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Carnaval del Sol will present French trailblazer Gambeat in Jonathan Rogers Park

Carnaval del Sol Gambeat
French DJ and musician Gambeat performed across Colombia in the early 1990s in the midst of a civil war. Photo by Thesupermat.

This summer’s Carnaval del Sol will open with a raucous dance party headlined by a high-profile French double bassist, producer, author, and composer. Gambeat, the stage name of Jean Michel Dercourt, launched his career in the 1980s with Zgeg Boogie Boys and Hell’s Crack. Later in the decade, he befriended Manu Chau, a member of Mano Negra, and became the double bassist on the band’s “El expres ó del hielo y del fuego” project.

They famously travelled by rail to perform through Colombia, which was then in the midst of a civil war. Mano Negra’s story was told in journalist Ramon Chao’s book, The Train of Ice and Fire.

Since then, Gambeat has worked with Calypso Rose, Sergent Garcia, Fermin Muguruza, Claudio Capeo, and Naaman. He also created a line of clothing, which he made at home and markets on various tours.

His band, DJ Gambeat y la Grooving Familia, will perform on July 5 at Carnaval del Sol’s opening night party at the Granville Island Beer Plaza at Jonathan Rogers Park. Gambeat’s electronic group weaves together reggae, salsa, dub, and cumbia.

Guest performers DJ Hera and DJ La Zonida will also supply music. In addition, the Vancouver Pride Society is presenting drag shows by Mya, Malandro, and Visa. Fans of Drag Race España may recall that Visa was a contestant in the third season.

Tickets are $25 for the event, which will feature a limited edition Carnaval del Sol cerveza created for the occasion by Granville Island Brewing.

Carnaval del Sol
Mexican drag queen Visa will perform at Carnaval del Sol.

Carnaval del Sol runs for three days

The Latin American festival continues through the weekend on July 6 and 7 at Jonathan Rogers Park. Plenty of musicians will perform in the main plaza, known as Mucho Burrito Plaza del Sol, including Selena tribute artist Ivonne Ley, Puerto Rican visiting artist Chesca, and the salsa-meringue-bachata-reggaeton group La Linea.

There will also be more than 30 dishes from 20 countries in the Food Plaza. And in the new Ascenda Indigenous Plaza, guests can learn about the roots of traditional Latin American dances through discussions and performances.

There will also be a new Cabrón Cocktail Plaza for those keen to imbibe in tequila-based, canned cocktails.

One- and two-day passes range from $17 to $40, with kids under 12 and seniors 65 years and older receiving free admission.

Carnaval del Sol was founded in 2010 by marketing and business development officer Paola Murillo. The Colombian-born Murillo is also executive director of Latincouver. Its mission is to create a socio-economic space to promote relationships and cultural exchange among Latin Americans and the Canadian mosaic.

The first festival was at the Hellenic Community of Vancouver’s Greek Orthodox Church. In other years, it’s been in downtown Vancouver, Concord Pacific Place, Jonathan Rogers Park, and David Lam Park.

Last year, Murillo told Pancouver that her dream is to have a Latin American plaza that could serve as a permanent home for the festival.

Paola Murillo 3
Latincouver executive director Paola Murillo launched Carnaval del Sol in 2010.

Flamenco, Tango and Wine on the North Shore

In the meantime, Latincouver is planning three other events in July.

Flamenco, Tango and Wine at North Vancouver’s Pipe Shop on July 11 will feature flamenco by France’s Quairo ensemble and tango by Montreal-based Tango in Fusion. Tickets are $130 to $150 through the Latincouver website.

Then on July 12 and 13, Latincouver will host a two-day soccer tournament at Empire Field in Hastings Park. Teams can register for $300 to $500.

The third event—Brazilian Festival—will be at the Fox Cabaret on July 19. Two top Brazilian roots musicians in Canada, Flavia Nascimento and Tio Chorinho, will perform. Also appearing will be AmarElas, a Vancouver Brazilian cover group. Tickets are $20 to $25 and are available online.

Carnaval del Sol runs from July 5 to 7 at Jonathan Rogers Park. Visit the Carnaval del Sol website for more information and tickets. For information on Latincouver, visit its website. Follow Pancouver on Twitter @PancouverMedia and on Instagram @PancouverMedia.

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Charlie Smith

Charlie Smith

Pancouver editor Charlie Smith has worked as a Vancouver journalist in print, radio, and television for more than three decades.

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We would like to acknowledge that we are gathered on the traditional and unceded territories of the Coast Salish peoples of the xʷməθkwəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), and Səl̓ílwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) Nations. With this acknowledgement, we thank the Indigenous peoples who still live on and care for this land.