Carnival characters: the Dragons
Dragons have had a ubiquitous presence in many carnivals around the world.
They were part of the ‘Devil mas’, in early Caribbean carnivals, a noisy and dark masquerade, aimed at scaring spectators and take the ordered and clean European carnival import to the next level.
Indeed, there has always been a level of teasing, whimsical defiance in the Caribbean carnivals.
A particularity that is perhaps slowly dying down today, as the carnival traditions is becoming less of a reappropriation of music, and more an appreciation of the traditions.
Caribbean Beat Magazine explains the ritual:
“The dragon dance, known as the ‘crossing of the water’, occurs when the dragon’s path is blocked by water in drains or gutters: here the dragon exposes his rage and his cowardice. He rages at his tormentors, the sprightly winged imps, but he lives in mortal ‘fear’ of water, since water may be ‘holy’. He finally crosses the water-filled drain . . . by lying on his back in supplication to the true living God in the heavens, and flipping over the drain
The traditional characters have had a hard time competing with the commercialisation of the carnivals.
Will we see Dragons at this year’s Notting Hill parade?
Be there to find out!