomplish.” Other pillars like Family Strengthening also reported major success: 50 families received funds for emergency housing and food assistance while another 157 families were equipped with care coordination. Through those services, GA provided healthy relationships education to 170 students and traumafocused cognitive behavioral therapy to 86 families. The Community Upliftment and Partnerships pillar saw nearly 50 partnerships with local schools, 11 years of coalition building under the belt of GA’s Urban Partnership Drug Free Community Coalition, and two years of successfully leading collaborative action in Miami-Dade under the Partnership for Success Collaborative of Coalitions, among other achievements. Regardless of which program participants are in, GA’s services often overlap as they adapt to each participant’s needs. The organization’s leaders and volunteers work tirelessly to provide all they can for their community’s success. As for 2022, GA’s focus stays the same: saving lives.






“Fling Yu Shoulda.” Acrylic and ink on cotton rag.


ancehall culture represents more than just the music. The genre originated in the streets, corner bars, and, of course, dance halls of Jamaica. With the parties came the promotional posters — attention-grabbing sheets of street


art stapled to telephone poles, their animated lettering, vibrant colors and playful graphics interwoven into the cityscape. Dancehall art is flourishing in new, innovative ways, as the next wave of creators explores different facets of the distinctive style.

Graphic Evolution


Jamaican party posters drew their popularity, in part, from their accessibility. “It was a way of being out there that everyone could afford,” said sign artist Rushane “Bug” Drummond. As these cultural canvases rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s, artists like Nurse and Denzil “Sassafras” Naar became two of the more popular creators. Known for their graffiti-esque lettering and use of color, they ushered in their own brand of notoriety. Later, as performers like Vybz Kartel became popular in the 2000s and as the dancehall ecosystem continued to evolve, we’ve seen those changes leak over to graphic marketing. Drummond, known for his combination of hand-painted artfulness and prolific production, is among that next generation of creators. Coming from a family of artists, he apprenticed for a respected local one, Allan Thomas, before stepping out on his own. “It shows a culture. It’s blood, sweat and tears,” Drummond said about the importance of the dancehall poster tradition. As we speak via Zoom, I can see his posters pasted to the ceiling behind him like a Sistine Chapel mural, capturing his reverence for the art form and its long history. One reads “ScrubA-Dub Bus Ride” in white and seafoam blue bubble letters. Another one has the word “Flames” in yellow letters dripping into the shape of a lapping blaze. The collage tells a collective story of his work over time. “It’s not a thing that happened overnight,” Drummond said. “Each generation adds to the last.” One of Rushane “Bug Art” Drummond's handmade posters

Making Statements



Multidisciplinary artist Matthew McCarthy revels in the style’s more rebellious side through his street signs, murals and installations. Critiquing social issues that affect dancehall and Jamaica as a whole, from inequity to violence, his designs portray intricately animated lettering spelling out patois phrases and folk idioms. McCarthy, who grew up among carpenters, was drawn to public and street art by the images of independence that surrounded him. “Jamaica had a street art culture, and we weren’t just trying to do it like American culture. It was more that local people were trying to figure out a kind of place in public space.” Plastered on electrical poles, fences and walls, the art had what McCarthy describes as a “DIY punk mentality” inspired by the proximity to Rastafarian counter-establishment ideas. He and other artists help push the boundaries of dancehall culture. “There’s always a point in time where individuals have to break out,” he said.

“There’s No Peace in War” by Matthew McCarthy. Industrial paint on concrete.


Dancehall posters from graphic designer Samantha Hay feature unique typography designs. PHOTO: ADAM WANLISS

With experimentation, dancehall art began to blend with and influence other mediums. As a graphic artist based in Jamaica who specializes in modern hand-lettered designs, Samantha Hay has found herself incorporating dancehall iconography into her work. Though her more minimalist approach primarily focuses




on letters, they never sit still, swirling or vibrating throughout her compositions. “A lot of people don’t realize that Jamaica has had extensive use of typography in our designs for many years,” she points out. “Dancehall posters really show typography as

a unique form.” Hay eagerly adapts this homegrown pop art, despite its historical marginalization within the Jamaican arts community, because for her, nothing quite captures the spirit of Jamaican ingenuity like the language. As one of her designs declares, you must tun yuh han and mek fashun. “We look at what we have and where a lot of people see a lack, for us it inspires innovation,” she says.

Jamaican poster art periodically gains mainstream recognition as an art form. In February, some of Hay’s work premiered at the “Cyah Stall: Dancehall Aesthetics, Language and Resistance” exhibition, which was co-curated by Winston Campbell and Katrina Coombs. They sought to curate artists who were pushing the envelope. “With the increased access to computer technology, we’ve seen more people getting into designs and the aesthetics have been shifting,“ said Campbell, his voice warm with fond memories of weekly dancehall parties from his youth in West Kingston. He notes the influence of outside music cultures, like hip-hop and trap music, and the bling aesthetic. “It’s not so much about the information in a textual way, but the lavish lifestyle, flossing culture, and how to convey that through the imagery and the way that the text is presented,” he said. Coombs sees this evolution as integral to dancehall culture. “It is a rebellious music within our culture,” she said. “They are creative and not limiting themselves; and in terms of how they present themselves to the audience, the sky is the limit.”



