2.26.2009

Best Birthday Party EVER

Gentle readers,
You missed one hell of a birthday party down here! For my birthday, the whole town showed up to party in the street all day, and all night. We had a parade, fireworks, 3 or 4 drum bands, ladies in costumes seriously shakin what their mamas gave em, a float with mermaids on it, lots and lots of dancing, and later on the police even showed up and shut the party down.
Ok, ok, ok, so it was the last day of Carnival, but it was coincidentally my birthday, too.
Everyone comes out for Carnival. Kids stay up late. Grannies come out to dance in the street. Everybody dances and sings and makes merry, and it is so joyful and celebratory. It doesn´t feel like a horrible drunk fest, like ACL or Mardi Gras in the Quarter, it feels like a huge, happy, kind of crazy, small town party.
In the evening, the bands start making their way up the main street. They move really slowly, so it might take an hour or more to walk the 3/4 mile length of main street.
In front of the bands are the dancers, arranged by age. The tiniest gals are in the front, the grown ladies are in the back right up by the band. The front row was little kids about 3 or 4 years old, dancing and having tons of fun!! Then some bigger kids, then teenage girls, then the adults. Everyone was dancing and shakin their tail feathers. These gals could DANCE.
Behind the ladies was the band. They wore matching outfits that coordinated with the dancing ladies, and had feathers and ornaments decorating their drums. This was serious drumming, folks. They were tight. These guys do not take their task lightly; they have been practicing nightly at least for a month, and kept playing, nonstop, for hours and hours on parade night.
Behind the band was a drove of folks singing and clapping and dancing.
Behind that, there was a float with the Carnival beauty queens on it, in costume, waving and dancing.
Following the float were a bunch of kids shooting water guns, and twirling bandanas.
Repeat that formula 3 or 4 more times, and you have the Carnival parade!
Add on some fireworks in the park, on the sidestreets, and from balconies.
Now, imagine everyone as really happy and joyful, and dancing, dancing, dancing. Yay! So fun!
What was so fantastic about this, in addition to the dancing and the drumming and the fireworks, was that it was not for the tourists. It was all about the folks in the town doing this for themselves, because this is how families here do Carnival. It was great!
It was the best birthday party EVER.
I am lobbying for next year´s Birthday Birthday Week Week to happen here in Panama. Start saving your money now and come down with me!
Here are some video clips. . .same old crappy hand-held cinematography, same old horrible audio, but you´ll love it. . .I promise.

video video video video

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