The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
February 21, 2009

It’s Showtime!

Cuba Carnivale is upon us once more.

cubacarni.jpg

But will the showers hold off for us today, or is it time to think of the perhaps inevitable: do we need a SambaDome?

Carnival night parade is all about being hot and sweaty and (so it seems, near-naked), along with the inevitable music, rhythm and hypnotic samba music beats. Will the crowd break into spontaneous dance and applause this time, or merely look askance again at the funny people with feathers in their hair and sequins on their bums?

We’ll see you there tonight. 

Update: the weather was perfect. The stalls and food was great, people were incredibly well-behaved, and both the day and the night were just magical.

cubaflags.jpg

The traditional flags (hecho en Mexico!) streaming across the street made for the perfect carnival atmosphere – take away those cars and just add people!

cubastreet.jpg

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Especially raunchy, sweating, hot and naked samba dancers. Well done Mr Morley-Hall and the thousands of volunteers. Myriads of dancers and music and weird and wacky carnival floats – hard to see most the parade, due in part because of the 150,000 people lining the streets, and also because we really really do need a SambaDome. Or at least more street furniture that can be climbed upon. Amazingly, the new launching ramp style angled seats in Courtenay Place and Ghuznee St could take the massive human loads placed on them last night. But I wouldn’t be surprised to hear that a few verandahs may have suffered structural damage… Everyone ogling to get a look at the passing beauties and yes, in many cases, fruit-decorated costumes. Sadly, for a parade sponsored by Meridian, most of the floats were badly lit and so my photos were awful. There was even a giant Fish gurning and gasping along the way (I didn’t know we had a float in this year’s parade – thank you to whoever put that on for us!). Some of the dancers were naughty (was that a brothel-sponsored float with the gyrating strippers and the big red love heart?) while others were poetic and beautiful such as this one:

chandalierdance.jpg

And best of all – my favourite – the incredibly tight rhythm of the Wellington Batucada drumming machine.

batucada.jpg

davidp
22 - 02 - 09

Some of my photos of the day are here:

http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=90534&id=656665819&l=c875a

I think they should be accessible to everyone.

Maximus
23 - 02 - 09

Davidp, i don’t think the facebook connects so well with the world as you think. Flickr, on the other hand, may work. Most of my photos were rubbish – just one of those things – you really had to be there i guess….

davidp
23 - 02 - 09

Not sure I understand Max. I believe that the URL should show the album, regardless of whether you’re a FaceBook user or not, and a “friend” or not. Apologies if it doesn’t.

Photography in a situation like the Carnival is always tough because it is hard to capture the crowd and the buzz and the noise. Also, your targets are likely to be moving along with everything else around you. Sometimes you’ll catch the perfect image, but often there will be something not right about it.

Maximus
23 - 02 - 09

Gosh, you’re right. They work perfectly this time – and your photos are much better than mine. You must have a munty great flash on that thing of yours…. nice work!

DavidP
24 - 02 - 09

>You must have a munty great flash on that thing of yours

My digital SLR is having trouble focusing on things, even during the day. So I dropped it off at home and used a Canon S3IS compact for the night photos. It’s a fairly modest camera and I was surprised to see the shadow from the flash on the side of the Film Archives, right across Taranaki St.

Maximus
26 - 02 - 09

I’ve found a picture of what we really need in Wellington – the blueprints to a successfull Samba Dome / Samba Parade ground. http://www.rio.rj.gov.br/riotur/images/34-2.jpg

As it says: “Todo o conforto para os visitantes” Every comfort for visitors. More than could be said for Wellingtonians, most of whom could see very little. Something for us to work on?

LAS
26 - 02 - 09

Every comfort for visitors? We certainly need to work on this!

The group I was with included 2 little kids – one on foot and one in a small folding buggy. The amount of grief we got about that buggy from other Carnival patrons was quite astonishing. We were pushed, jostled and verbally abused, and the wee one ended up exhausted and upset by people continually banging into her.

It was quite amazing how many people either walked into or tripped over the buggy, usually while it was stationary. We hit a particularly bad bottleneck up near IkoIko, where some barriers had been erected to apparently keep those enjoying performances on the adjacent stage away from those trying to move through. When we were there, no-one was listening to the music and the footpath was an irritable throng of people shouting and shoving. We only managed 90 minutes at the Carnival before everyone was so upset at being manhandled that we left. It seemed everyone was in a huge hurry and far too many were too busy texting to take any notice of what was going on around them.

