The world’s biggest party — Carnaval — culminated and concluded Tuesday. While Rio is the number one Carnaval destination, Argentina throws some serious celebrations of its own, from non-stop Gualeguaychu madness to dances in the streets of Buenos Aires.
The Carnaval celebrations in Buenos Aires consist of murgas and corsos. The corsos are the parades, and murga refers to the art, or the song and dance, and the community-based groups that perform it. The celebrations are a mix of loud drum beats, singing, flamboyant costumes laden with fringe and people moving in what looks like a mix of fluid break dancing and capoeira, touching the ground and kicking high. People of all ages come out, and children, as well as some adults, sprint around the periphery, spraying each other mercilessly with foam, shrieking and giggling. (Enter corso/murga territory at your own risk. My friends and I were doused, but it’s all in good fun and quickly dissolves without a trace.) The photos below are from the corso I attended in Palermo, on Darwin between Gorriti and Cabrera streets.
One of my good friends from college, an anthropology major, wrote her senior thesis about murga, based on research she conducted and collected here in Buenos Aires. Funny enough, she is currently living in another Carnival capital, New Orleans. While she understandably couldn’t send me an email on Mardi Gras, she was kind enough to send me one the following day. Here’s an excerpt:
Murga is a form of popular art — that is, of the people. Murgas are groups that form according to neighborhood, and largely represent the neighborhoods from which they come, though people from all over the city are welcome to join. Murgas come together year-round to practice murga, which involves dancing, drumming and singing (less musical, more parody-esque; one song type of song that murgas sing is called a crítica and jokes or parodies current events and figureheads). In one way, the goal of a murga is to salir en las calles durante todo el Carnaval (go out on the streets for all of Carnaval). But the community that forms year-round through a murga is also essential.
Coming Friday: Video of the Palermo murga from March 7, 2011 and information about cultural tensions related to murga, thanks to our resident scholar and my friend, Elena.
–Karina for TKGO, with the much-appreciated expertise of Elena Pinksy