Words by DJ Autograph
The year was 1991. A pre-pubescent DJ Autograph, thinking it would be fun, convinced his mom to let him participate in Jamaica Junior Carnival. All my friends were doing it so, naturally, at that age I didn’t want to be left out. Come road march day I was decked out in bicycle shorts, headdress—all the trimmings. I was never really into soca or calypso music but I had to become familiar with the hits of the year, especially since I’d be marching to them (and dancing to them with females, I hoped). While I only remember a couple songs from that year, among the most notable was “Dollar Wine” by Colin Lucas, a song that is still among the best-known and widely-played soca songs two decades later. The tune is itself a dance tutorial, as Trinidadian singer Lucas instructs the listener to “put a cent piece in yuh left pocket, five cent in yuh right, 10 cent in yuh back pocket…under yuh belt stick a dollar.” Watching the video below of Lucas performing “Dollar Wine” live (particularly the women’s reaction) one may see why a pre-pubescent boy would remember this song. The suggestive nature of the song coupled with the dance made the “Dollar Wine” Colin’s biggest hit.
In the first video below, a live clip filmed at New York’s Paramount Theater on Mother’s Day 1992, Colin steps onto the stage in a shiny purple polyester shirt, bicycle shorts with patterned sides to match his purple shirt, black tube socks with purple trim, and black shoes. (His get-up from the second clip, filmed two years later at Brooklyn’s Golden Pavilion, is even more outlandish). His outfit is probably not that far off what I had to wear for the road march. I only hope no pictures exist. Lucas (who more recently occupied the role of CEO for the Copyright Music Organisation of Trinidad and Tobago) then demonstrates how to do the basic dollar wine, the up-tempo version of the dollar wine, and the “big money” dollar wine. He then follows up with “Gyrate, Rotate, Oscillate” showcasing how to do each of these movements. “Dollar Wine” is one of the few soca songs that hold a special place with me…and, yes, it was responsible for my first “dance” with a girl.