Paña di Karnaval

What once started as a Caribbean carnival grew over the years into a unique Curaçao variant of this global folk festival. Calviany told us the story of his father who took the initiative to play tumba and other Curaçaoan music. That went through trial and error.

“In the 1970s music from the English-speaking Caribbean islands (such as calypso and soca) was commonly heard during the carnival season. My father had found a couple of musicians to form a carnival group. The plan was to play original tumba music. Everything was ready for the big parade. Unfortunately my father got into a major argument with the other group members. Three weeks before the parade he decided to cancel all planned activities.”

One of the first carnival celebrations in Curaçao was organized in 1901 by a group of Venezuelans who lived temporarily on the island. There was a parade and in the afternoon a masquerade ball at the home of the Venezuelan trade agent Figueredo. Up until the 1950s carnival celebrations remained elitist. Local participation was very low.

In 1971 the Komité Karnaval Kòrsou (Carnival Committee Curaçao) was founded to ensure the participation of people of every nationality and profession or trade in the celebration of Carnival. That year the slogan was ‘Karnaval pa un i tur i pa uni tur’ (Carnival for one and all and uniting all). Tumba music was introduced as the road march.

“The plan was to play original tambu music.”