The Mainstream and New Media

View of “Cyah Stall” exhibition at CreativSpace in Kingston, Jamaica, 2022.


Robin Clare is one innovator, bringing her dancehallinspired art into the animation space. Originally from Jamaica and now residing in Australia, Clare said that after leaving the island, her art “was, in part, a nostalgic thing. Dancehall takes over your body and your mind, and you kind of want to live in the sound and the moment.” Her work certainly captures that spirit. Like the original hand-drawn party posters, her designs are bright, two-or-three-tone animations with sharp, contrasting colors. GIF animation allows her work to showcase the movements and expressions of dancers mid-action: hips shaking, legs kicking, performing moves straight from the dance floor. She and other artists show a new dimension to dancehall artwork and imagery, using technology and social media to bring dancehall from the streets into cyber spaces. Still, even as dancehall art moves forward, it pays homage to the people that came before. Like the music that inspired it, the art form “is rebellious,” says Campbell. For Clare and the many lovers of this unique aesthetic, it is “a way to stay connected to home.”


“Cleavage Refill.” Acrylic on paper.

Artist Robin Clare’s new-age dancehall posters take iconic symbolism into a new medium with animations that include sharp artwork, contrasting colors and dimension.

“Lawdamercy.” Acrylic on Sommerset cotton rag.



“Bashment.” Acrylic on paper.

“Rude Boy.” Screenprint on paper.



When the flags fly, hips sway and ponytails start to swing doing the dutty wine, you know somebody’s about to get their sweat on. This is not your average workout. WRITER HANNAH GULICS PHOTOGRAPHER VARIOUS



Dance, Sweat, Fete


WUKKOUT! | @wukkout

Based primarily in Brooklyn, New York, Wukkout! is a socainspired dance fitness class founded by Guyanese-Canadian dancer Krista Martins, who sought to bottle that care-free, effervescent feeling of carnival to share in the concrete jungle. The class is a full body workout incorporating choreographed soca moves, including wining, jumping and wukkin’ up. As you move from one song to the next in a 45- or 60-minute class, a mix of high and low impact moves target the core, glutes, quads and hamstrings while improving agility, flexibility and muscle tone. Instructors welcome you to move freely around the room as you feel the rhythm. For Martins, it is important for participants to know that “it’s okay to move your body the way that feels good for you.” No one

is going to be a professional dancer in their first class, but Wukkout! is a judgment-free zone where “you’re going to walk in and be seen for who you are.” Wukkout! has become a personal refuge for many attendees seeking a mental release as much as a workout. “My favorite thing is when I have clients who come up to me and say ‘My doctor wanted me to thank you because I no longer need my blood pressure medication,’ or ‘I was able to get through and grieve my mother’s passing because I was coming to this class.’ Those moments really make it worth it for me,” Martins shared. Because she wants to serve those who don’t typically have access to quality fitness programming, Martins offers both online, live and beachside pop-up classes in New York, Florida, Georgia and the Boston, Massachusetts area. PHOTO: COURTESY OF WUKKOUT!


ith alternative exercise classes becoming increasingly popular, more organizations have created unique and upbeat experiences that blur the lines between fitness and fun. And Caribbean trainers are getting in on the action. By combining cardio with elements of popular music like soca, calypso and Afrobeats, some workouts challenge participants without repetitive, boring routines. Dancing has become a popular form of exercise that includes aerobic and anaerobic movement. Both are necessary for maintaining physical health and, specifically, cardiovascular health. Bonus: Those shakes and shimmies burn more fat than you think! According to research from the University of Brighton and London’s City Academy, 60 minutes of dancing can burn more calories than running or cycling for the same amount of time. Three unique fitness programs offer alternative workouts with a connection to Caribbean culture and mastery in capturing the joy of movement.





Trinidadian Ayanna Lee-Rivears started her dance career early, performing with her aunt’s Caribbean and African dance group as a girl. Later, she was inspired to create a fitness program simplifying those complex moves. Socacize® Fitness dance classes are full-body cardio and strength training workouts, combining traditional dance techniques with simple fitness routines. “Revelers” work out in a variety of playful segments, including a “Bacchanal Warm Up,” “Soca Jam,” “Weights, Wine and Tone,” and “Groovy Stretch.” Socacize® Fitness also offers a two-hour bootcamp, a “Socacize® Kidz” class and a session that incorporates structured weight training to further sculpt and tone muscle. “You can burn up to 1,000 calories an hour,” Lee-Rivears said. “(But) our mission is really to provide a positive impact on our members’ mental health through our FLAUNT philosophy.” FLAUNT stands for feel good, look good, attitude, unleash, nice up yourself, and take time for you. Lee-Rivears said this essential goal of the program provides a space for both wellness and self confidence to soar amid an appreciation of CaribbeanAfrican dance. To become a part of the Socacize® Fitness community, join an online program, attend an in-person class in North York, Canada or apply to become a certified instructor.

