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Carnaval San Francisco Contingents 2004

Quick looks at what to look for in the upcoming Grand Parade By Jan McDermott

There is a noticeable uptick in the usual buzz as we make the rounds of mas camps, Sunday rehearsals and web site surfing. Most of this years groups (60), most have been performing in the parade for years including some noteworthy Downloadanniversaries, Academicos (20 years) Fogo(15) & Loco Bloco (10)  Roberto Hernandez, Artistic Director/Parade Producer has done some recruiting to broaden San Francisco's own greatest multicultural show ever celebrated.  There are 3 groups from Southern California and many groups have members from all over the world who join them every year for the magic dance down the boulevard of dreams. While more contingents are featuring stilt walkers, there may be a drop in giant costumes with the break the two southbay Caribbean bands are taking (Islands on Fire & Socaribben from the 2004 parade. This years theme has been a hit with over half the groups taking inspiration from "All Life Move in Rhythm" or Fiesta de Tambores.
Here is a rundown of the top 40 Contingents for 2004.
Also you may find useful this
Alpha-sorted 2003 contact list and the 2004 parade line-up || events

Loco Bloco, with its hundreds of participants, is the current reining Grand Champion of San Francisco Carnaval. "Blocura!" is the coming together of two physical and mental states: "Bloco" is a vibrant, deep block of funky people marching/ dancing through the streets. "Loco" means crazy in the mind. "Loco Bloco" discribes their complete state of being. Diez Anos de Blocura! They originated in the Mission District, and have grown deep roots among families throughout the city. Celebrating


click pic for more info

their 10th year anniversary, they are performing a blend of Brazilian, Hip Hop, and Cuban music. The huge majority of participants are under 18 years of age. For complete information, go to www.locobloco.org .

Fogo Na Roupa, run by legendary 107_0775.jpgCarlos Aceituno, and consultant Regina Calloway, has been with us for more 15 years, an anniversary worth a special commemoration; be it a banquet at Pena Pacha Mama or a Grand Championship.Download Gofogo.com  is their deep website locaded with fotos. They are bringing the Samba, "mysteriously associated with female rites of passage and belly button interplay"; Samba-Reggae style played by popular Bloco Afro groups Olodum, Araketu, and Muzenza; Son Tribal: Timbalada, another Bahia sound, with world music innovations featuring a long conical drum called Timbao. As if that weren't enough, they are adding Candomble, spiritual traditions of Yoruba origins. In this dance,
Orixa movements emulate characteristics of elemental forces. Moving to the north of Brazil, we'll see Maracatu, with heavy marching drum cadence, to accompany the dance representing African Congadas, with European influences. The Frevo, an upbeat fever-pitch with polka-like phrasings, and heavy drum cadence, will be danced using umbrellas, with such speed and high energy, it will electrify the already wired onlookers. A premier spirit of innovation, Fogo will be exploring a new beat the Swingerose, based on rhythms form one of Africa's most influential and internationally acclaimed master drummers. HisDownload identity will be revealed as Carnaval 2004 unfolds. On the float will be a presentation honoring the late, great Malonga Casquelourd, the Bay Area's cherished Congolese Master Drummer. This group holds the record for starting Carnaval rehearsals at least 6 months before Carnaval. They live and breathe Carnaval, and as the name says, they dance like their clothes are on fire! As is true with most groups, you are highly encouraged to join and participate in any way.


Mara Reggae, another huge contingent, is based on Brazilian tradition. Their theme is "If you have a heart...you can dance". They celebrate life and recognize all shapes and colors; peace and harmony to all of us, who are brothers and sisters. Rhonda, with her beautiful energy, and Mestre Low, outstanding percussionist, are the Artistic Directors.
Marra Reggae has been a faithful, consistent and award-winning contributor since 1996.