Everyone’s kids are the future of the City and I love taking mine out to experience all it has to offer. They usually have a ball (even when we take the buggy) but this was a notable exception and I came away disappointed. Imagine what they now think of Cuba Street…

While I know not every citizen is model, what I would like is tolerant and civil behaviour in public places, particularly during daylight hours. And particularly when our little folk are around, because their views and impressions will shape all our futures. It’s so important they don’t become disillusioned with cities and urban life, and that urban places welcome them even if they are riding in a buggy. Surely a few good manners is not too much to ask?

Maximus
26 - 02 - 09

LAS, i’m sure you felt aggrieved at people tripping into or over your baby buggy, but I’m on the side of the people on that one. I can’t believe that anyone would take a buggy, or a bicycle, through a packed street like Cuba St was on Saturday. Especially at the IKO pinchpoint.

It was swamped. It was wall to wall and buttock to buttock, nary a chance to squeeze a wafer more room in the thoroughfare at points. And the last thing you want to run into is a hard metallic thing with a frightened child bashing into your ankles. The view and smell from that height must be terrifying for a child, looking up at everyone’s smelly bums and scuffed knees. No fun at all. I’m sure you meant well, but as you’ve found out – its really just not the right place for a buggy. Great place for children is on your shoulders. But i reckon you should leave the buggy at home on those events in future.

Maximus
26 - 02 - 09

But still – what we perhaps need for next time – is NO pinchpoints in Cuba Mall (that was just mental planning) and some raked seating along the carnival route. Not just some – LOTS.

LAS
27 - 02 - 09

Ah Maximus, you are obviously a fit and able person who travels on foot and has the ability to swerve and dodge. Good for you. I like travelling on foot too.

But what about someone in a wheelchair? An older person who can’t swerve and dodge with such ability? Someone with a vision impairment? These are “the people” you refer to above as well! Surely you don’t think the Carnival is only for the able-bodied and sharp-elbowed?

My point is that anyone with a mobility limitation would have found the Carnival a nightmare. Not just us buggy people. And we purposefully went in the afternoon so we didn’t get tangled up in evening crowds where, I agree, it would have been pure stupidity to take a buggy.

I agree with better route planning up and down Cuba Street. Maybe up one side and down the other? Raked seating – good idea.

I love the Carnival and we saw some cool stuff. Mr Five sat on his dad’s shoulders and was particularly impressed with the man putting rubber bands on his face. Just a little more thought is required about movement around the Carnival area and it will be fabulous for everyone, as a festival in our funkiest public space should be.

davidp
27 - 02 - 09

>My point is that anyone with a mobility limitation would have found the Carnival a nightmare.

Unfortunately, there probably isn’t any way to cater for these people. The Carnival wouldn’t be the same if it weren’t based around Cuba St and Courtenay Pl. You can’t just move it to Waitangi Park or the stadium and get the same vibe. And Cuba St isn’t getting any wider.

Which is tough. But it’s ten times as bad at Notting Hill where, at times, it approached crowd densities that were worst than I ever encountered on the Tube at rush hour and had me worrying that it could turn in to a crush situation.

Getting back to the Carnival, I thought Courtenay Pl was better for crowd density than Cuba St. The bands in Pigeon Park and outside Burger Fuel were generally pretty good, there were plenty of stilt walking people, and the bus and titty painting was fun. It’d be a better bet for a family than forcing your way through the crowds.

Oh, and Max’s Samba Dome looks like it’d be ideal for motor sport or jousting as well as carnival parades.

Maximus
28 - 02 - 09

Give me Cuba St carnival over Notting Hill any day. My ears were fair bleeding after a day of that, and the crush and the sweat and the Jamaican “sound-systems” (stacks of speakers half as big as a house) could give your chest such a pounding that you felt like you were getting CPR.

But the Welly carnival has some aspects that are starting to take fruit quite nicely. The massed ranks of Batucada in teh drum off were one such – hopefully they’ll have more of the same next time. In Rio, apparently, the different regions of the city support their local dance / samba / drum troop – perhpas we should start that for next time – Kilbirnie vs Thorndon etc. Just a thought….

DavidP
4 - 01 - 10

>You must have a munty great flash on that thing of yours

My digital SLR is having trouble focusing on things, even during the day. So I dropped it off at home and used a Canon S3IS compact for the night photos. It's a fairly modest camera and I was surprised to see the shadow from the flash on the side of the Film Archives, right across Taranaki St.