KARNIVAL BOUNCE CREW Bounce, sweat, fete. This is the tagline and promise of SocaBounce Fitness, a class started by Carnival-loving twin sisters, Okeemah Henderson and Raakeebah Mann. Neither sister set out to start a fitness business. After Henderson was introduced to rebound boots at a health expo, she wore them to enhance her own workouts. Often used by athletes for rehabilitation after injury, rebound boots are essentially elevated shoes with shock-absorbing springs that allow users to enjoy safe, efficient workouts that burn up to 20% more calories. While preparing for Bahamas Carnival, she wondered what it would be like if her mas group all wore the boots at the event. After a trial class with her sister, the duo launched SocaBounce Fitness with structured classes to prepare participants for Karnival Bounce Crew. “Graduates” take the rebound boots and the moves they’ve learned to the streets of Carnival. Though not dance based, the Soca Bounce Fitness program incorporates vi-



brant, high energy Soca, Caribbean infused and Afrobeats music to keep you fully engaged. The focus is high-intensity interval training targeting the arms, legs, glutes and core in a 45-50 minute class that feels like a party. “It’s just so fun. … You don’t even realize you’re working out,” Henderson said.

In-person studio classes include boot rental and are currently held in South Florida, Washington DC, Maryland and Virginia, as well as online via the sisters’ YouTube page. Register to become a certified instructor under the Soca Bounce brand on the Karnival Bounce Crew website.

MiamiCarnival 2022_Horizontal ad_HR.pdf



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Rachael Findley

MIXOLOGY Q @rachie_themixologist

VITALITY WHAT YOU NEED • 120 milliliters light rum • 80 milliliters mango puree • 80 milliliters guava puree • 60 milliliters lime juice • 40 milliliters banana liqueur • 40 milliliters melon liqueur • 2 teaspoons of grenadine • Cherries and orange wheels, as garnish


WHAT TO DO 1. Separate rum into two 60 ml portions. 2. Add the first portion to a blending cup with ice, mango puree and banana liqueur then blend. Place to the side. 3. Blend the second portion of rum with guava puree and ice. Set aside. 4. Blend the melon liqueur and lime with ice and set aside. 5. Drizzle the teaspoon of grenadine into a glass and layer with the rum and half of the blend of mango and banana liqueur. 6. Add in the melon liqueur and lime blend. 7. Layer some of the rum and guava mixture. Then some of the mango blend. Continue alternating until the glass is full. 8. Garnish with an orange and cherry.



hat is your favorite summer food?” For the Caribbean chef, remembering warm days in the sun and mouth-watering treats evokes the euphoria of street-side fare, ripe fruits picked straight from the tree and “having a lime” with friends. Four culinary experts from across the Caribbean diaspora share details on their favorite childhood summer delights and how they adapted these memorable flavors for a more sophisticated palette.

Born in Grenada but raised in the West Indian neighborhood of Flatbush in Brooklyn, N.Y., Rachael Findley traveled back to the island at 23 to take mixology classes, eventually joining the team at the luxurious Silversands Grenada hotel. With her custom creations, she quickly stacked up the accolades, including recognition at the 2020 Flavors of Grenada Mixology Competitions. “I am most interested not so much in replicating classic cocktails, but instead in creating something new and expanding upon the flavors,” she said. Findley now works for Trois Rivières Cannes Brûlées while growing her personal brand and fostering a tea business on the side. For the award-winning mixologist, the allure of summer always tasted like the season’s selection of tropical fruits. Her Vitality frozen cocktail encapsulates a cornucopia of fruity flavors, featuring mango and guava. It’s the perfect refreshing treat for a day in the summer sun.

BEACHSIDE FISH TACOS For the Soursop “Fish” • 1 tablespoon pink or sea salt •1 medium green (unripe) soursop, sliced into 2 × 5-inch pieces, seeds removed • ½ cup Bajan seasoning or all-purpose seasoning blend • 1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil, plus 1 cup for frying

Taymer Mason

For the Beer Batter • 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour • 2 nori sheets, toasted and crumbled • 1 tablespoon onion powder • 1 tablespoon seasoning salt


• 1 teaspoon black pepper • ½ teaspoon baking powder • 3 tablespoons minced fresh herbs (try a mixture of thyme, parsley and marjoram) • 2 green onions, minced • 2 12-ounce bottles of lager beer For Assembly • 6 soft flour tortillas • 2 cups shredded lettuce • 1 avocado, sliced artfully • 1 cup sliced red cabbage • 1 red onion, thinly sliced • 1 cucumber, chopped

Q @taymermason Bajan chef and author Taymer Mason came to the rescue of vegans craving Caribbean cuisine, which often leans meat- and seafood-centric, with her cookbook “Caribbean Vegan.” First published in 2010, the book has since become the standard for flavorful vegan island fare. Now settled in London, Mason runs multiple businesses with her husband, including a buttermilk vegan pancake line, The Happy Mix Co. For Mason, the summer’s best kept secret is crispy fish fritters. One bite instantly brings her back to childhood Saturday mornings enjoying the savory treat for breakfast. In her youth, her own recipe memorably drew long lines at school fundraisers with many patrons circling back again after their first bite. “As a Caribbean person, it’s almost a right of passage,” laughs Mason. “It’s something in our blood that makes us love this particular fritter. You will be able to smell it in the wind anywhere.” Her new vegan take on the recipe substitutes unripe soursop for fish – a surprising, yet delicious addition to summer tacos. When marinated and cooked, this fruit mimics the texture of white fish. The neutral flavor also makes it the perfect base for seasoning.




