By Adrian Frater, News Editor
The new dancehall queen, Maude 'Mo Mo' Francato (seated in front), is flanked by second runner-up Angella Battle (left), first runner-up Kadian Reid (right), and promoter Brian 'Big Head' Martin, following the conclusion of the 2007 Red Label Wine Dancehall Queen contest on Sunday morning. - Contributed
Bottles rained on the parade of 26-year-old Canadian Maude 'Mo Mo' Francato at the Pier One Complex, in Montego Bay, early Sunday morning but that could not cut short her joy as she walked away with the coveted Red Label Wine Dancehall Queen title.
After a night laced with high - quality excitement, the mood at the seaside complex turned ugly at daybreak when irate fans hurled bottles on the stage after it was announced that Montego Bay's Kadian Reid, who had a vast section of the crowd rooting for her, was the first runner-up and Francato was the new dancehall queen.
"Nothing that happened after the announcement could have spoiled my joy," said the elated pencil-thin French/Canadian Francato, who now joins Japanese Yoko Bashment as non-Jamaican winners of the annual contest. "This is what I have been living and hoping for ever since I first entered the contest three years ago."
However, like her irate bottle-throwing supporters, Reid was visibly upset with her second-place finish and in addition to breaking down in tears, openly questioned the judge's decision to give the title to Francato. However, Angelina 'Lady Lina' Battle, of the United States, who took the second runner-up slot, had no such concerns, gleefully accepting her trophy.
"It is a real pity that a few misguided persons came so close to destroying what was such a fabulous event but thank God, calm was restored before anyone got hurt," said promoter Brian 'Big Head' Martin. "This is a product to protect not destroy."
The show, which started just before mid-night on Saturday, went into overdrive almost immediately as the crowd, estimated at about 8,000, greeted the 48 contestants. They were clad in red shorts and white long-sleeve shirts completed by red firefighter-style helmets. They came on stage, dancing up a storm, to deafening screams and catcalls.
The Jamaica dancers, who for the most part seemed no more than regular 'go-go' dancers, only began to take on a serious look when, first, the frisky Reid bubbled and gyrated herself into their hearts; and then fellow Montegonian, Nordia Coke, also stamped her class, looking silky smooth on all the latest dance moves.
During a prolonged break, in which the judges were called on to reduce the number of contestants to 20, the excitement remained intense as MCs Jerry D and Garfield found creative ways to engage the audience through give-aways, which included sex toys, and impromptu dance contests featuring members of the audience.
With daylight rapidly approaching, the judges again deliberated and them came up with a top five, which included Francato, Reid, Battle, Coke and Belgium's Paula Amzone, who all clashed in a final showdown, which had the crowd screaming as the revelled in the onstage dancing antics.
After another break, during which promoter Martin handed out five scholarships to needy children from inner-city communities, it was finally the time for the big announcement, which brought a hush over the complex.
When Battle was announced as second runner-up, there was generous applause as the expectant crowd seemed somewhat nervous. However, when Reid was announced as the first runner-up and Francato quickly announced as the winner, cheers and boos erupted simultaneously, before the bottles came raining down on the stage, sending all and sundry running for cover.