DANCE KAISO's Carnaval SF 2004 masquerade takes the form of a New Orleans Mardi Gras parade. The float is a horse-drawn carriage from which a Southern Belle greets the crowd. Following is The Gumbo Band, a 13-piece Dixieland marching band led by Big Chief Takawaka (Henry Clement of Crowley, Louisiana) in an authentic Mardi Gras Indian Chief costume. Mardi Gras Jesters, French Quarter Ladies, and specialty characters. Robin Frey and Wilfred Mark, the directors, traveled to New Orleans in February in order to bring back authentic Mardi Gras vibes. This year's theme colors are the traditional Mardi Gras purple, green, and yellow/gold. home.earthlink.net/~dkaiso/ .

Brazil Culture and Arts, located in Palo Alto, will celebrate Rio de Janeiro's 400th birthday. This is their 16th year, and they'll be displaying many different aspects of Brazilian culture, such as typical dances and martial arts. There's a Baiana section (from Salvador, Bahia), and Samba, gracious synchronized dance movement of the whole body. "Working in the plantation fields" will be represented by Maculele, a dance performed with sticks. Mestre Beicola, tops in Capoeira, Samba, drums, singing, performing and everything else, is an envoy of Brazilian culture. The website is www.brazilca.com 

The Baby Buggy Brigade, now in its third year, is growing fast. The Artistic Director, Milanda Moore, is a former Carnaval SF Queen (1997).
Go to carnaval.com/sf/97awards/csf97awards.htm
to see her picture. There was never a tradition of babies in the parade until the Baby Buggy Brigade created one. Now, they are a mainstay of the contingents, as revelers procreate! Simple but effective costuming for both young and old makes this a user-friendly contingent for parents. What a great way for young families to enjoy Carnaval. Everybody has fun.

Good Samaritan Family Resource Center, presenting "Latino Mix", is doing a special tribute to the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. The theme is Ochun con Chango, named after a song by Celia Cruz. Afro-Latino spiritual elements from the Yoruba tradition will be emphasized, with Orisha dance as found in Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Brazil. There will also be Salsa and Bomba y Plena. Costumes will be made by Mario Chacon, one of our beloved Carnaval Kings. Check here for some good pictures of the group.
www.goodsamfrc.org/english/news.htm .

Jouvay.com is as hot as ever, with Tambu Fever!
www.jouvay.com/SFcarnaval2K4.htm .
This year, the band is going back to some of the original instruments used in the Caribbean. The lyrics of the theme song calls on the revellers to stop and take a listen to the past, hear the tambu bamboo start to sound, hear the cowbells, shack and steel pan start to play! They are recreating these instruments; the following is an excellent description of the history: www.seetobago.com/trinidad/pan/ref/tamboo2.htm .

Mas Makers Massive, directed by Stephen Tiffenson of Trinidad, presents the Roaring Twenties, featuring jazz icons/Download legends Josephine Baker, Louis Armstrong, etc. The costumes and choreography incorporate swing and charleston into contemporary soca. www.carnaval.com/masmakers/
Mas Makers Massive supports the youth in East Oakland. Many of the Carnaval Contingents make major efforts to include children, and teach them art, creativity, and culture. It is a priceless gift.

Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts is focusing on Carnaval traditions in Latin America with emphasis on the Caribbean. They will be fusing Merengue from the Dominican Republic, Bomba from Puerto Rico, Son, Conga and Rumba from Cuba, and Cumbia from Colombia. On the float will be a traditional drum from the Dominican Republic called a "Tambora"; and an accordion. Hits of the late Celia Cruz will be used, but with local and improvised lyrics. Also on display will be giant paper mache figures from Vera Cruz, Mexico, and Vejigante masks from Puerto Rico.

Sambasia is an integration of the Samba percussion traditions of Salvador, Bahia Brazil, and the Japanese Folk Drum and Dance traditions of Hachijo and Tanko Bushi within a contemporary cross-cultural framework. This year they will bring back their signature mix of multicultural bateria and dancers. After a successful debut last year as a Rio Carioca style escola, Sambasia this year pays tribute to the Northeast of Brazil featuring rhythms from Bahia. Special guest artists will perform Hawaiian Ukelele and song, Japanese Shamisen, Saxophones and Flutes, and Hip Hop.