WHAT TO DO 1. To make the “fish,” salt the soursop and let stand for 2 hours on the counter. 2. Rinse the soursop and pat dry. Coat with Bajan seasoning and 1 tablespoon of the oil. Leave to marinate overnight or for at least one hour when in a rush. 3. To make the batter, combine the flour, nori, onion powder, season-

ing salt, pepper, baking powder, herbs, green onion and beer. Mix well and allow to stand on the counter for 15 minutes before using. 4. Heat 1 cup of oil in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until hot, about 10 minutes. 5. Dip the seasoned soursop in the batter and carefully place it in the

hot oil. Shallow-fry until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes. The batter should puff up a bit. Fry two pieces at a time. Transfer the cooked soursop to paper towels to drain. 6. To serve, layer the “fish” in the tortillas and add some of the suggested zesty toppings to really sizzle up your vegan tacos!



HIS MAJESTY BOWL WHAT YOU NEED • 2 cups fresh coconut milk • 1 cup veggie stock (optional) • ½ corn on the cob


• 1 ½ cups pumpkin • 1 cup sweet potato • 1 cup coco • 1 cup dasheen • ½ teaspoon cumin • Sea salt or Himalayan salt to taste • 2 cloves garlic • Olive oil • ¼ cup scallion • 2 sprigs fresh thyme

For garnish • ½ tablespoon fresh cilantro, chopped • 1 tablespoon fresh lime or lemon juice • 2 or 3 button mushrooms, sliced • 1 Scotch bonnet or habanero pepper, seeded and sliced

Chef Troy Levy



WHAT TO DO 1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. 2. U sing a large metal spoon, scoop out the seeds of the pumpkin. Use a sharp knife to cut slices of pumpkin, sweet potato, coco and dasheen to 1-inch thick. 3. P lace pumpkin and sweet potato slices on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and rub on both sides. Sprinkle with cumin and Himalayan salt to taste. Add


one clove of garlic to the pan. Roast for 1820 minutes, depending on the thickness of pumpkin slices. (Check doneness after 15 minutes.) 4. G rill fresh corn cobs on the open flame of a stove top or grill. Cool for 10 minutes. With a sharp chef’s knife, cut off the corn kernels. 5. In a medium bowl, combine cilantro, lemon or lime juice, sliced pepper

and a pinch of Himalayan salt (optional). Toss very well and set aside for garnish. 6. In a blender, add roasted pumpkin and sweet potato slices, coconut milk, the unroasted clove of garlic, scallion and thyme. Puree until creamy. Add vegetable stock or more coconut milk as needed for consistency. 7. Serve with a tablespoon of garnish.

Ital cuisine may have its origins in the Rastafari faith, but the style of food prep emphasizing natural, unprocessed ingredients proves equally healthful for all who try it. In addition to running a successful catering service in New York City, Jamaican chef Troy Levy is spreading the delicious gospel of ital cooking, working on his own cookbook to bring these authentic recipes to the world. For Levy, summer couldn’t come fast enough in his youth. He spent many at his family’s large farm in Glengoffe, Jamaica. Run by his Rastafarian uncles, this was where he first fell in love with the unadulterated flavors of the land, from bananas to breadfruit. He particularly reminisces about the spicy pumpkin soup he would enjoy after days by the river. Since becoming a chef, he has adapted the original recipe into an elegant bisque while still paying homage to the natural approach to cooking he learned from his family. He named his version of the dish “His Majesty Bowl” after Haile Selassie, late Emperor of Ethiopia.

• 2 pounds of extra jumbo shrimp without tails, deveined • 1 small mango, ripe • ¼ white or red onion • ¼ red pepper • ¼ green pepper • ¼ yellow pepper • 1 bunch fresh cilantro • 16 medium limes • 2 ounces extra virgin olive oil • Thyme • Bay leaves • Kosher salt, to taste • Pepper, to taste

Chef Danny Peñalo Dominguez DOMINICAN CUISINE

WHAT TO DO: Q @chefdannydr Chef Danny Peñalo Dominguez is the executive chef of Yarumba Restaurant and Lounge in Miami Gardens, Florida. He brings fusion flair to traditional Dominican cuisine, envisioning combinations like snapper stuffed with Thai rice and authentic green plantain mofongo. “Food is one of the most important things when we talk about culture,” Peñalo Dominguez said. “Our food has Spanish, African, Chinese, Lebanese and indigenous Taino influences. I’ve been able to reach a lot of people promoting our gastronomy.” His summers in the Dominican Republic were spent visiting extended family and whipping up delicious dishes in the kitchen. He most looked forward to freshcaught seafood and ripe fruit – especially the iconic Dominican “banilejo” mango. “We had six mango trees around my house, so we had a lot of mangoes,” he laughed. Peñalo Dominguez combines both with his delicious take on a tropical ceviche. He pairs the dish with a classic Dominican “Morir Soñando,” or “Die Dreaming” drink, a refreshing combination of milk and citrus.



Note: Make sure to buy all products fresh and wash them properly. 1. Peel mango and dice small. 2. Cut onions and peppers into small cubes. Reserve everything, including the mango, in the refrigerator. 3. Squeeze all of the limes

and set the juice aside. 4. C ut shrimps in half lengthwise and set aside. 5. In a medium pot, add water, salt, thyme and bay leaves. Bring to a boil. Add shrimp and cook for 30 seconds. Drain then add shrimp to a bowl with ice to chill. 6. W hen the shrimp are

cold, drain all water and any remaining ice. Add the lime juice. Let sit for 5 minutes. 7. Chiffonade (finely slice) the fresh cilantro. 8. Add the remaining ingredients to shrimp, mixing well. 9. Serve with plantain chips and enjoy!

