On July 9th and 10th, Latin festival Carnaval del Sol brought the fiesta to the Vancouver city. With its slogan “Eat. Play. Live.”, 88 Pacific Boulevard was packed with musical performers, Latin dance bands, and food trucks from more than 15 Latin American countries. Each country was represented through colorful attires, chilly tacos, and crispy homemade tortillas!
As the founder of Latincouver (the organization behind the festival), the Colombian transplant Paula Murillo was the lady in charge for gaining funding for the event from agencies such as Canadian Heritage, the B.C. Ministry of Multiculturalism, and the City of Vancouver. Today, Carnaval del Sol is known as the biggest Latin celebration of the Pacific Northwest.
“We come from cultures that want to be outside smiling, dancing and not being self-concerned, enjoying good food and more. So we started with a small event that eventually moved to Granville Street, where it was completely overwhelmed, and now we have a team of 65 people working fully for eight months on the festival,” says Murillo.
The festival contains seven major plazas each dedicated to the representation of one aspect of the Latin culture: the Beer and Food Plaza (of course, the busiest), the Kids and Family Plaza, the Sports Plaza, and the Urban Lab Art Plaza.
On the morning of July 9th, the Argentinian Clown Band hit the main stage for over an hour. As a band of musicians and actors known for their unique clown makeups, Los Entangados has been mixing theater with genres such as rock, cuarteto, música balkánica, reggae, cumbia, ska, folklore, and tango since 2004. They toured through Mexico at the beginning of 2015 and arrived in British Columbia this month for the summer festival.
But perhaps the most interesting performance of all took place right after this Argentinian Band. The Brazilian Axé Capoeria is a mixture of martial arts and dance. It is a show documented among African and Creole slaves in late colonial Brazil. Now a mainstream sport-show, the martial art capoeira used to be an attempt to spread the free underclasses of Brazilian cities throughout the nineteenth century.Caeporia features African warriors and their initiation cults, the horrors of the Middle Passage, and black slaves fighting on the squares of colonial cities. These dances continue to stand as a symbol of resistance against tyranny and the establishment. It is, in essence, a fight only disguised in dance that is now a major cultural celebration through Latin American festivals around the world.
Of course, finishing off the Hispanic experience would be entirely incomplete without a taste of Caliente Latin kitchen! The busiest food truck in the arena sold a traditional Venezuelan dish called Arepa. Considered a staple of Venezuelan and Latin-American culture, Arepa is made from the very basic ingredients of white cornmeal, water, and salt. However, it is the particular grilling and baking process of the dough that makes it the unique dish it is!
On a more subtle level, apart from having fun and enjoying the tasty foods, observing tens of non-Hispanics dancing and applauding along with Latinos invites all attendants to think about the constant cultural clash that takes place between individuals coming from a variety of ethnic and racial backgrounds.
As Murillo notes, in “a culture of smiling and not being self-centered,” the festival’s Latin mood indeed celebrates a practice whereby the diffusion of south-American cultures in a Canadian scene transforms Canada from an ethnically homogeneous country into a genuinely multi-ethnic and multicultural society.