Bolivia Corazon de America, our local Bolivian contingent, parading in the stunning costumes from Bolivia.
Their tradition is the legacy of Afro rhythms with music from native Bolivian Andes. They have won awards in all the years that they have been in our parade.

Conjunto Folklorico Panama-America, now in their 12th year with us, presents the lovely dress called Pollera,
www.somospanama.com/fotos/displayimage.php?album=4 , commemorating 100 years of Panama Independence. They have live music, composed by the Accordionist, and accompanied by drummers. They bring Panama's strong Carnaval traditions to the bay area every year.

In the parade for the first time is Energia do Samba,DownloadDownload directed by Maisa Duke. Maisa herself is nostranger to us; she was Carnaval Queen in 2002. Check out this stunning picture: www.carnaval.com/sf02/King&Q1.jpg  worth a thousand words! The theme is Alegria, the music will be provided by Sons and Daughters of Orpheus, a batucada group that had its debut in 1991. Download They play Samba, Banda, and other rhythms for Carnaval, and also appear in Dia de los Muertos. See

Association of Colombian-Americans is presenting the Carnaval de Barranquilla, one of the most popular Carnavals in the Western Hemisphere, and recognized by UNESCU as a "masterpiece of the oral and immaterial patrimony of humanity" in 2003. Outstanding by its traditional and popular forms of expression for more than a century, it combines music, dance, rituals and mythology. Born of the union between European Carnavals and the cultural manifestations of resistance of the African natives, it has allowed a Colombian town to preserve its
myths, beliefs and expressions.
is one of many sites of information on the web. Beatriz Restrepo, the choreographer, has been active in the Bay Area for many years.
www.theguardsman.com/20021009/columbiandance.html .

All Ah We, www.allahwe.org , an active group Download
that plays in the Berkeley Flea Market, the "How Berkeley Can You Be" parade, and other venues, is going into its 12th year, and Suzanne Ludlum ("Sweetwaist") is bringing out an award-winning Caribbean style masquerade production accompanied by master drummers from Africa and the Caribbean. They have unique, fun to wear costumes (I know this firsthand!).

The Bay Area Boricuas is our Puerto Rican folkloric
group. They play Bomba using wonderful drums called Barriles, accompanied by song and dance, all
interconnected. The dance is improvised; steps are
in response to the lead drum and, at the same time,
challenge its beat. This kind of communication among drummer, singer, and dancer, came directly from Africa, although it is also found in Brazil, Belize, and the rest of the Caribbean, it is seldom mentioned or taught here in San Francisco. www.puertorico-herald.org/issues/2002/vol6n27/BombaPlena
They promise to have typical Puerto Rican carnaval
masks and garments, like those shown here:

Ghungroo Dance Academy, which premiered last year, is a very active Indian Folk Dance School. Their vivacious music and graceful folk dances complement SF Carnaval, and those of us who saw their performance at the Carnaval Awards Ceremony last year will never forget the high-energy dance and music.

Grupo Aztlan de San Francisco, a Mexican Folkloric group, will present Veracruz Carnaval. Comparsa and Afro-Cuban music, with Brazilian style costumes illustrate the theme: Life is a Carnaval.

Mixcoatl-Anahuac are Aztec dancers from the Valley of Tenochtitlan (now Mexico City), keeping tradition alive from father to son. www.tlanextli.com/links.html
The White Eagle dance symbolizes the eternal struggle between the eagles that symbolize the heaven, and the jaguar that symbolizes the earth. The balance between day-night, good-bad, hot-cold.