MORIR SOÑANDO (DIE DREAMING) WHAT YOU NEED: • 6 large oranges • 1 ½ cups evaporated milk • 1 tablespoon sugar • ½ teaspoon vanilla extract • 2 limes • 2 cups of ice WHAT TO DO: PHOTO: COURTESY OF DANNY PEÑALO DOMINGUEZ



1. Juice the oranges to produce about 1.5 cups (260ml) of juice. 2. Pour the evaporated milk, sugar, vanilla, orange and lime juice into a pitcher and stir until combined. Add ice and stir to cool. 3. Use an orange wheel to decorate (optional). Serve and enjoy.



MANGO TART WHAT YOU NEED: For the filling • 3 cups diced mangos, ripe but firm • ⅓ to ½ cup light brown sugar • 1 tablespoon lime juice • 1 tablespoon cornstarch and 2 tablespoons of water • 1 teaspoon almond extract


For the crust: • 8 ounces sugar • 1 pound butter at room temperature • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract • 1 teaspoon almond extract • 1 egg • 1 ½ pounds flour • ¼ teaspoon salt • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract WHAT TO DO


tor, unwrap it and place it onto a floured surface. 7. With a rolling pin, roll the dough until it is about ⅛ inch thick. Place into a 10-inch tart pan, trimming excess dough from around the edges. Fill the prepared tart pan with enough of the filling to come almost to the top without overflowing. 8. Cut strips of the remaining dough then use them to cover the top of the tart with a lattice pattern. Trim edges and bake in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes or until golden brown. For muffin- or minisized tarts, reduce baking time to 10 to 15 minutes. 9. Cool the tart completely then remove from the pan and enjoy! Q @ganachebakerywpb


1. To make the dough for the crust, cream together the sugar and butter. Add eggs and extracts, and mix until combined. 2. Add salt and flour, and mix just until combined. 3. Place the dough in plastic wrap and press until fairly flat. Refrigerate for a few hours to chill. Working with a cold dough works best. 4. To make the filling, combine the sugar, mango, lime juice, cornstarch and water in a small pot. Stir well and cook on medium heat until mixture thickens. 5. Remove from heat then stir in the extracts. Set filling aside to cool. 6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove dough from the refrigera-


Jamal Lake

For pastry chef Jamal Lake, food always tells a story. “When you try someone’s food, you understand where they’re from and what they passed down for generations,” said the native U.S. Virgin Islander, who originally fell in love with sweets while baking alongside his mom every Sunday. After moving to West Palm Beach, Florida, Lake opened Ganache Bakery in 2011 with his wife Nishanee, creating cupcakes, tarts, macaroons and custom cakes. In 2018, he found more sweet success after becoming a finalist on Food Network’s “Halloween Baking Championship,” attracting acclaim for his raspberry passion fruit petit fours and green velvet cakes. After the show, Lake continued creating unique concoctions. Lake treasures the warm summer days he once spent in the U.S. Virgin Islands enjoying freshly-picked fruits. The season’s most desirable treat was always a succulent mango. “We made mango juice, spicy mango curry, mango salad with herbs and sometimes we got creative and even made mango tarts.” Lake’s own mango tart recipe incorporates fresh, ripe mangoes and citrus layered within flaky homemade pastry.

Brewing Culture



Around the world, the Caribbean is recognized as the birthplace of rum. But there is another distinctive form of booze in the region beloved by visitors and locals alike – beer.



Local beers finally emerged in the late 1800s when R. Crang opened his first ale and porter brewery in Kingston, Jamaica. Others would soon follow suit, growing into today’s most prominent brands: Jamaica’s Red Stripe, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carib Beer and the Dominican Republic’s Presidente. Cooling palms and quenching thirst around the world, these brands established the international flavor profile of a classic Caribbean beer: often a pale, smooth, softly sweet lager or pilsner. Their mild, refreshing taste pairs well with Caribbean eats from fresh seafood to heavy

One of the biggest initiatives for us is to mine that Caribbean pride and use that brand that we so dearly represent to connect with the diaspora. Asa Sealy, Trinidad and Tobago’s Carib Brewery USA


The Major Players

stews. On a more fundamental level, these beers seem to distill the romance of the region, promising sunshine and good times. It’s the beer you want to drink after climbing to the top of Dunn’s River Falls in Jamaica or chipping down the streets in full carnival regalia in Trinidad. Carib Beer understands this nostalgic power — its iconic gold-and-blue bottle connoting Caribbean waters and yearround sunshine. Celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, the brand is determined to share this spirit across the diaspora. “If you can’t make it to the Caribbean, we’ll bring the Caribbean to you,” said Carib Brewery USA President and CEO James Webb. Asa Sealy, marketing director at Carib Brewery USA, said familiarity is a huge seller. “So much of our population has migrated from the Caribbean region, and they long for those products that bring them back to home,” he explained. “One of the biggest initiatives for us is to mine that Caribbean pride and use that brand that we so dearly represent to connect with the diaspora.”

