Carnival in San Francisco, California May 2010
San Francisco’s Carnaval blossomed from its inception in Precita Park in the Mission District 32 years ago. Its growth and development is attributable to the passion of its founding members who longed for the traditional Carnaval celebrations of their native homelands.
Those founding members were composed of people from many cultures, and walks of life ranging from musicians, dancers, artists and a host of local residents that saw the joy and happiness that came when they gathered in this multicultural celebration.
San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions is a cultural arts and education non profit composed of people from many cultures, who have been involved with Carnaval and Cinco de Mayo, as board members, volunteers, teachers, performers and event planners through the different organizations that have produced San Francisco’s Carnaval over the last 3 decades.
The weather may have been chilly but it was hot, hot, hot in the Mission District for the 31st Annual Carnaval San Francisco 2009. In spite of the luke warm economy and the chilly weather, Carnaval San Francisco 2009 was an artistic success and one of the most beautiful extravaganzas of multicultural dance and music in the Bay Area. Over 60 fabulous contingents representing the global community and some incredible fusions dazzled spectators that lined the more than 20 blocks of the Parade route. The Parade contingents outdid themselves in costumes, props, floats and Carnaval spirit. Ingenuity was the key with groups like Bras Arte/Ginga Brasil parading in recycled costumes from 20 years of participating in Carnaval San Francisco.
Carnaval is a two-day event, which means there also are seven blocks of stage-punctuated booths that opened Saturday at 10 a.m. And with cloudless skies as a lure, people of all races were finding their way to Harrison Street, where music ricocheted off industrial buildings and Victorian-era homes.
I was in the first few Carnavals and from my personal experience I must say the Carnaval has gone through miraculous changes over the last 30 years. Of course it was very small when it was started. I loved seeing how many people were there this year and the live music on stages were great. I do however, miss the spontaneous jam sessions that used to happen in the old days. Especialy the Afro Cuban Rumbas and the mixing of different types of music styles and players that would happen before. I guess for security reasons, there are no jam sessions allowed anymore which to me is really a shame!
That said, all in all it was a great and important event for the city of San Francisco which showcased it’s awesome array of cultural diversity and talent, which is one of the main reasons when I am in the country I love to stay in the Bay Area of California. If you have a choice of time to visit the Bay Area of California and you love to hear music and see dance, come out on Memorial Day weekend as this is probably the best weekend to be here! Bring your camera or video because this is a unique event and the largest of it’s kind by far in the USA!
Also, there is another amazing party event that happens in Mosswood Park in Oakland, California (at Broadway and Macarthur) on Memorial day. It does not have a name but there is an annual party that originally started as a response to the SF Carnaval. The city of Oakland supported it the first year or two, but then they stopped. The people, musicians, dancers and friends kept coming and since it’s inception many years ago this has become the drum party of the year to attend! There is a live marimba ensemble in one corner of the park, west African djembe music in another, rumba in another spot and Ewe music in another! A truly unique experience or mini Woodstock of ethnic African diaspora drum, dance and culture![AMAZONPRODUCT=B001UYWPT4] [AMAZONPRODUCT=B0018M7ALQ] [AMAZONPRODUCT=B0001I54M0]