Carnaval Independant- Nice’s ‘Other’ Carnival

photo: www.good-times.webshots.com

Cancelled for 2017, but hopefully will be back for 2018…

You know about the ‘official’ Carnival, but do you know about the unofficial one, the rough-and-tumble Carnaval Independant?  It started in 1990 in reaction to the city-sponsored festivities, which were perceived by locals as a hollow tourism marketing ploy.

In contrast to the official Carnival, this one started with no funding, the so-called floats roll on ‘borrowed’ supermarket carts, the music alternates between boom-box and makeshift drum corps, and the ‘costumes’ are sheets, face painting and flour bombs.   But this Carnival has heart, a grass-roots spontaneity, community spirit …and really rocks.  Actually, it rocks a little too much, and so now the city has gotten involved and provided some funding in return for less bad behavior …but even so, sometimes it still goes off the rails a bit!

A major difference with this flip-side festival is that instead of the adorable urchins spraying silly string and throwing confetti, here you have merry pranksters wielding stockings filled with flour and throwing the occasional raw egg …so dress accordingly.  Flour-flogging is actually a very important Carnival tradition going back to its medieval roots:  In the middle ages, Carnival was a period of church-sanctioned debauchery designed to let the repressed underclass let off a little steam in order to diffuse political unrest.  But whereas a costumed peasant could anonymously mock and insult the ruling class without fear of repercussions, if too many villagers showed up sans appropriate attire the rabble-rousers could be easily identified.  Hence, we have the tradition of the instant white costume for any killjoy neighbors.

Be there if you dare!

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