The Next Generation Trinidad and Tobago's most popular brew, Carib beer.


rom crisp, ice-cold lagers offering relief from the hot sun to dark malty stouts spicing up punch and Easter bun, regional beers are inextricably linked with Caribbean life. It seems every Caribbean country boasts its own native brew. Aruba has the multi-award winning all-malt Pilsener Balashi, Haiti favors their own Prestige lager, and the domestically produced Belikin dominates Belize. This love affair with beer didn’t happen overnight. Records show British beer was a staple for sailors traveling through the Caribbean in the 1600s, though it was prone to spoil. In 1801, Guinness began crafting a sweet West Indies porter infused with extra hops so the flavor would survive the arduous five-week voyage across the Atlantic.

Jamaica’s Red Stripe beer has arguably become a cultural icon.

Alongside these titans, however, something else is quietly brewing. You can taste the future of Caribbean beer while sitting on the veranda of the Constant Spring Golf & Country Club clubhouse in Kingston, Jamaica. Here, patrons enjoy a local craft offering that can’t be found in corner shops, supermarkets or typical tourist haunts. Delightful and complex new flavors flow from the gleaming distillery pots of the Clubhouse Brewery – one of Jamaica’s first craft breweries. As the largest of its kind in Jamaica, Clubhouse Brewery serves 17 varieties, including IPAs, hoppy lagers, pilsners, amber ales, porters and stouts from its taps. Among them is the signature Blue Mountain Coffee Porter, which features a caffeinated kick. The brewery was founded in 2021 by brewmaster Devon Francis, who boasts a 25-year career working in Jamaica, Uganda, Kenya, The Seychelles and Germany. He’s the mastermind behind recent innovations at Red Stripe, from developing the popular Red Stripe Sorrel and Lemon Paradise beers to adding cassava to the brewing process in an effort to support local small farmers.



A number of microbreweries are popping up around Jamaica’s capital, in Kingston and St. Andrew.

industry with seminars and mixology sessions, 20 beer samplings and multiple food pairing stations. The emergence of a number of microbreweries is spurring this consistent growth. A home brewing hobby snowballed into a brand for one exhibitor, Christian Sale, founder and head brewer of Kingston-

Hop Steppa is a favorite among customers of the brand Trouble's Brewing!!, which operates in Kingston, Jamaica


based Trouble’s Brewing!! His interest ignited following a 2017 trip to Belgium. “But the biggest spark came when we were invited to Oktoberfest Kingston in 2019, and we sold out all of our beer four hours into an eight-hour event,” he said. “Other brands of beer were there, including some imports, but the line was only at our booth.” His most popular brews include Hop Steppa, a copper-colored IPA featuring pronounced, yet rounded, citrus, bitter and fruity notes. Another favorite is Shine Eye Gyal, a blonde ale with a layered, balanced maltiness accompanied by a subtle earthy hop character. The best part, said Sale, “is getting to serve beer and interacting with other beer lovers.” Caribbean beer’s real secret ingredient? “It’s the people,” asserts Francis. “The people are central in crafting the environment that makes our beer unique.” Between the new craft breweries and stalwart brands, it’s clear they are ready to serve up experiences that are refreshing, relaxing and completely Caribbean.


Francis asserts that our home-bred concoctions are more robustly flavored than popular counterparts from the north. Compared to Budweiser, Miller and Coors, he said beers “like Red Stripe are definitely more flavorful than the standard American beers. Budweiser uses 50% rice in the brewing, so it is very, very watery.” (And yes, watery is a technical term used to describe beer.) Despite this stellar reputation, Francis believes it’s time for Caribbean brewmasters to serve up new, bold experiences. “Consumers are searching for more,” Francis said as he sipped beer in the balmy evening air. “There is a part of the demographic who actually want that hoppier, more flavorful exotic beer. For years, they have been fed a standard diet of Red Stripe and Heineken. But the young millennials coming up latched onto craft beer because of its range.” You could witness this demand first hand this past April when 350 patrons packed into the Jamaica Food and Drink Kitchen for the Kingston City Beer Fest. The events celebrated the growing beer

The young millennials coming up latched onto craft beer because of its range. Devon Francis, Brewmaster at Jamaica's Clubhouse Brewery



LISTING IN SOUTH FLORIDA 925 NUEVO’S CUBANO’S | $ Cuban Serving succulent roast pork and delicious sandwiches. 925 N. Andrews Ave., Fort

Lauderdale 9

ALBERTE’S RESTAURANT I $$ Haitian Unique and authentic Caribbean dishes with live music on Fridays and Saturdays. 1201 N.E. 38th St., Oakland


ALEXSANDRA’S CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT| $$ Caribbean, Jamaican Soak up some sun while enjoying their famous jerk chicken sandwich and patties.

7836 N.W. 44th St., Sunrise b

BOHIO LATIN FLAVORS | $ Dominican, Latin, Caribbean Family-style restaurant offering music, mofongo, shrimp and dancing. 2181 State Road 7, Margate

BUTTER FLAKES BAKERY & GRILL | $ Jamaican Local spot for patties and hot food.

5100 W. Commercial Blvd.


#3 & 4, Tamarac b utter-flakes-bakery-grill.

ALI’S ROTI SHOP | $ Caribbean, Indian, Vegetarian Trinidadian mom and pop shop serving favorites like doubles & aloo pie.

