Carnival season is upon us, and though Brazil just had their week-long blowout, the Caribbean is just getting started. Every year on February 27, the sounds of bells, whistles, and vejigazos fill the air as Dominicans of all ages pour into the streets to celebrate their independence day. Though historically rooted, Dominican Republic’s carnival mixes magical and religious elements, ranging from rhythmic whip cracking, to the iconic demon masks worn by dancers, to the food, alcohol, and music that permeate every moment of the festivities.
To try and capture the energy of the Dominican carnival tradition, Max Cueto from La Casetera, Quisqueya’s premier indie music publication, has curated a playlist that draws from the extensive spectrum of Caribbean rhythms. He says, “Dominican carnival is color, music, palos, Diablos Cojuelos, Gagá, Alíbabas, Afro-Antillean traditions, street bands, and tons of flavor.” The playlist includes classics like “El Baile en la Calle,” as well as Top 40 hits like “Llegan Los Montros Men,” plus plenty of cult folk references, all of which reflect the layers of sound the Dominican Republic’s rich cultural heritage has to offer.