Mo' Love, a contingent with a real, live Steelband, joins us for the fourth time with its enchanting music. "Still sailin' the world in search of peace and mo' love. The sailor band escorts theDownload  steelband players and jumps up to their enchanting music. The tradition comes from Trinidad, birthplace of the steel drum. Sailor dance is a freewheeling interpretation of the swagger of a drunken sailor and strut of proud admirals. The basic white outfit of the sailor is a canvas on which to paint/ design whatever the individual wishes to express.

Nueva Generacion Salsera, formerly Buena Vida Salsa Club, has a live band, and hot dancing. Rueda de Canino is the hip, sexy salsa version of square dancing. A group of people dances in a circle to salsa music, exchanging partners. Rueda is not choreographed. It requires having rhythm, style and the ability to listen and respond quickly to the leader's call.

Projection Folklorica Guatemalteca Xelaju presents folk dances from Guatemala. Sones played by the marimba, a special drum, and a flute, will highlight dances and customs from various parts. All costumes are handmade.

Pistahan is a group from the Philippines, with a theme of "recuerdos de ayer/ memories of yesterday." Spanish colonial heritage as reflected in dance, music, costumes and cultural artifacts will be displayed on the float. With 7,107 islands, the folk dances and rituals are as varied as there are villages and different cultural influences. "Jota" dances or Maria Clara costumes denote provincial rural life of the elite in colonial society. The lowland ricefield dances of "Tinikling", "Maglalatik" and barrio fiesta mode show life of the common folk. This year they feature the Hispanic roots of the culture.

Quimbanda is directed by Gamo da Paz, master drummer in the Candomble style of Brazil, in conjunction with Tania Santiago, choreographer. www.aguasdabahia.com /. The music incorporates rhythms from Pernambuco and Rio as breaks and lead-ins to various styles of Samba Reggae. Through the spirit of the drum, song and dance, they celebrate culture, energy, and lives. Samba Reggae as played by the Afro-Blocos in Carnaval in Bahia evolved out of Candomble, Samba and Reggae music. It is the music of resistance and pride. The Blocos in the late 70's and 80's led a Black Pride movement inspired in part by the US movement of the 60's and revolutions in the African Continent. Festa da Musica!

We are delighted to welcome the Spirit of Polynesia after a long absence. They are expressing the spirit of the Islands of the South Pacific through Tahitian music and dance. This troupe is the most traveled Polynesian dance company in the world. www.spiritofpolynesia.com .

Westcoast Lion Dance Troupe represents a small portion of Chinese culture. It is fitting to add another culture to the diverse line up of cultural communities making up the San Francisco Carnaval Parade.
www.cam.ac.uk/societies/ldt/ld.htm .
There are many different appearances of a lion head. Such differences are lions with long white beards to indicate age and wisdom, fluffy fur to show playfulness, and black fur to characterize fierceness. Various colors add variety to the arsenal of lion dance teams. No lion head looks the same.

Norcal Waste Systems, now in their 9th year as a parade contingent, presents a crowd-pleasing drill team of garbage collectors and huge, shiny cans on wheels. Antique trucks, a band playing recycled instruments, and instruments made by artists from recycled materials make this one of our most unique contingents.

Oya Nike, a West African/ Yoruban group, is now in its 10th year in the San Francisco Carnaval. Rooted in the Yoruba tradition, Oya Nike celebrates the Bata drum, which speaks to the Orishas, calling us together to come dance with the gods. You will see timelessly traditional masquerades, coming directly from Africa, including belly dancing www.mysticsun.com ; as well as ceremonial and ritual costumes being paraded just as though you were in Africa, www.wguides.com/city/39/241_7518.cfm
and musicians performing in tribute to West Africa/ tribal roots music.

Samba do Coracao has participated in SF Carnaval for 9 years. They are presenting a tribute to Rio de Janeiro, the Cidade Maravilhosa. The rhythm of this city is a mixture ofDownload beauty and chaos, a spectacular fantasy, where the poor parade as the rich and the rich parade with the poor. The beach is their playground, samba is their music, and carnaval is their party. The samba has its roots in the Angolan or Congolese round dance. Rio's world famous Carnaval parade is made up of the biggest and most spectacular samba schools, such as Mangeira, Beija-Flor, Imperatriz, and Mocidade, whose participants are overwhelmingly made up of working class and poor people from the city's sprawling suburbs. In true Rio style, the costumes are flashy, shiny, sequinned fabrics and feathers. They will dazzle you with bright and flashy display of visuals and the live bateria.

