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We saw a carnival in the Bahamas! The Marina Village in the luxurious resort Atlantis on Paradise Island organizes a mini-carnival on weekend nights (or maybe every night, I don’t know) for the entertainment of its guests. About ten-twenty locals dressed in traditional costumes walked, danced, played music, and sang along the main alley while the crowd of tourists gathered around them and joined in the festivity.

The costumes were gorgeous: long robes and lavish head adornment in bright colors with feathers and beads. The atmosphere was great!

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The Marina Village carnival reminded me of a similar event in Bulgaria.

The Kukeri Processions

In January, Bulgarian men dress up as Kukeri, ferocious beasts with coats of fur and feathers and large masks with fangs, beaks, and wings who scare the cold and the evil winter spirits away. The kukeri dance around the streets and ring big copper bells (chans).

By tradition, kukeri are young men and bachelors. They gather in groups and every group has a leader. There are similar characters in every group – there is a bride and groom, an old grandmother, a gypsy man with a dancing bear, a king; and all of them are men. Some of the more flamboyant costumes have wolf and fox fur and heads or paws, and real stag horns. Some masks are funny, and some are literally hideous and scary. The kukeri perform different rituals for fertility and good harvest.

The ritual is very typical of Eastern Bulgaria. The biggest annual kukeri carnival takes place in Pernik, just outside of Sofia.

Read more about the Kukeri Processions here. This is a good website on various carnivals around the world and also features articles on the Bulgarian traditions  martenitzi and Trifon Zarezan.


My belly-dancing teacher says that motion is joy. Through movement, you become comfortable in your body and find the center of your vital energy. While dancing, she says, learn to feel good about stretching your whole spine from the neck to the tail. Reach out your long arms from the shoulder to the tip of the finger and feel every muscle on the way. Then curve back like a cat and let the veil caress you while you relax. Feel good about moving, and your audience will enjoy your dance.    

She says that different movements evoke different sensations, but there is one movement that best concentrates and amplifies the energy of a woman. It is not the skipping of the ballerina or the shaking of the latino diva; and it is definitely not the grinding of a clubber.

The most sensual motion for a woman is the undulation. Undulations follow the natural female curves. They are waves of energy that pass through the female body, the arms, the diaphragm, the arch of the back, the belly; especially the belly, where they gently massage the organs. Undulations lend us charm and gracefulness. They follow the fluidity of our flesh. They symbolize waves of pleasure or the blissful contractions of childbirth.

My belly-dancing teacher says that undulations harmonize us and makes us feel feminine and alive.

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Read more about the belly-dancing classes I’m taking here.

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