Friday, February 20, 2015

Dancin' in the streets, all night long!

Super Heros Dancin' - photo Maria Medina Figueroa
Carnaval! (Or as we say in English: Carnival!)
Crazy colourful costumes, pulse-pounding music and exuberant dancers – it's the best time of the year to visit Isla Mujeres. 


2015 King and Queen of Carnaval

The annual five-day event kicked off on Friday night with the traditional coronation of the kings and queens representing various segments of the island population. 

The final coronation for the night was the official King and Queen of the Carnaval for 2015.


Yadira Medina Velazquez in the middle
Early on Saturday afternoon I popped out to a Kyra Thompson Drennan and Bruce Saaranen's house to watch our friend Yadira Medina Velázquez and her amigas dance in the street. When I arrived Freddy Medina pointed out that a latch was open on the bottom of my camera. I looked inside – empty! I had accidentally left the camera's memory card in my computer at home! No memory for my camera – and apparently I have no memory. Fortunately Janet Davison had a card that I could borrow for a few hours. Saved! Thank you! On with the show!

Dramatic black and purple costumes
Thumping music, smiling people and the ladies swinging and swaying to the tunes. Awesome. The twelve women danced several times in the hot afternoon sun, stopping only briefly for a costume change. The first costume was dramatic purple and black, the second cheerful lime green and hot pink. These impromptu and intimate performances are, for us, the best part of Carnaval. Its a chance to get to know the dancers and their friends. Too much fun!

Saturday night in Centro - waiting to dance

Later on Saturday evening we trekked down to centro with John and Maia to watch the Cuban dance band. We arrived around 9:30 and the square was packed with people. People watching the dancers. People buying food from the street vendors. People enjoying a warm Caribbean night. We watched a number of dance troupes run through their energetic routines until around 11:00 in the evening. By then we were too tired to wait any longer for the Cuban band, and trekked back home. 



Red Devil Angels & White Saintly Angels
The few taxis that we saw were overflowing with passengers. No chance of a ride that night. Fortunately we are only about a twenty minute walk from centro, but when you are sleepy that twenty minutes seems like twenty hours.

On Sunday Alexis and Darren Grabby asked us to stop by their house. A neighbour across the street is in a dance troupe, and her group was putting on a show for the neighbourhood. The ladies were a bit late arriving, but eventually a collection of red devil angels and white saintly angles showed up on a convoy of motorcycles. They looked a bit weary, however, they cranked up the tunes and ripped through several dances with big smiles on their faces.


Kids troupe - dancing on another street

While the red devils and white angles were performing at Alexis and Darren's casa, we noticed a second group arrive just a block away. 

I snapped a few photographs of the young dancers. They were all about elementary age; a dozen young ladies, and one brave young man. He seemed to be enjoying himself: a lot.




Kids, kids, kids!

And then it was time to scoot downtown to see the first parade. We met up with a dozen or so friends on the upper deck at Jax Bar & Grill, settling in to wait for the 3:00 o'clock start time.…...... waiting, waiting, waiting. No one was particularly worried as the time was consumed with eating good food, and drinking cold beverages. It's a very pleasant way to pass an afternoon with friends.


King & Queen of Carnaval - totting heavy headdresses
About an hour past the scheduled start time we could hear the police motorcycles sirens clearing the roadway, and luring sunbathers off the beaches and swimmers out of the ocean. Parade time!

The first group to arrive were the reining King and Queen of Carnaval, toting heavy feathered headdresses and brocade costumes, followed by their feather-bedecked entourage. 


The teenager dance troupe

Then the other groups flowed past – each stopping at the reviewing stand to dance for the judges. Teenagers in orange, black and red. Youngsters in blue, red and gold. Grandmothers in sparkling pink, yellow and purple. Thirty-something women in lime green and orange. Supermen – plural. Wonder Women – plural. 


Lime & Orange costumes - very tropical

By the time Carnaval is over the roads will be littered with small decorations that have fallen off various costumes. Hundreds of brightly coloured feathers are already fluttering forlornly on the edges of the road – so many hues I wonder if a flock of psychedelically-dyed poultry had recently met its demise.





Grand mothers kicking up their heels!

The five days flow together in a confusion of colour, motion, and music and soon it will be done for another year. We are already looking forward to Carnaval 2016 starting Friday February 5th. See you there!
Hasta Luego
Lynda and Lawrie




Worn out Super Heros!

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3 comments:

Ann said...

I love when Carnaval coincides with our annual trip--and it will again next year. I noticed this year the Wonder Woman /Superman troupe had many adults males in it--is that unusual? Don't think I've ever seen a troupe like that before--all the groups were wonderful!

Lynda Lock said...

Hi Ann - It may have happened in past years but this is the first year that we have seen a dance troupe that was about 50% men! Good to see the guys joining in the fun with their sweeties and kids.

Angie Montag said...

I really enjoyed this post! How much fun it must be to watch all of the talented and devoted dancers. Their costumes alone are impressive and I'm amazed by their work and resilience in the heat! Hopefully I can plan one of our trips to the island to see it all first hand :)
Thanks Lynda!
Angie