Wednesday, February 22, 2012
The best-kept secret of Carnavál, however, is the PRE-parade, just prior to the second parade. That's when all the dancers, royalty and performers have already paraded once. They have had their coronations, things are winding down. They are relaxed, happy. They know what they're doing, they know what to expect.
And, they are lined up along the malecón, getting dressed, putting on makeup, eating something to tide them over for the next few hours of dancing. They are laughing and talking, relaxing, and posing for the tourists. It has honestly become one of my absolute favorite Carnavál activities, though of course I have lots of "favorites" this time of year!
Below is a video I put together tonight, highlighting some of what happened during pre-parade today. I hope you will get a taste of why I love the pre-parade. Thanks for viewing!
Sunday, February 12, 2012
My favorite Carnavál memory is being in a very small pueblo in the Sacred Valley of Perú and being covered with florid blue, pink and purple powder, then squirted with water (it stained everything I was wearing), then passing around a communal giant beer bottle that gave me dysentary. My husband warned me not to imbibe, but I chose to partake of the festivities. Don't regret it, either.
Rio's Mardi Gras is the most famous. Some day I'll get there, and samba with the masses. Mardi Gras in New Orleans is also well known; we've all seen the photos of the bare breasts flashing. But Mazatlán's Carnavál holds its own. It's family-friendly, diverse and a whole lot of fun. If you haven't yet joined us, be sure not to miss the fun. It is held, as with most Carnavales worldwide, the five days prior to Ash Wednesday (Thursday through Tuesday nights).
Carnavál de Mazatlán was in 1898. Back then, they celebrated with a Rey Feo (Ugly King) rather than today's Rey de la Alegría (King of Joy), but for generations there have been Carnavál and Juegos Florales (Floral Games) Queens, and back as far as 1900 there was a ball for the kids. This community festival has a long, long history as a family event.
Carnavál de Mazatlán is noteworthy for its long association with our regional banda and tambora music, as well as with fine arts events (painting, literature, classical music).
here to read.
I blogged about that as well, and there's a movie to go with it.
Eighth, remember that between parades they tend to park the floats in the Gran Plaza. Since they just built the new theater this year, I'm not sure that's still what they'll do. If not, there's the big lot over by Sam's. But it's fun to visit the floats when they're parked, and marvel at the creativity and hard work that goes into making them.
Tenth? I LOVE the manifestaciónes: the early counting of votes for queen and king, pre-Carnival parades and gatherings. Much more informal than the main event, it is where I was able to get my photo taken with Banda El Recodo a few years ago, when they were Kings of Joy. Confetti, masks, beads, candies, music.... you'll love the manifestations.
Twelfth, there is a world class Velada de las Artes, played by an orchestra in the Angela Peralta Theater. If you enjoy classical music, you won't want to miss it. If you didn't get your ticket in time, you can still watch it in the Plazuela on one of the outdoor screens, or even over live streaming online.
You may be wondering how safe it is to attend the Carnavál events. Our family feels safe, as do thousands of other Mazatlecos. Please use the common sense you would for any major public event. People come to Carnavál from out of town just to pick your pocket, so don't carry lots of cash or flashy jewelry, or your passport. Also, as with any large crowd, there is always a danger if people get spooked. State Fairs, the Super Bowl, concerts; if people get spooked and start shoving or running, it wreaks havoc. That is not normally the case in Mazatlán, but if it should happen, we'd urge you not to run even if those around you do. Stay calm and help others. Get to the side of a building or a place where you can get out of the flow of people. The greatest danger is losing your footing if there is a mad rush.
One final word of advice: if you visit the party zone in Olas Altas on Thursday (King of Joy Coronation) or Saturday (Combate Naval fireworks), plan ahead for your ride home. It is a mob scene. Nearby parking can be scarce, and getting a taxi home can be frustrating, since every one else is trying to hail a cab at the same time.
In short, Carnavál Mazatlán has so much to offer that I am sure I have forgotten something. Yes! The ball! On Monday night there is a ball, attended by many of the city's who's-who, the international queens, and all manner of visiting dignitaries.
You like reserved seats? We've got the coronations and the Velada. You like street dancing? We've got six nights of the best in the world. You want world-class music? Check. You want black tie? The ball! You want to wear jeans and boots, or shorts and t-shirt? No worries! You want free-of-charge events? Got plenty of those!
We look forward to having you share with us one of the world's best events, the pride of our local Mazatleco community, with over 100 years of respected history and tradition. This is an event we trust will continue for at least 100 more years. What terrific community-building it is!
Normally you can't find all the Carnavál events listed in one place, so below I'll do my best to help you navigate the maze a bit. The schedule is normally the same every year, though each year the dates change, because Carnavál falls on the days prior to Ash Wednesday (which changes dates year to year).
EVENTS LEADING UP TO CARNAVAL
In the weeks leading up to Carnavál:
- Manifestaciones, usually three of these plus a Final Computation, located at various venues throughout the city. The last one tends to be on Friday night, two weeks before Carnavál, and the parades winds through downtown.
- Callejoneada, or alley parade
Saturday night, two weeks prior to Carnavál:
- Election of the Queen of Carnaval (contest), in the Angela Peralta Theater
The week before Carnavál:
- Presentation of the Sate Painting Prize and opening of an exhibit, at Casa Haas, the art museum, or...
