Story and photos by Elise-Marie Brown
From the depths of the Mission District rose a 12-hour Carnaval event on Saturday. Hosted by Zambaleta, a new world music and dance school, it brought infectious dancing, live samba music, drinks and traditional Latin American cuisine.
The event began at 11 a.m., offering improvisational sketches, Hafla, Flamenco dancing and a Turkish marching precession. The aroma of ambrosial $2 tamales was the air of the large but cozy studio, as patrons sipped sangria and swayed to the rhythms of the congas. The sides of the room were adorned with iridescent lights and vibrant multi-color banners, giving life to the converted dance hall. Red, white and green doors were pianted on the walls, creating a dancing-in-the-streets atmosphere.
Live music reigned supreme towards the end of the night, as guests twirled and stomped on the dance floor to the sounds of Colombia Parranda with Tambores de Colombia. Whether it was the echoing voice of the singer or the rumbling punch of the bass, almost everyone in the room felt the music one way or another. Some of the more shy guests stood in the back as the, while others in the front took to the dance floor as if it was their second home.
The last performance to top off the evening was a Samba dance led by Blocura. With only the rattles of beaded gourds and chest-pumping beat of the drums, four dancers jumped in front of the middle and proceeded to dip, turn and clap as they everyone in the final dance of the night. The crowd quickly caught on and soon turned into a sea of bodies moving in unison, as cheers and whistles. People left with sweat tearing down their cheeks and smiles of elation, an indicator that this new gem in the Mission is here to stay.