Cuba Street Carnival 2009

Saturday (Feb 19th) was the 10th anniversary of the Cuba St Carnival.  Which, sadly, I didn’t get to see much of.  😦

However, the reason I didn’t get to see much of it was pretty good.  My capoeira crew decided to enter a float in the carnival this year.  A float of our very own, in fact, instead of doing what usually happens and just tagging along with the Batucada crew and their awesomely fantastic beats.

So, being a capoeira crew, we started off with the best intentions of getting all organised and sorted really early on.  Which, typically enough, didn’t quite happen.  (But we tried!)

Shaun came through well, with getting us a galleon on wheels for our float, symbolising the history of capoeira and it’s origins with the slaves who were bought over from Africa to Brazil.  He also organised a couple of conquistador costumes for two people on the ship to wear.

Outfits for the rest of us didn’t come along quite so nicely, though.  Starting off with big plans to wear sailor-inspired uniforms, a couple of weeks out from the carnival we realised we had nothing.  Nothing at all, I tells ya.  So, naturally, I volunteered to make stuff.  Coz really, I’m just crazy like that.  (Who needs free time, anyway?  Vastly over-rated.  Or so I hear.)

With little time to do anything, we bailed on the sailor outfits and decided to just go with uniform capoeira colours and styles instead.  So, off to Spotlight Shaun and I went, to buy up heaps of white, gold, and black fabric!  Decided that we would just make capoeira pants for everyone to wear – white, with gold and black stripes down the sides of the legs.  (White, due to tradional capoeira colours;  gold and black for Wellington, at Shaun’s request.)  To make things a little bit simplier for ourselves, Shaun found a website where we could order a whole bunch of white polo shirts (for the boys) and white fitted tees (for the girls) and get the capoeira Aotearoa logo put on them.

However, that still meant 23 pairs of trousers to be made, in only two weeks.

Luckily, various other people from the crew rose to the occasion, and we had several capoeira-trouser-making sessions at my place, with me direction the action and a variety of people (mostly boys, in fact) cutting, pinning, and sewing.  Oddly fun, actually.  Would do again.  🙂  Still took us a far-too-long time, but we got there in the end!  (With -5 minutes to spare, in fact.  A group of us spent all afternoon on Saturday sewing, and I finished off the last pair of pants 5 mins after we were meant to meet the rest of the crew at Thistle Hall to make our way to the parade starting place.  Funnily enough, they waited for us.  Admittedly, they wouldn’t have had any trousers to wear if they had left me behind.  Mwahahaha!)

The parade itself was fantastic.  Passed by in an absolute blur, with us all playing, singing, and actually towing (with ropes) our huge, heavy, but awesome-looking boat.  I think we earned extra street cred simply coz of the sheer people power used to get our float through the streets.  (Turning corners, in particular, was an interesting experience.  Turns out galleons on land don’t steer so well…..)

Got to see a few of the floats beforehand, while we were waiting at the parade start place.  Lots of girls wearing nothing but sequins, feathers, tassles, and fake fruit.  Lots of boys with giant pineapples on their heads.  People with big floating jellyfish held like umbrellas above them.  The Batucada crew with their always-awesome sounds.  Pole dancers, pole dancing on a float.  Two people (astronaught and alien) in a spaceship dangling above the street.  Old guy wearing a skin-tight skeleton costume, on rollar skates.  Someone dressed like a voodoo doll, complete with sewn-up mouth and giant pins appearing to stab right through their body.  Some brilliant imaginations out there!  Love it.  Heaps.  Oh yeah.

Woke up the next morning with two huge blisters, one on each big toe, from trying to jinga while moving forwards as fast as possible.  And somewhat sore hands from towing the boat.  Small price to pay for awesome times.  🙂


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