Beauty (Pageant) and the (Vallenato/Champeta) Bands

Tonight was Puerto Colombia’s Sirenato de Cumbia, or in other words, the municipality’s dancing beauty pageant for Carnaval. All the queens from the small towns that constitute the municipality come here for a three-day festival with a parade, a bathing suit competition and a cumbia dance off. They were dressed to the nines (or tens or elevens), with headpieces, rhinestones, polyester and a lot of eyeliner!

After the coronation, surprise! Live concert with Kevin Florez (a local champeta sensation and someone whose songs I actually know!) and Kvrass (a local vallenato band whose songs I do not know). As I write, the concert is still going on, but this gringa needs to sleep.

What is a cumbia contest/coronation/outdoor champeta concert/outdoor vallenato concert like?

1. Loud. Even from the “free” section. But fun! Better than gringo two-step shuffle concert dancing 😛

2. Shaving cream, corn flour and fireworks. In my hair. Not the fireworks. Just the smoke.

3. My students saw me dancing. Uh-oh…this means even MORE 8th graders trying to get me to dance with them.

4. Two kids watched me for a good half hour before coming over to ask: “are you a famous actress?” No, but thanks for watching! I didn’t know how to say, “do you want my autograph?” in Spanish.

5. My amigo who invited me still calls me Sasha, but he’s a good champeta teacher, so I let it slide.

6. Apparently having the riot police at a concert is normal?

7. Carnaval means the more colors you can wear at once, the better. Primary colors are advised.

8. Cumbia still fascinates me and it was incredible to see the pros! Some danced with the traditional lit candles, passing the torch back and forth while dancing. I can’t imagine the skill it takes to carry a lit candle, manage a full skirt, smile at the TV cameras and dance all while keeping your hairpiece from catching on fire.

9. There is so much town pride! It’s inspiring!

10. Moral of the story: my pueblito knows how to throw a party!


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