Latin carnival heats up winter day in Taipei

With sultry Samba, romantic rhythms, and spicy sauces the inaugural 'Latin Carnaval' was a big hit in Taipei

Brazilian soccer coach Filipe, Samba dancer Elsie, and Brazilian grad student Valentin.

Brazilian soccer coach Filipe, Samba dancer Elsie, and Brazilian grad student Valentin. (Taiwan News photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The inaugural "Latin Carnaval" kicked off today at the Expo Park in Taipei with an estimated 5,000 visitors imbibing in a spicy mix of Latin music, dance, food, drinks, games, and parades.

Samba dancers pose with kid
Samba dancers pose with young boy.

The festival, cosponsored by ICRT and Latinos Taiwan, featured live bands and performers on two stages from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. as well as 32 booths offering a plethora of foods, drinks, handicrafts, and activities representing numerous countries throughout Latin America and the Caribbean.

Mexican Day of the Dead decorative skulls
Mexican Day of the Dead decorative skulls (Calavera).

Foreign nationals and immigrants from countries such as Mexico, Peru, Colombia, Haiti, Argentina offered samples of cuisine from their motherland.

Argentine Asado
Man cooking Argentine Asado (Barbecue).

Aside from the hypnotic rhythms pulsating from the main stage, a big crowd-pleaser was the Kickpool area, where visitors could play an adaptation of pool with soccer balls.

Team Kickpool winners
Winning Kickpool team.

At 3 p.m. a Brazilian carnival-style parade wound its way from the main stage to Maji Stage featuring drummers from Bloco Força (弗莎巴西打擊樂團), Capoeira dancers (Capoeiristas) from Mandinga Taiwan, and a troupe of Samba dancers (Passistas) lead by Elsie Sung. Once the parade reached Maji Stage, the drummers pounded a frenetic beat as the Capoeiristas showcased their skills and the Passistas strutted their stuff. The parade had an encore performance at 5 p.m.

Samba dancer Elsie Sung
Samba dancer Elsie Sung (left) poses with fellow dancer.

Some of the foreign attendees came from far-flung parts of Taiwan just to attend the festival and get a taste of home. Filipe, 21, hails from Sao Paulo, Brazil and currently works as a soccer coach at Nanhua University in Chiayi. He was impressed with the Capoeira performances because of their high degree of difficulty, but his favorite part of the festival was the percussion because he teaches drumming in Brazil.


Drummers from Bloco Força getting ready to hit Maji Stage.

Valentin, also from Sao Paulo, is a 28-year-old graduate student focusing on Buddhist Philosophy at Fo Guang University and has been in Taiwan for a year. When asked about his impression of the Taiwanese rendition of Samba, he said, "The samba was amazing, the girls are really well trained. The costumes are very heavy, so I know it's not easy." As for his impression of the Taiwanese Capoeristas, "Oh, the guys are like a legend, it's real. There are a lot of acrobatics, but it's not only acrobatics, there is also a bit of dance, you have to have the rhythm, so it's not easy. They did it really well."

Taiwanese vendor selling Mexican and Spanish handicrafts
Taiwanese vendor selling Mexican and Spanish handicrafts.

Mexican Frida Kahlo dolls
Mexican Frida Kahlo dolls

Men playing team Kickpool
Men playing team Kickpool.

Justin Caleb Cooper plays drums with his band Cloud Atlas
American musician and actor Justin Caleb Cooper plays drums with his band Cloud Atlas

Taiwanese rock band Cloud Atlas plays Latin songs
Taiwanese rock band Cloud Atlas plays covers of popular Latin songs and original compositions.

Haitian cuisine
Haitians sell samples of cuisine from their home country.


Dancers from Bailalo Dance Studio
Led by Magda Zieba (left), dancers from Bailalo Dance Studio perform Salsa routine "Rock Steady."

Couple dancing the Tango
Chiao Tung University Tango Club members Kate and Alex dance the Tango.