21 Things To Do When You’re Invited to a Jamaican Cookout

Learn to dance reggae

Learn to dance reggae

12. Do not be alarmed if you find yourself with a surprise dance partner. It’s just a dance. You are not being propositioned for marriage or otherwise. We’re like that.

13. It’s great to learn a few dances beforehand like “Pon the River” and the “Electric Slide”. Don’t get all excited if you do know it and want to show off your skills. Just be natural. We like that.

14. Stay away from the “Dutty Wine” and any other dances that involve too much wining. There are most likely children running around and we don’t like people getting too nasty in front of our children. What about the young adults you say? We see them. We are scowling at them too. We don’t like that.

15. Expect to see at least one individual on the dance floor who dances like a possessed cat that just got baptized. We do not profess to know what he was drinking or smoking. We just know that someone needs to get their uncle….fast! If you see this individual coming towards you, do not make eye contact. If they start convulsing like they caught the Spirit, they’ve got a leg in the air and they start moving to the left, make a hasty shuffle to the right. Do this or you won’t like it.

16. The drinks may be flowing but you don’t need to be drinking too much if you can’t handle it. Stay away from the rum punch if you think it’s strong enough to burn a hole through your chest. We don’t like to see people acting sloppy at our parties. Just stick to the beer or wine coolers. You’ll like that.

17. There will be at least one drunk person at the cookout. Do not be that person. We let them have their fun and pity them. You do not want our pity, it’s very pitiful. You won’t like that.

18. Do not join the men in Dominoes if you can’t play. Dominoes is not just matching numbers. It takes great skill to give a man “six-love”. Do not be alarmed if there is a lot of swearing, raised voices, and slamming down of dominoes. This is a “big man” game. Stay away if you do not want to be embarrassed and emasculated. We’re like that.

19. There is always one family member who will talk your ear off. Be polite but be prepared with an exit strategy. Look over there! *run fast*. We’ll understand that you’re not trying to be mean and you’re not like that.

20. Do not go in the house if you don’t have to. Jamaicans love to have people come over their house but never in their house to go “fass” or be inquisitive to see what they have inside. If you must use the bathroom be hasty and leave it in good condition. We don’t like people messing up our house.

21. Most of all, make friends. We don’t like stuck up people. Do not be too talkative or ask too many questions. Just listen. Jamaicans have lots of interesting stories to tell. Ask them about their family, how they got their nickname, or where they are from in Jamaica. Follow these steps and you’re guaranteed to be invited back to the next cookout. They will like you and you will have Jamaican friends for life.

About the author

Seanna Bowen-Wishart