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Monday, February 24, 2020

Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá the grandfathers of carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá at the head of the Carnival Parade on Tuesday 5 March 2019

The Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá (fondly known as La Fufa) is a carnival institution in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Whilst the order that queens and the various groups go out in the various parades is determined by their placing in the various contests in the run up to carnival in the street, La Fufa always head up the parades, owing to their position of seniority.

History of the Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá

In 1917 a chirigota from Cádiz participated in the carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife for the first time. They were sailors from the gunboat “Laya” of the Spanish Navy and that planted the seed, so that in the decade of the nineteen-twenties the first murga was born in Santa Cruz, named "El Flaco". It disappeared in 1936, when the Civil War broke out.

After the Civil War and as the carnival was celebrated with some tolerance by local authorities, in 1951 a group of friends formed a “murga” (among them the founder and director of the Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá, Enrique González Betancourt (1924-2010) - who was known as 'the father of the murgas'), which at that time had no name; they made the musical instruments themselves with items such as a sardine barrel and iron plates, the rest of the instruments (trumpets, saxophones, ...) were made of cardboard.

A few months before the 1954 carnival, the group met to organize better; chosing a name for their murga, they decided to name it an "Afilarmónica". They wore a "circus musicians" costume with huge false mustaches, so they decided that the full name would be "Afilarmónica los Mustatos". However, when everything was ready, an order from the Civil Governor of the province, Arias Navarro, prohibited the celebration of carnivals.

Nevertheless, they performed after the dates of the carnival in the capital of Tenerife (at an artistic festival, a parade of the festivities of a neighborhood of Santa Cruz, and a party in honor of General Rodrigo, in the Círculo de Amistad XII de Enero (Circle of Friendship XII of January), where they were recriminated by the then Civil Governor).

Although the number of members reduced, the group continued rehearsing every year, but without performing in public when the dates of the carnival arrived, until in 1961, when they returned to meet the streets, already with their current name.

Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá

In 1961, when they were about to go out on the street, a man appeared in the rehearsal room. When he saw that the name of the murga on the drum was that of his company, he got angry and demanded that it be removed immediately, telling the group that the name itself was nifú-nifá (neither here nor there / of no importance or relevance), but that the company was very serious and it was not necessary to confuse it with the carnival.

Which is how the current name emerged, that of Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá.

In that same year, with only one day left until the end of the carnival celebrations, the city council realised, after discussion with the Provincial Delegation of Information and Tourism, that there were several murgas parading through the streets, so they set up the first contest of murgas, which was held in the Plaza del Príncipe, with a total of five murgas participating. In addition to the Fufa were: the murga of “El Chucho” of Valleseco, the murgaMarte”, the murgaLa Silenciosa” of Tacoronte and the murga "Pepe". The winner was the Afilarmónica NiFú-NiFá, making them the winners of the First Prize of the First Murga Contest of the First Winter Festival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

In 1962 the murgas contest was held in the Santa Cruz Bullring. For the second time, La Fufa won the contest and this was repeated in the following years: (1963, 1964 and 1965).

In 1966, the then veteran Afilarmónica, made the decision to go to the contest but participated without competing for the awards, a decision that has remained ever since. It was also in 1966, when they first released the Cubanito, a song that remains in their repertoire year after year and has become something of a carnival hymn.

Historia Afilarmónica Ni Fu Ni Fa

The Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá at the head of the Carnival Parade on Tuesday 5 March 2019

The Afilarmónica Nifú Nifá at the head of the Carnival Parade on Tuesday 5 March 2019

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