Montevideo, January 6 (EFE). – With a colorful parade and to the beat of their own drums, Uruguayan Comarasas will take to the streets on Friday to celebrate San Baltasar in a festive night in which tradition prevails over the typical carnival competition “calls”, which will take place in February.
In Montevideo almost empty for the summer holidays, the sunset dyes the sky orange and performs the ancient ritual: armed round the corner, drums appear.
These are the groupings of the comparsas, distinct groups of the Uruguayan candombe, which practiced their percussion before the “Llamadas de San Baltasar” due to the “tradition” of that premiere inherited from the colonial era, when it was on the day de Reyes. African slaves celebrated this saint.
This was highlighted to EFE during a rehearsal by La Facala string leader Alexandre Cortés, who explains the difference between this case and the instance of Classic Calls, which this year takes place on February 10 and 11.
“One is competition and the other is more imitative, everyone takes to the streets to celebrate because it is a celebration of San Benito and San Baltasar that has been celebrated since Candombe began,” she predicts, “Let it be a festival” of “peace” and “harmony”.
Similar is expressed by Uganda’s manager Rodrigo Abreu, for whom history is “very important”.
“Our group is very much connected to (the calls of) San Baltasar and for the new generations who are already taking on the rituals of January 6th this is a great responsibility as we have to say always present,” he points out.
However, Abreu and Cortés also hint at the preparations for February, when, in a more “organized” way and with other costumes, the Comparsas will gather for the solemn Llamadas parade.
“We’ve been preparing since last April,” Abreu says, to which Uganda member Martin Rora adds that the slogan for his show this year will be “To Racism and Colors” and will honor social activists and Afro-religionists. – Uruguayans Amanda Rora and Agapito Carrizo.
“For us it is very important to place a comparsa in relation to these issues,” says Rora, who explains that colors represent “diversity,” as opposed to racism as a structural problem that “distinguishes some people over others based on their skin color,” or ethnicity.
For his part, Cortez says that La Vassala named his proposal “Ancestral 2023” in honor of the African tribes that originated in Candombe, and he will seek to defend in his presentation the typical characters of comparsa: “gramillero”, “mama vieja” and “toilet brush”.
“The theme of archetypal characters (…) is partly what is lost. So they are as if three tribes protect, there is a tribe of warriors, one of hunters and the royal guard, who describes the highlights that the show will be accompanied by a distinctive rhythm that they “play” in addition to the bass.
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