Joyous resistance through costume and dance at Carnival

by Henry Navarro Delgado


We partied morning to morning, and a joyous spirit permeated everything; speech, customs and appearances. The centrepiece of it all were wheeled fantasy islands (floats) inhabited by amazingly glamorous yet exquisitely vulgar costumed creatures played by Carnival masqueraders. The best part of the whole affair? People from the community created everything. With Toronto’s famous Caribbean Carnival around the corner, these memories from my adolescence in the Caribbean return. Acquaintances from my grandmother’s neighbourhood, La Risueña in the city of Santiago de Cuba, spent a whole year working on their carnival wares. They practised their moves in secret. Their goal was to outdo other townsfolk’s floats, costumes, music and choreography. Growing up in Cuba, people of all ages and walks of life waited for summer’s arrival. Not because of the heat and humidity (we unanimously loathed that), but because of carnival season.

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