Carnaval in Brazil or in Trinidad or in New Orleans is probably one of the most joyful
holidays the world knows. Two or three days and nights of high-energy music, non-stop dancing, colorful (and revealing!) costumes— hard to top that! Naturally, San Francisco, that fun-loving city, wanted in the act, so in 1979 the first SF Carnaval was held in February in Precita Park, mostly due to the efforts of a dancer named Adela Chu. In 1980, it was in Dolores Park (I think I was there!) and finally shifted over to a parade in the Mission.
With no religious history in San Francisco connecting the holiday with Lent, with the Feast before the Fast, San Franciscans just went for the Feast part. And when it was clear that the weather is better late May and June than in February, no one objected to lifting it away from the days before Ash Wednesday/ six weeks before Easter usual timing.
Hmm. Weather better? Not in these last six weeks, when every morning begins grey and sometimes continues into the afternoon and the evening. Some people are ready to go into therapy for SAD—Seasonal Affective Disorder. Like me! I biked through the misty fog down to the Mission to watch Carnaval, hoping for a spot of sun, but alas! Not a single beam of light penetrated the grey. However, the dancers held up well, didn’t seem sad. Even in their skimpy costumes, they radiated the sunny joy that one would hope from Carnaval. Weird to have people in heavy jackets watching, but as the old rhyme goes:
Whether the weather be hot
Or whether the weather be cold.
We’ll whether the weather
Whatever the weather
Whether we like it or not!
Hoping the sun will be out for our own school Samba Contest on June 6th. If you missed the citywide parade, check this one out! Kids dancing their own choreographed dances in small groups while 6th graders play the drums and bells. A San Francisco School tradition!
Minus the skimpy costumes.