SOMEWAY, SOMEHOW, CARNIVAL WILL ALWAYS UPEND YOUR EXPECTATIONS. This was the case when we went down to the first weekend of the local carnival parade in Santo Domingo Este, the up-and-coming annex to the Capital. Santo Domingo Este is the newer, younger municipality that only shares a namesake with the Western Hemisphere’s oldest city. Let the Capital serve you the masterful floats flanked with celebrity musical guests and Broadway-level chorus lines. If you want to see the pulse, the dreams and the reality of the majority of the area’s youth, it’s bursting at the seams of every barrio in the East. Traditional bourgeoisie ideas of Hispanidad and nationalism that are still the bread and butter of the national media are eschewed in favor of the true messages found in the music: reggaeton, hip-hop and bachatas. WhatsApp postings rule the society life here, not the pages of Hola. So it should be no surprise that Santo Domingo Este’s Carnival proceedings have their ear close to the streets as well. All the barrios send out crews with their own iterations of the traditional carnival tropes and figures in hopes of winning thousands of pesos in prize money—from the unassuming and harmless (Indian processions and celebrations of the shacks and shantys of los barrios marginales), to lushly fantastical to the theatrical clash of ratchetry and political jibes.
Keep checking the blog for more posts from Carnival in the D.R. February 27th kicks off the final presentation in the Capital, celebrating Dominican Independence. —José