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  • Writer's pictureChristopher Booth

I feel like dancing

I've always loved carnival. From the small town parades in this country which generally take place around May to the large extravagant Mardi Gras events of Latin America which last several days and nights. People from all ages and walks of life often get involved and with colourful outfits, make-up and an uplifting atmosphere, they are a pleasure to both attend and photograph.

My most recent carnival-related experience or rather experiences took place in Tenerife. Research informed me that this was the place to go outside of the Americas for the best visual display of the annual celebration. Almost everyday for two weeks there is some sort of parade or carnival-event on the island. As well as the main towns, many of the villages have a procession too and by all accounts, proceedings are taken very seriously.

In addition to the traditional Mardi Gras street parades, on Ash Wednesday in the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz, I witnessed without doubt the most bizarre street party I have ever seen. Entitled the 'Entierro de la Sardina' or the 'Burial of the Sardine', a giant paper/cardboard fish on a float is marched through the streets of the principal town until it reaches the Plaza de España, the main square and is subsequently set alight. Not so strange you may think! However, those taking part in the parade dress to the theme of a funeral - a representation of carnival drawing to a close. Over the years however this appears to have developed in to some sort of free-for-all as many of the men taking part use it as an opportunity to dress-up in women's clothing, in particular their choice of undergarment, and for some reason the participants are penis-mad! Plastic and rubber phallices of all shapes and sizes are carried around by many taking part and shamelessly waved around like some sort of magic wand. One man dressed in perhaps his grandmother's Sunday best outfit presented me with a case which he opened to reveal nothing but a wide selection of all shapes and sizes of the aforementioned!

Staying with the parade until the demise of the sardine around 1am, I can only imagine how the party developed from that point. Certainly it was an experience I won't forget in a hurry.

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