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COVID-19 CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC

Festivals in Tenerife and other large gatherings are still not able to be held with social distancing and other restrictions still in force. Events listed here, therefore, are subject to cancellation or change without notice. Such circumstances are beyond our control.

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Wednesday, March 03, 2021

Santa Cruz en Carnaval 1987

Carnival Queen Costume 'Tajaraste' from 1987, on display in the Casa del Carnaval

Carnival Poster 1987
Carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1987 was a moment of crucial importance in the island's and the celebration's history for a variety of reasons.

It was the first year that the carnival festivities had a theme, which in 1987 was Roma (Rome), for which the perimeter of the Plaza de España was encircled by a colonnade, joined two by two, evoking the Ionic style and giving it the appearance of a circular Roman temple. The lintel of each pair of columns was adorned with two chicharros (Atlantic horse mackerels), call 'em sardines for ease, crowned with laurels.

Most of all, 1987 was the year that the carnival made history by getting into the Guinness Book of Records, with the dance on Shrove Tuesday becoming "the largest gathering of people in an outdoor plaza to attend a concert".

Carnival Queen in 1987 was Mónica Raquel Estévez Martín, then 16, in a costume entitled, 'Tajaraste', designed by Leo Martínez and inspired by the typical costume of Tenerife, representing Almacenes El Kilo.

Maids of Honour in 1987 were: 
  1. Irene Hernández Morales with a costume entitled, "Origen de luz" (Origin of light), representing Calzados "Romea", designed by José Julio Rodríguez  
  2. Elizabeth Suárez Santos with a costume entitled, "Así pasó el cometa Halley" (This is how Halley's comet passed), representing the Casa de Venezuela en Canarias and designed by Miguel Ángel Castilla Abreu 
  3. Sandra Lobenstein Recio with a costume entitled, "Cabañuelas de febrero" (February Cabañuelas), representing Casino Taoro and designed by Marcos Marrero 
  4. María Candelaria Díaz Álvarez with a costume entitled, "XTRO siete punto omega", representing  Centro comercial Maya and designed by Justo Gutiérrez  
The senior carnival queen in 1987 was Alfonsa Rodríguez Fernández, with a costume entitled, 'Fantasía brasileña' (Brazilian Fantasy), representing the old folks home, Hogar del Pensionista Nº1 de S/C in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. 

Junior carnival queen in 1987 was María Guacimara Martín Peña with a costume entitled, 'Campanilla de los bosques' (Bell of the woods), designed by Pedro José Ortega and Juan de la Rosa and representing Almacenes Elle.



Video: Coronación Reina del Carnaval de S/C de Tenerife 1987

The Carnival Queen Gala took place in the Plaza de Toros (Santa Cruz Bullring). Further videos show the performances of the comparsas, Los Joroperos and Las Cariocas and a parade of all of the carnival personalities and vintage cars, also in the Plaza de Toros.

Mónica Estévez was interviewed 31 years later in 2018 and said that she had grown up in the next street from where designer Leo Martínez was located, surrounded with carnival from a young age. She would go there to see the girls and the costumes and was always saying she wanted to present herself as a candidate ... repeatedly. It seems that Martínez agreed to present her, pretty much just to shut her up. She didn't ask anything about the costume and never saw it complete until three days before the gala.

Santa Cruz Carnival Dance 1987

The multitudinous dance that went down in history with Celia Cruz

Celia Cruz with the Sonora Matancera and Billo's Caracas Boys led the lineup of an unforgettable Carnival Tuesday night in 1987 for the more than 240,000 attendees.

On March 3 1987, the dance on Carnival Tuesday put Santa Cruz de Tenerife into the Guinness Book of Records after gathering the astonishing number of people (240,000 was the number officially recorded by the notarial deed) dancing in the street to the songs of Celia Cruz with Sonora Matancera, Billo's Caracas Boys and Tenerife orchestras Maracaibo and Guayaba, in a show never before seen on the islands with 40,000 watts of sound and spectacular lighting. On the night of Monday to Tuesday of Carnival the last orchestra left the stage at 06.30 hours, but the audience, almost as numerous as at 11.00 at night, continued to dance to recorded music in the kiosks. Many partied on in various parts of the capital and others went to Las Teresitas to take a dip in the sea.



Video: Carnival Main Parade in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 1987

Neither the heat nor the fatigue of the previous night prevented 200,000 people from concentrating to watch the cavalcade that began at 3:30 pm on the Tuesday afternoon. The number of spectators, facilitated by the Local Police, was significant, since the population of the city at that time was 210,000 inhabitants. Some 25,000 people participated in the parade, in addition to 119 groups, 20 floats and more than 100 decorated cars. The fireworks display finale was the prologue of the great dance. The City Council's intention was that this dance be the busiest in the world and with the Celia-Billo's duo, success was assured. Almost half the island of Tenerife met in Santa Cruz that Carnival Tuesday to experience an environment impossible to describe. The Plaza de España and Candelaria, the Alameda del Duque de Santa Elena, and all the surrounding streets, were full to bursting.

Celia Cruz in Tenerife in 1987

Celia Cruz was already a living legend when she came to Tenerife

Her powerful voice opened the doors to the whole world with songs like Bemba colorá, Usted abuso, Nadie se salva de la rumba, Que le den candela, La vida es un carnaval… Until her death in 2003, Celia was the best ambassador of Tenerife's carnival. Her connection with the island became so strong that she confessed that she calmed her longing for Cuba among the islanders, and performed in a trance-like state, as if she had returned to dance and sing in her native island.

Celia passed like a whirlwind through Tenerife. She arrived on the island on February 27 and the Cuban Association of the Island was waiting for her at the South airport. Staying at the Hotel Botánico, Celia and her inseparable Pedro Knight, enjoyed the parade on Friday from the Town Hall, receiving the love and recognition of the carnival groups that noticed her presence. Thousands of people gave her a standing ovation at the two previous concerts held in the Plaza de Toros (Santa Cruz Bullring), and she continued in ecstasy singing Bemba colorá for 20 minutes. That double success attracted more anticipation for the performance of Carnival Tuesday. The queen of salsa continued in a trance and dedicated to the audience the Pasodoble Islas Canarias a cappella in one of the most memorable moments of an unbeatable[1] Carnival.

El multitudinario baile que pasó a la historia con Celia Cruz

[1] Daytime carnival in 2019 almost doubled the 1987 crowd, but was not officially noted.

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