When I stumbled across Carnaval celebrations in early February, I pretty quickly got the gist of it. Blaring, fast-paced rhythms, crowds of young people—some of who were looking to make a little trouble—and of course, hundreds of people decked out in colorfully creepy outfits, working their way down a raucous parade on a main street not far from the Malecón in the capital city of Santo Domingo.
But just a few weeks later, I was lucky to witness the culmination of a month of Carnaval celebrations in the Dominican Republic: a larger, louder, more ludicrous parade blazing down the center of George Washington Avenue on Sunday, which is usually the quietest day of the week.
Normally, on Sundays, I’m cooped up inside the house, crouched over my computer, working a little extra or wasting time, or a mix of the two. On this day, though, the sounds of the parade drifted into my bedroom and made me throw on my shoes to see what all the fuss what about.
Wild costumes, a rowdy crowd, vendors galore…
What I discovered just a few blocks down from my apartment was the same basic concept as before: Wild costumes, a rowdy crowd, vendors galore, trash building up on sidewalks, music so loud it could make you deaf. I saw a young girl puke violently into the gutter while her friends looked on, slightly amused. A young whippersnapper smacked me on the behind with an inflated animal bladder, a popular Carnaval accessory, which left me with a bruise I still have.
Some concerned women next to me warned me about a few young guys who were “watching” me, but the nice gentleman next to me assured me that his friends were watching them, so I was in no danger. But this was all in the span of half an hour. Seems like a lot of drama for just a parade, right?
Since I’ve already mentioned him, I had better give special thanks to the (nameless?) guy who stood next to me during the parade, orchestrating my footage and some of the people in costume to be sure I got pics of all the action. You can hear him in the video, directing parade participants to pose for my camera, and asking some of the parade participants where they are from.
Armed with just my phone, I was able to capture a few video clips that I have compiled below. It’s brief, but I hope it gives you an idea of the flavor of this parade and of the month’s celebrations.