- Presentation of the State Literature Prize, in the Angela Peralta Theater
The week before Carnavál and continuing through Carnavál:
- La Feria, a fair, with rides and games and cotton candy, in the field by Sam's Club/Colegio Andes
Friday before Carnavál:
- Velada de las Artes concert in the Angela Peralta Theater
EVENTS DURING CARNAVÁL
Throughout the five days of Carnavál:
- Olas Altas is ready to party! Many stages are put up for live music, and there are food and beverage stands galore. Men will usually be frisked as they enter. A small entry fee (30 pesos or so) is charged to enter the party zone. This area is going all night long into the wee hours of the morning. So, if the events below don't strike your fancy, just head down to Olas Altas and enjoy the party! New this year: Imperio de los Mares, a water fountain and laser light show in the antique oceanside pool in the party zone! To take place at 7:15 and 10:30 each night, this sounds sure to be a spectacular addition to Carnavál.
- The last few year's they've announced a food fair to take place every day in the Plazuela Machado. This is a major misnomer in English. They do a televised fair opening with the mayor and Carnavál royalty, but other than that it pretty much means the restaurants in the Plazuela will each have a special. Oftentimes their normal menus are actually more limited during the busy-ness of Carnavál.
- Muestra Gastronómica, or food demonstration, in the Plazuela Machado, in the afternoon (though this year this is supposed to be EVERY day!)
- Coronation of the Rey de la Alegría/King of Joy, in Olas Altas, at night
- Coronation of the Reina de los Juegos Florales/Floral Games, in the baseball stadium (tickets required)
- Coronation of the Reina del Carnavál, in the baseball stadium (tickets required)
- Burning of the Bad Humor (Quema del Mal Humor), usually around 9 pm, in Olas Altas
- Combate Naval, fireworks display, usually at 10 or 11 pm, in Olas Altas
- 1st parade, usually starting at Olas Altas (tho this year it's announced to begin at Fisherman's Monument) around 4 or 5 pm and heading north to Valentino's along Avenida del Mar
- Corrida de Toros, or Carnavál Bullfight, in the bull ring, beginning around 4 pm (tickets required)
- Coronation of the Reina Infantil or Child Queen, in the stadium, headlined by a major singer (tickets required)
- Children's Ball, held at a hotel in town (tickets required)
- Festival de la Luz fireworks, usually about 10 pm, also along Avenida del Mar
- 2nd parade, starting at the Bosque or the Aquarium around 4 pm and heading south on Avenida del Mar
We moved to Mazatlán four years ago. Since that time, Danny and I have attended church every Sunday. Same church each week. Same Mass each week. Same people we see there each week. Four years. I love Sunday Mass. Love to sing. Love communal prayer. Love the people we celebrate with each week.
Now, it's a Catholic church, and anyone who knows Catholicism will tell you that good Catholics don't fraternize at Sunday services (written tongue in cheek, but true). You come, you pray, you leave. No small talk. The priests basically have to order us to shake hands with the person beside us in the pew.
But this was not "my" Mass. It was the evening Mass, which I rarely attend. It was a welcome invitation, for sure. Now, in the parish's defense, I have made no effort to get involved in the church outside of Sunday Mass. My schedule right now doesn't allow it, my preferences right now aren't prioritizing it. There are people who attend our Mass that I know outside of church. They of course greet us.
Well, unwittingly this am, as Danny and I knelt in prayer before the service started, the altar guild/greeter lady at OUR service, our church, came to our pew, and asked us if we would be so kind as to take up the gifts! "Would you take up the wine, and your Mami take up the bread," she asked Danny.
Wow! How cool is that!
Four years, people, but we feel included. We have received our rite of passage.
I will say I attended church in Tokyo and in the US longer than we've been here, and was never ad-hoc included in this way.
Now the Episcopal Church, where Danny used to serve Mass every Sunday morning, and I was the greeter, that's a different story... :)
Sunday, February 5, 2012
They lived in small towns near each other, and told me that in the day it was common to show up to drink and dance whenever anyone nearby got married or had a party with a band. According to them, the hosts didn't mind. They expected uninvited guests to "crash."
The day after such a party, his friends would say, "Hey, Danny, where were you last night? We missed you!" Sometimes even the host of the party would say it to him. So, he learned a more inclusive approach to party-going. He learned he usually didn't need a personal or direct verbal invitation; friends are always welcome.
But, this "open invitation" approach to parties obviously can get out of hand, especially when kids attend a huge school, when they have a wide circle of friends, or, as with teenagers anywhere, "the word gets out" and there aren't a lot of other parties that same night. Two weeks ago there was just such a "small" quinceañera to which 300 or so kids showed up! Parents, who pay the bills for the parties, wisely want to limit attendance. But how? It bucks cultural norms.
Seems clear enough to me.
The kids told me about a boy at school who has a whole counterfeiting operation. He goes to a party place and buys a bunch of the identical bracelets for that weekend's party (bracelets come in all colors and many foil or reflective designs as well). He has a counterfeiting "kit" with 3 kinds of Sharpies plus Q-tips and alcohol to clean up any erroneous strokes that occur while making the fake bracelets. He sells the blank bracelets for 25 pesos (they must cost a few pesos at most at the shop, but hey, he delivers right to you at school). Buying a bracelet complete with the counterfeited markings costs 40 pesos (15 pesos for his copying prowess).
If you don't want to participate in counterfeiting, you can buy a pulsera from someone who was "legally" invited to the party but can't or doesn't want to go. These "scalped" bracelets sell for 100 pesos. Who says young kids nowadays aren't enterprising! Capitalism is alive and well among teenagers in Mazatlán.
Thank goodness that these bracelets didn't exist in the 1940s. My parents may never have met, and I wouldn't be here!
Wednesday, February 1, 2012
All in all, a most welcome mid-week respite to recharge our batteries and ground ourselves in the reality and security of our beloved city before we headed back to work.