Thursday, March 10, 2011

More Carnival

This is what happens on the last weekend of Carnaval. People dress in white from head to toe and shake talcum powder over each other. In the end everyone appears like a ghost-white faces, white hands. And when it rains on a night when the air is full of talcum powder, you should never wear your favorite leather shoes. Be wiser than that! You should know better!


Las Palmas de Gran Canaria has been the site of a fantastic carnival throughout this past month. Alas, the festivities have come to a close and the Parque Sta. Catalina will be converted from a stadium and the site of costumed dancing back into a quiet park and bus station. I never knew how much I was missing out on in terms of public parties until I came here and saw what can happen when a thousand people cross dress in front of a speaker. I met so many butterflies, princesses with beards, and pirates that I don't know how to feel about it.
The theme of Carnival this year was water and things related to the sea. Initially I wanted to dress as a mollusk, but after finding obtaining the materials for a costume difficult, I decided on the first big night to dress as a hula girl. Several friends and I left for the park, not really knowing what to expect, and were sorely disappointed. Apparently no one who's anyone arrives anywhere before 1 am. We did see some fantastic performances by the Murgas, which are male choirs who sing songs devoted to Carnival, set to drums and kazoos. Really that isn't a joke, every good Murga had about 50 kazoos.
So needless to say it was awkward and a little chilly walking around in a grass skirt and lei, but as the evening wore on the costumed began to emerge in hordes. By this point we were exhausted, however, and had to promise ourselves that we would never make such a mistake again.
The next big weekend of Carnival I had the opportunity to see the Gala de las Reinas, which is a procession of the "Queens of the Carnival", of whom one winner was chosen. The girls were all about mid-twenties and beautiful, and were sponsored by major companies on the island and in Spain who funded elaborate floats which the girls wore. Each girl walked about the stage wearing an enormous sculpture-costume covered in glitter and feathers and the like. It was completely beautiful, although I'll admit it sounded strange to me as well before I saw it for myself.
On this night I chose not to wear a costume, and alas I had steered myself wrong again. Everyone but me was dressed in wigs and colors and feathers etc. I still had a fantastic time, and ate in the park-chorizo and bread cooked on hot bricks. I don't remember it's official name, but I went back for more.
The real big weekend of carnival is the weekend of "Queens" as well, but this time in reference to drag queens. The party here is apparently world famous among the superstars and upper crust of the drag queen world. I watched the program on tv (dressed like lady gaga-finally I did something right) and was completely awe-struck. The city had brought in a famous actress and hostess to lead the ceremonies, and she got the crowd going while the queens did their thing. So much (or should I say so little) leather, eyeshadow, body paint, spray tan, bodysuits? When the camera panned around the crowd, the very young and the EXTREMELY old were all going insane while men with nipple stickers gyrated their hips to electronic music. I was in shock. How great is this?