CALYPSO RESTAURANT & RAW. BAR | $$ Caribbean Try their Caribbean-style seafood, Jamaican jerk and curry dishes.

235 E. Commercial Blvd.,

303 S. State Road 7, Plantation

LA BELLE JACMELIENNE CAFE | $ Haitian Caribbean decor and friendly staff serving up a wide array of Haitian cuisine. 3328 S. University Drive, Miramar


BAHAMIAN REEF SEAFOOD RESTAURANT | $$ Seafood Low-key and casual with colorful interior.

460 S. Cypress Road,

Pompano Beach

CHEF CREOLE SEASONED KITCHEN | $ Haitian Simply delicious signature Haitian seafood.

200 N.W. 54th St., Miami, FL

CLIVE’S CAFE | $ Jamaican Popular spot for jerk chicken and curry goat.

5890 N.W. 2nd Ave., Miami

COLADA CUBAN CAFE | $ Cuban Family-owned bakery serving savory and sweet Cuban treats and other Cuban cuisine. 525 N. Federal Highway, Fort

Lauderdale c

CONCH HEAVEN | $$ Bahamian Lots of conch-based comfort foods with locations in Miami and Plantation in Florida as well as Atlanta and Riverdale in Georgia.

1198 S.W. 27th Ave., Fort


Lauderhill d

DUKUNOO JAMAICAN KITCHEN | $$$ Jamaican Wynwood’s full-service, upscale, Caribbean dining experience. Miami d

DUNNS RIVER ISLAND CAFE | $$ Jamaican Authentic Jamaican cuisine in a beautiful ambiance, serving the Hallandale area. 908 W. Hallandale Beach

2600 S. University, Miramar

DON ARTURO BAR & RESTAURANT | $$ Cuban Traditional Cuban food in a setting when kids are welcome.

5434 N. University Drive,

316 N.W. 24th St.,

11275 N.W. 27th Ave., Miami

CONCH KRAWL BAHAMIAN/CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT | $$ Bahamian, Seafood Enjoy traditional Bahamian and other Caribbean dishes.

DONNA’S CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT | $$ Jamaican Authentic Jamaican food all day, plus cocktails and Sunday brunch. 10 locations around South Florida.

Blvd., Hallandale Beach d

THE DUTCH POT JAMAICAN RESTAURANT | $ Jamaican Authentic Jamaican cuisine.

FINLEY’S A TASTE OF THE BAHAMAS | $$ Bahamian Try a breakfast dish served with Bahamian johnny cakes or grits or a daily lunch special 731 Hammondville Road, Pompano Beach fi

HAVANA 1957 | $$ Cuban Enjoy hearty cuisine and live music in a setting filled with relics of Cuba. 405 Española Way, Miami Beach h

ISLAND FUSION GRILL | $$ Jamaican, Cuban, Vegan Jamaican, Cuban, Asian and Creole flavors with seafood and vegetarian options. 4811 S. State Road 7, Davie i

LC ROTI SHOP | $ Indian, Vegetarian Cash-only eatery, serving homemade roti with pepper sauce. 19505 N.W. 2nd Ave., Miami

LITTLE HAVANA RESTAURANT | $$ Cuban Authentic Cuban Cuisine

3120 W. Broward Blvd.,

12727 Biscayne Blvd., North

Fort Lauderdale

Miami l

AVERAGE COST PER PERSON BEFORE DRINKS, TAX AND TIP. $ Under $10 / person $$ Under $20 / person $$$ Under $40 / person $$$$ Over $40 / person

LOCALICIOUS OLD FASHIONED ICE CREAM | $$ Ice Cream Old-fashioned, handmade ice cream including Caribbean flavors. 4220 N.W. 12th St., Lauderhill localiciouscaribbeanicecream. com

JAMAICA KITCHEN | $$ Jamaican Known for their extra spicy beef patties. 8736 S.W. 72nd St., Miami

JOY’S ROTI DELIGHT | $ Trinidadian, Indian Counter-service cafe with Indian-inspired Caribbean cuisine. 1205 N.W. 40th Ave., Lauderhill j

JUANA LA CUBANA CAFE | $ Cuban Offering a simple, Cuban soul food menu. 3308 Griffin Road, Fort Lauderdale j

JUANA’S LATIN SPORTS BAR | $$ Latin Casual Dominican, Puerto Rican and American sports bar and grill. 11602 City Hall, Miramar

LAS OLAS CAFE | $ Cuban Freshly squeezed juices and Cuban sandwiches. 644 6th St., Miami Beach

LAS VEGAS CUBAN CUISINE | $ Cuban, Latin American A dine-in hot spot with 12 South Florida locations offering Cuban meals and cocktails. 2807 E. Oakland Park Blvd.,

Ft. Lauderdale

EL MAGO DE LAS FRITAS | $ Cuban Cozy spot for Cuban burgers. 5828 S.W. 8th St., Miami e

MANGU CAFE ESTAURANT | $ Dominican This Dominican dive offers dishes like pernil and goat stew. 2007 W. 62nd St., Hialeah

MANJAY RESTAURANT | $$ Haitian Modern take on traditional Caribbean dishes with creole-style cuisine. 8300 NE 2nd Ave., Miami

MARIO’S CATALINA RESTAURANT | $$$ Cuban Dine in a relaxing ambiance with a menu featuring Cuban and Spanish cuisine. 1611 N. Federal Highway,

Fort Lauderdale

EL TIESTO CAFE MIAMI | $$ Dominican Dominican-Japanese fusion with a twist. 3023 Biscayne Blvd., Miami e

PADRINO’S CUBAN CUISINE | $$ Cuban Serving the best mariquitas, mojito and flan for the past 40 years. 1135 N. Federal Highway,

Fort Lauderdale p

PANFIYAH | $$ Jamaican Try their popular jerk chicken and shrimp pasta.

