Carnival Murgas

Murgas in Tenerife
Murgas in Tenerife

What are murgas when they’re at home?

Well, they’re not murgas. They have to go out to do that. And they usually go out during Carnival.

A murga is a large, costumed choir singing a medley of popular tunes with their own lyrics. The costumes can be quite elaborate, and run from clowns, demons, big, hairy blokes dressed as schoolgirls, Arabian princes, or fairies (usually the big, hairy blokes again.) The lyrics are usually satirical, with politicians as the main targets, but anything’s fair game. Think of a cross between Monty Python and “Have I got News for You”. Actually, you need very good Spanish to follow the lyrics. After 18 years here, I still only get about half of them.

It’s all very professional, and I’m sure they start making the costumes and as soon as Christmas is over, if not earlier.

Some of them sing unaccompanied, but most use kazoos and/ or percussion. The really big spectacles are the official competitions for Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and Las Palmas – the tickets sell out in hours – but we also get some on La Palma during Carnival. In fact Los Llanos will hold a murgas festival on Sunday, February 15 at 5 pm, on the main carnival stage. And the murgas will be going around the suburbs and villages on the following Tuesday and Wednesday. They’ll be in Puerto Naos at 8pm.

At the time of writing, the Santa Cruz website is down. Watch this space.

I suspect that the satirical lyrics are at least part of the reason why Franco banned Carnival. he was a miserable so-snd-so anyway, but I’m sure the main reason he banned it was that he didn’t want crowds of people on the street with drink in their tums and politics on their minds. You know, “As soon as this pub clo-o-ses, the revolution starts.”

Posted by sheila

Sheila came to La Palma with a six month contract and has stayed 24 years so far. She used to work as a software engineer at the observatory, but now she's a writer and Starlight guide.

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