Are You Ready for Carnival?
In a city crowded with cultural events and festivals, the D.C. Caribbean Carnival stands out as one of the parties of the year. One Saturday every June, elaborately costumed dancers and steel pan bands wind down Georgia Avenue from Missouri Avenue to Barry Place, near Howard University, where a large outdoor celebration takes place with live music, craft vendors and delicious food.
This year's Carnival takes place on June 23, but it's not too soon to get in the spirit. The Glorious Saturday Fete, the official kickoff for the buildup to Carnival, is Saturday night at Zanzibar on the Waterfront. "We'll create the atmosphere of Carnival," with music, food and dancing, explains Loughton Sargeant, the executive director of the D.C. Caribbean Carnival. "We'll create the hype."
From 10 p.m. until 3 a.m., DJs Sprang International, Andy Mix, Shiloh International and Hazzard provide a mix of soca, reggae, dancehall and hip-hop. Some of the more fanciful costumes will be on display, and Sargeant promises door prizes that include airline tickets and gift baskets with "items from the islands."
It should be a great party, but if you can't make it out, there will be plenty of other chances to celebrate. Before the Carnival begins, Sargeant promises, "there will be more than 20 parties" related to the festival. "From now on, you will see one to two parties every weekend."
As in Rio, New Orleans and Trinidad and Tobago, a number of groups and bands march in the parade, each with its own identity and sound. Over the next few months, there will be fundraising events that are open to all. Longtime D.C. Carnival participants De Garage Boyz, for example, are throwing a cookout next weekend with DJs, live music and a menu of jerk chicken and curried goat, chicken and crab.
Sargeant is excited about what he calls "a major event" at the Hard Rock Cafe on May 19, but he can't provide details yet. Keep watching the Carnival's official Web site, www.dccaribbeancarnival.com, for more information.
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