7183 W. Oakland Park Blvd.,


POLLO EL COJIDO | $$ Dominican Delicious mofongo, quesadilla and sancocho. 5843 N. University Drive, Tamarac

POLLO TIPICO | $ Dominican Traditional Dominican dishes in a laid-back atmosphere. 5011 FL-7, Davie

PUERTO SAGUA RESTAURANT | $$ Cuban Known for their soup and oxtail stews.

REED’S CATERING & CONCESSIONS | $$ Seafood, Caribbean Late night seafood truck, with a specialty of conch salad. 12203 N.W. 27th Ave., Miami

184 University Drive,

REGGAE PON THE GRILLE | $$ Jamaican, Caribbean Buffet-style dining offering tasty Jamaican dishes.

Pembroke Pines s

8032 W. McNab Road, North Lauderdale r

ROCKSTEADY JAMAICAN BISTRO | $$ Jamaican, Caribbean Nicer than your average Jamaican eatery with menu items like jerk chicken, curries and crab fritters. 2399 N. Federal Highway Unit C, Boca Raton r

SAZON CUBAN CUISINE | $$ Cuban Tasty Caribbean cuisine and live weekend entertainment. 7305 Collins Ave., Miami Beach s

SHALAMA’S HALAL ROTI SHOP | $ Caribbean, Indian Casual ethnic take-out spot with authentic roti, curries and pepper sauce.

700 Collins Ave., Miami

1432 N. State Road 7,



SHEIKS BAKERY & ROTI CAFE | $ Caribbean, Indian Caribbean and Indian offerings include halal meats, spices and bakery products.

SWIRL WINE BISTRO | $$ Caribbean, Wine Bar With fresh, high-quality ingredients, their culinary team offers a variety of cuisines and wines. 1435 Lyons Road, Coconut Creek s

VERSAILLES | $$ Cuban, Latin American Serving tasty Cuban cuisine and culture since 1971, this spot is a hub of the Cuban community. 3555 S.W. 8th St., Miami v

YARUMBA RESTAURANT & LOUNGE | $$ Dominican Try their traditional stews or Churrasco with live music. 4740 N.W. 167th St. Miami Gardens



Event Calendar JUNE

Tues. 6/14 - Thurs. 6/16

Biennial Jamaica Diaspora Conference Where: Kingston, Jamaica Admission: TBA Info: Postponed from 2021, the conference is themed “Reigniting a Nation for Greatness” and is one of the activities to mark Jamaica 60 celebrations. Tues. 6/14 - Fri. 6/17

Bonaire Rum Week Where: Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire Admission: Varies by event Info: This weeklong festival celebrates rum from the Caribbean and beyond while fundraising for Reef Renewal Foundation International.

Sat. 6/18

Caribbean Village Festival’s Summer Soirée Where: Solaris Garden, Southwest Ranches Admission: $25-95 Info: Experience more than 30 authentic Caribbean dishes, island cocktails, music and culture at this all-inclusive event.


Sat. 8/6

Jamaica Independence Day Parade Where: National Stadium, Kingston, Jamaica Admission: Free Info: Every August, Jamaica celebrates its anniversary of gaining independence from the United Kingdom in 1962 with a parade and gala.

Wed. 7/20 - Sat. 7/23

Sun. 8/14 - Wed. 8/17

Reggae Sumfest

Aruba Summer Music Festival

Tues. 6/28

Where: Montego Bay, Jamaica Admission: $60-$2,400 Info: One of Jamaica’s largest festivals that features the Sumfest Beach Party, All White Party, Sound Explosion and two nights of live performances from the best in reggae and dancehall music.

Pieces of Jamaica Exhibition Reception

Fri. 7/29 - Mon. 8/1

Where: Island SPACE Caribbean Museum, Plantation Admission: $10 Info: Get a sneak peak of the photos from the 2022 Pieces of Jamaica: Jamrock Edition and meet the author at the art exhibition’s debut.


Dream WKND Where: Negril, Jamaica Admission: $299-399 Info: Four days of back-to-back partying with performances from local and international music artists as well as delicious food and drink.

Where: Harbor Arena, Oranjestad, Aruba Admission: $80-250 Info: This multi-day event delivers spectacular performances to thousands of locals and tourists. Thurs. 8/18 - Mon. 8/22

Powerfest 2022 Where: Punta Cana, Dominican Republic Admission: $1,071-4,830 Info: This event-filled, all-inclusive weekend combines good music, good food and good times with performances by Rick Ross, BabyFace, Anthony Hamilton, Tweet and more.

*Due to frequent COVID-19 related changes, please check with promoters before heading to these events.








Storytelling Excellence I S L A N D S Y N D I C AT E . C O M



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