Monday, February 23, 2009

En Barranquilla Se Baila Así

Part 2 of a 3-part series on lesser-known, but no-less-hot, Carnival celebrations.

Growing every year by word of mouth, the Carnaval de Barranquilla on the Caribbean coast of Colombia is more an expression of folklore and regional culture than random debauchery and merriment. In 2003, the festival was named a Masterpiece of Oral and Intangible Patrimony of Humanity by UNESCO, the cultural body of the United Nations. Instead of an ever-shifting theme, this party features an array of signature dances that embody the synthesis of cultures that make up Colombian society, each with a particular set of costumes and its own rhythmic beat. Here are three of the most popular dances performed at Carnaval:

The national dance of Colombia, the cumbia marries the gyrating hands of the Spanish, the swiveling hips of the Africans, and the steadfast foot-shuffle of the Indigenous peoples in a pas de deux of civilized seduction.

The costume of the garabato supposedly symbolizes life and death, while the movements indicate nothing but a joy for living (and drinking).

More traditionally danced at night and in loincloths, the mapalé ("fish out of water") has probably remained the most unchanged from its cultural origins of all the Carnival dances.

And yes, I have been out Carnivaling...see:

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