To be crowned the Carnival Queen of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria is not just for anybody. A radiant smile is not enough. You have to struggle into impossible-fitting four metre high outfits, with diametres ranging from nought to infinity. You have to keep your nerves in check as everything is decided in a flash, the moment at which the eyes of a whole island turn the lights of the Santa Catalina Park right onto you.
Can you imagine walking along a long stretch of beach dressed up as Captain Hook without anybody batting an eyelid? Or Batman? Or Rita Haywood? These and many other similar surreal picture postcard scenes are the order of the day when Maspalomas enters its Carnival time, a really unique festival that forms a long line snaking its way through the tourist resort to music and dance.
If ever there was a groundbreaking, fun, larger than life, irreverent, let-your-hair-down and over the top event, it is surely the Drag Queen Gala of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. A high octane example of the freedom of spirit of the Carnival. A magical moment in which the Santa Catalina Park becomes the most joyous epicentre for miles around.
The Carnival Procession day, a winding snake made up of floats, fitted out cars, weird and wonderful fancy dress, laughter and dancing, sets out on its journey and makes its way right across the city. From judge to history teacher, from accountant to supermarket checkout girl, all of us change our hairstyles, fancy dress, mask, even our company sometimes. All of us dancing together.
And then the time comes that all carnival lovers look forward to with a mixture of expectation and trepidation. The Burial of the Sardine, the Procession that brings the Carnival to a close. The masks are black and simulate tears, and are dragged along the ground, pulling at their own hair (without stopping dancing…..). Budding Hollywood actresses emerge, like Actor’s Studio stars, all of them essential to bring a tearful end to the capital’s carnival.