Comparsas in Tenerife, Carnival history

The comparsas in Tenerife are groups of musicians, singers and dancers that emulated, in their beginnings, the samba schools of the carnival of Rio de Janeiro. The first comparsa in Tenerife was Los Rumberos, created in the sixties by Manuel Monzón. Today, the numerous comparsas of the Tenerife carnival have their own style and are fully integrated into the festival.

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, one of the best in the world

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife holds the highest consideration for festivals granted by the Ministry of Tourism in Spain. It has been declared a Festival of International Tourist Interest. It is considered the second most popular and internationally known carnival, after those held in Rio de Janeiro. In fact, the city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is twinned with the city of Rio de Janeiro for this reason.

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has two distinct parts: the "official" carnival and the street carnival. The official carnival has more than 100 groups with an average of 50 members each.Murgas, comparsas, costume groups, rondallas and musical groups. The street carnival is the participation of the citizens themselves in the party.

Although with almost total certainty, the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife has been celebrated since the first European settlements. The first written references date from the end of the 18th century. Through the writings of visitors and later, through official dispositions that sought social order during its celebration.

History of the comparsas in Tenerife

The Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife made history when one of its founders, Manolo Monzón, on his return from Venezuela, created in 1965 a genre hitherto unheard of in the Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife: the comparsas. As we have already said, the first comparsa of Tenerife was Los Rumberos, created in the sixties by Manuel Monzón and a group of his friends from the Mercado Nuestra Señora de África.

Currently, there are 9 groups of this modality that every year with effort and passion participate, not only in the carnival, but in the great variety of events to which they are invited.

Although they take the name of groups that participated in the Santa Cruz Carnival in the first third of the 19th century, the groups known today as "comparsas" emerged in 1965, with the appearance of a group: "Los Rumberos". This comparsa was made up of people of both sexes, grouped in parrandas and dance troupes and dressed in costumes with Caribbean motifs.

The comparsas in Tenerife have South American-inspired airs, with their own choreographies and influenced, at first, by the "escolas de samba" of the Rio de Janeiro Carnival. From the Rio Carnival they also adopted the use of batucada for their street parades.

We must highlight its annual contest on stage, which dates back to 1971, and its street contest, called "Ritmo y Armonía", where the various comparsas compete to be the best in parade choreography and batucada.

Being a member of a comparsa entails an enormous sacrifice and dedication that can only be overcome with enthusiasm and a lot of love, taking into account that they are not professionals, but simply in love and passionate about the carnival.

When we talk about tourism promotion of the carnival or of our island, the comparsa plays a leading role, as they are already a show that is part of different events, such as congresses, conventions, festivals, presentations, galas and any celebration where you want to put rhythm and color.

The different "comparsas" of Tenerife and their international tour

Los Rumberos was the first comparsa to leave the Canary Islands, visiting Cadiz, Madrid, Paris, Viareggio in Italy and Havana.

Another classic Carnival comparsa is Los Cariocas founded by Vicente Cruz and Eleuterio García in Valleseco in 1969. A benchmark for this coastal neighborhood of Santa Cruz. In its 50 years of history it has become the most awarded dance and parranda group in the history of these festivities. This has allowed it to carry the name of the Carnival of Tenerife to countless corners not only in Spain, but also in many other countries.

Another very popular and awarded comparsa is Joroperos . This could currently be the most international comparsa, having visited France 18 times, England 7 times, Germany 3 times, Italy 3 times and twice they have performed in Belgium and Switzerland. They have also been to Holland, Croatia, Transylvania and Colombia.

If you are interested in the festivities, culture and traditions of the Canary Islands, here is a link to our section on Culture and Traditions at Marca Canaria.

Paula Vera

Photos: eldí; Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Cabildo de Tenerife, Santa Cruz de Tenerife City Hall.


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