Most people think that the minstrel troupes' great parade through central Cape Town, South Africa, on die Tweede Nuwe Jaar [Second New Year, January 2nd] is the be-all and end-all of the New Year's Carnival. And why wouldn't they -- it's absolutely spectacular.
(All photos copyright John Edwin Mason, 2010. Click directly on any of the images to see larger versions.)
I spent yesterday at the parade, photographing some of the troupes that I've worked with in putting together my new book on Carnival, One Love, Ghoema Beat: Inside the Cape Town Carnival(to be published in May 2010, by Random House Struik and the University of Virginia Press). Many of members of the troupes have become friends. Besides, photographing Carnival is probably the most fun that a photographer can have with his or her clothes on.
The band of the Pennsylvania Crooning Minstrels marches down Darling Street, on its way to the reviewing stand in front of City Hall.
These girls are among the many young people that receive free instruments and musical instruction from the Pennsylvanians.
During Carnival, music and dance are inseparable.
Several friends have been involved in the creation of a new troupe, the Starlites Youth Development. Now in its second year of existence, it has already made history. With 2,100 members, it's the largest troupe ever seen in Cape Town.
A member of the Starlites Youth Development troupe, with Table Mountain in the background.
Did I mention that Carnival is about having fun?
Tens of thousand of fans, including this young girl, lined the streets to watch over 60 troupes march past.
Dancers from the Fabulous Woodstock Starlites perform on Darling Street, in front of Cape Town's City Hall.
That's Jamaldien "Boeta Dienie" Jumah, owner of the Fabulous Woodstock Starlites, on the left. A successful small businessman, he bankrolls the troupe himself to a large extent.
South Africans are proud and excited to be hosting the 2010 FIFA Football (Soccer) World Cup. Several of the games will be played in Cape Town, something that's on everybody's mind around here.
Carnival is fun, but the day is long. It's tiring, especially for the young.
As wonderful as it is, the parade is not the be-all and end-all of Carnival. You can find out more by clicking here or on the Cape Town New Year's Carnival FAQ link over on the right, near the top of the page.
You can see more of my Carnival photos by clicking on the Carnival Photo Gallery link at the very top of the page.