Miami Carnival

Miami has two main Carnival celebrations during the year – Caribbean Carnival (now) and Calle Ocho Carnaval (March).  I knew about them both in a theoretical way, but since my annual fall work trips to Miami stopped around the time I joined the Samba School in Austin, I never paid much attention to the events.

How did it pop back on my radar this time around? While waiting for Carroll to pick me up at the airport yesterday, I wound up chatting with a man waiting for his son to pick him up. He said he was in town from Trinidad to DJ for a Carnival party, so I started asking questions about Carnival in Trinidad to see how much it had in common with Brazil. It didn’t occur to me until a bit later, when said DJ gave me his number and requested mine, that while we were both waiting to be literally picked up, he was trying to metaphorically pick ME up – I’m a bit slow to catch on to these things sometimes. Apparently all the samba dancing is keeping me “fit” – and I don’t think that adjective was meant in a Jane Fonda kind of way.   In any case, it was broad daylight and I was learning about Carnival, so I didn’t mind too much, I just ignored the piropos and took in the facts. Thanks to the DJ, Carroll and I learned about this weekend’s festivities and were able to go enjoy them earlier today. (We skipped his pool party last night.)

Carroll and I realized that probably 85-90% of the people at the event were PART of the event. There were minimal spectators. No food vendors, one tiny bar. While the entrance gate for “masqueraders” was teeming, this is what we saw when we entered.

I took way too many photos to post as anything other than a gallery, but I tried to keep like elements together for your viewing pleasure. Below you can enjoy: close-ups of amazing Carnival costumes (I now have an even greater yen to make a headdress!), some parade shots of steel drum bands (with tiny kids!) and semis stacked to the gills with speakers (the very ground shook from the bass!), candid “backstage” shots that I took while Carroll and I wandered without limits through the staging area (just look at the riot of colors and feathers!), and some examples of how glittered-up ladies tried to avoid losing their shimmer in the unfortunate rain that plagued the event (hunching under trucks, tents, and trees…ponchos over costumes…shower caps on heads).

One final note – I was so tempted to ask the DJ mentioned at the beginning of this post if I could take his photo yesterday, because his bling was truly impressive, but I a) didn’t want to be geeky about it and b) didn’t want it to be misinterpreted as deep interest, so I abstained. Who should happen by today with the third float, cord-wrangling for one of the steel drum bands in the parade? I got the money shot just as he strolled by – you can thus appreciate his custom necklace and 4-knuckle-spanning ring here.


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