Loud, brash, and fun. Three terms you could apply to Veronicas in Playa de Las Americas, and Las Vegas, the American gaming capital, which just happens to be the theme of the 2017 Arona Carnaval. I had the ZZ Top version of Viva Las Vegas buzzing in my head as I dived into the preparations for the Cabalgata opening parade in the slip road outside the Veronicas strip.
Often thought of as the Los Cristianos Carnaval, the Arona Carnaval always kicks off in Playa de Las Americas on a Saturday evening. A good mix of early evening revellers and afternoon sports watchers in the local bars, were spell bound by the frantic last minute adjustments to costumes as the music and dance groups assembled on their alloted starting grid. Coaches on the main road above arrived packed with feathers, sequins, drums, and high heels as year long plans came together in a blaze of colour.
So what´s the difference between the Cabalgata and Coso closing parade? The opening parade is less outrageous as it features many of the younger groups, everything is more accessable at ground level ( the big high floats come later with the Coso) and it has more of a family feel to it. The candidates for the showpiece events like Carnaval Queen, were there in more formal wear and free of the metal support cages that help them glide across the big stage when trying to win their crowns. The hopeful six for the main crown looked magnificent in their matching red and silver outfits.
There´s always at least a nod towards the theme of the year, playing cards were a safe bet this time. Lots of old characters were lurking, religious figures in particular, the church is the main butt of the jokes at Carnaval time. Lent was always strictly imposed on the poor people at this time of year, taking meat out of an already limited diet. In recent years there has been a big influx of cartoon and super heroe influenced costumes,call me old fashioned but I like to see the fairy tale figures out in force.
Cinderella was flashing her twinkling slipper, and the Queen of Hearts was shadowed by her little white rabbit. The parade is a long walk down through the golden mile to the Oasis shopping centre, so those with heavier outfits did their best to pace themselves.The royal candidates got chauffered in open top cars while others gave the illusion of getting a lift but still had to do the foot work. As an official opening, the Cabalgata throws down the gauntlet for the entertainment to come over the following week and a bit. Many of those taking part in the first parade will also pop up again in the Coso, along with lots of cheeky works in progress that will give the organisers a few grey hairs as they wait to see how far the jokers will go.
Prepare to dance, and prepare for late nights. The showground in Los Cristianos will be the focal point for the duration. There´s a fun fair a short stagger away, with a giant sized ferris wheel, listen out for the sound of beating drums, roll those dice, and off we go.