In harmony with the theme of "Festival of the Drums", Samba Para O Povo honors the synergy and mutual love betweenDownload the drummers and the dancers. Samba dancers say that they need the living rhythm of live drummers to fully experience their movements. The drummers are inspired by the beauty of the samba dancers in their midst. It is the rhythm of their respective hearts, the synchronicity of the dancers' feet and the musicians' hands on the skin of the drum which unites us with the spirit of the ancient spirits of all humans. All of us, regardless of color or ethnicity, are the children of Mother Africa. We dance and sing to the rhythms she gave to us in the cradle of humanity. www.sambao.com

Xiuhcoatl Danza Azteca, in the parade for many years, is a style of Aztec dance called Splendor. Each dancer makes his own costume by hand, using design color and style to honor a particular deity. The drum, outlawed in Mexico for 400 years, is used to assist dancers in their prayers to the creator. Danza Azteca honors the 4 cardinal directions, the ancestors, the seasons of the year, as well as several deities.



Carnavalesca Josephine Morada is the enchantress who constantly amazes us with her visually dazzling costume designs and choreography.  Click here, or her picture to read her bio.
Phil Wong, webmaster

 Academicos da Estrada formerly known as Escola Nova de Samba still consideres itself the oldest contingent in the parade. The leadership Josephine Morada and Rudy Ortiz are among the most dedicated Carnalescos we know

Buena Vista Elementary School. "We put the art in heart!" For their 16th year of participating in SF Carnaval, Buena Vista kids will play, dance and sing with heart. The theme is inspired by the sound of the heartbeat that is reproduced in drum rhythms throughout the world. They pay homage to the African rhythmic diaspora and how it has permeated musical styles of the Americas. Music is important to Buena Vista school; the playful rhythms of the children's lives, and the reality that they are the heartbeat of our community.

Everett Middle School, presents "Afro-Latino roots and connections". This theme will represent the past, present and future of the African and Latino cultures.

James Lick Middle School's theme is “Alegria en Carnaval”, portraying different dance styles in the Caribbean. There will be an interweaving of percussion tumbadoras, vocuses and other drums.

Malcolm X Academy will be exploring the beauty, rhythms and warmth of the Polynesian culture

From Southern California come 3 groups: SuperSonic Samba School, a dynamite Samba group with excellentDownload  dancers and the high quality Brazilian music that we have come to expect from them. This is the fifth year for SuperSonic here in San Francisco. They offer free dance and percussion classes in San Diego. ln keeping with the theme this year, Fiesta de Tambores, they see the drum as the symbol of the single voice of all humanity. A number of local San Francisco participants now travel South to join SuperSonic at various carnavals "down South".

Grupo Cultural Bolivia Andina, Carnaval afficionados who have traveled to Carnaval SF for fourteen years, are back for more. This year they bring a modernized version of Saya, a dance that comes from the Afro-Bolivano. The music has a special beat that causes the movement of the hips. The costumes, direct from Bolivia, include bells and a whip for the men, and colorful miniskirts for the women.

Also from Southern Cal, 3NI Production brings a unique Asian/African mix; fan dancers from the far east and west, in a graceful, elegant dance to appease royalty, with a touch of Caribbean flavor added for fun. This band won Best Band of LA Carnival for the last two years. What an honor to have them!

All carnaval information can be accessed at www.carnaval.com  andDownload  www.carnavalsf.com .
Some of the groups also have their own website, and in some instances l have found pictures or information about the subject.

San Francisco Carnaval Main page
Carnaval Bay Area Events

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