Dancing with the Devils

Alex Quesada/Polaris, for The New York Times

In a NY Times article written by Seth Kugel, called Dancing With the Devils in the Dominican Republic, he wrote about the Carnaval celebration in La Vega.

Kugel wrote, “People come from all over the country to La Vega for the celebration.

But that changes in February, when Carnaval comes to town. Then, the quiet streets of La Vega are crowded with visitors who seem to double the population of 200,000, the clubs fill with deafening music that keeps their customers dancing until almost dawn, and – most notably – grotesquely beautiful, intricately decorated, jingle-bell-draped demons race through the streets of the jam-packed town every Sunday, whipping anyone who dares to get in their way with reinforced cow bladders that carry a surprisingly nasty sting.

It is a month peppered with street concerts that attract the country’s big music stars; of weeks spent with family members who have returned home to relive the traditions of their childhood; of days and nights filled with music – the blaring brass of merengue, the tinny guitar of bachata, both played at absurdly high volumes on huge portable speakers – that acts as a kind of nonstop soundtrack to the surreal events that unfold as Carnaval gathers steam.

Carnaval takes place on each weekend of February, with parades on Sundays, culminating with the largest one, on Feb. 27, Dominican Independence Day. Many Dominican cities and towns have their own Carnaval traditions, usually with some demonic or outrageous character as its symbol and centerpiece. But none rivals that of La Vega, and, in fact, many other cities send representatives there on the 27th to march alongside that town’s famed diablos cojuelos – horned, fanged, winged creatures whose outfits are created in ramshackle workshops by people who have been honing this skill for years…”