Aruba's Carnival - Election, Coronation and Contests
Aside from parades, the Aruban Carnival hosts a range of exciting elections & contests. Below, you can read all about the swinging melodies of the Caiso & Soca Monarch contest, the most beautiful costumes shown in the Carnival Queen election, and the funniest performances in the Prince and Pancho contest.
- Queen Election and Coronation
- Prince and Pancho Election
- Caiso & Soca Monarch (Calypso & Roadmarch Contest)
The central figure of Carnival in Aruba is the Queen. The role of the Carnival Queen is to lead all the street parades and to make a public appearance that promotes Carnival. The carnival queen represents the Aruban carnival at home and abroad during her reign. The queen is elected during the carnival period and represents one of the many Carnival groups. In addition to the Carnival Queen election, there is also a Carnival Youth Queen election and a Carnival Children's Queen election.
The Prince and Pancho are two figures in Aruba's carnival tradition. The Prince's main task is to present his Queen to the people upon her election, and to accompany her wherever she appears. The Prime Minister opens the reign of the royal court by handing over the keys of the Island to the Prince.
Pancho is the personal assistant of the Prince. His role is to tell jokes and accompany the Prince in his royal functions. The Prince and Pancho are chosen for their royal qualities. The duo is chosen for their comedy, personality, educational content and audience popularity.
Calypso & Roadmarch music is an important part of Aruba's Carnival. The music styles originate from Trinidad and were introduced during the 70's to Aruba by Trinidadian immigrants. The rhythmic lively music played around carnival has found a place in the hearts of the Arubans. Every year the Roadmarch & Calypso contest is held to crown the Roadmarch & Calypso King or Queen.
The Aruban Calypso is a slower version of the Roadmarch rhythm with as a main purpose to speak to one's mind through the Calypso song. These songs carry a message about everyday life on Aruba with no subject being sacred. Roadmarch on the other hand is the music mostly played during the parades. Roadmarch songs are focused on dancing and drives both participants and viewers with the urge to dance.
The contest title was changed to Caiso & Soca Monarch in 2013 for the Carnival 59th Season. As explained by MUSICA (Aruba Association of Musicians) the Caiso is a modern name and style for the new Calypso and Soca is the international name for the Roadmarch. How the music is presented by each band and singer will remain the same.
The Caiso & Soca Monarch consists of three days of rhythmic melodies in the pre finals, finished by a spectacular grand finale. Contestants compete against each other for the ultimate title of King or Queen. The winner of the Caiso & Soca Monarch finale wins. And by the end of the Carnival Season another prize is given to the winner for the "Road March Champion" which will be chosen for the most played song of the Season.
African slaves brought a peculiar drumbeat called the Tambu to Curacao and from there on it spread to Aruba and Bonaire. Over the years, the Tambu incorporated other musical instruments to evolve into a Dutch Antillean Meringue, which we call the Tumba.
Tumba is considered to be a music genre founded on the ABC-islands and is a true part of Aruba's culture. The Tumba's that are written and performed during the carnival period increasingly serve the same function as calypsos. Tumba is a vehicle for satire and information through a composed song.
The tumba contest takes place within the carnival period and lasts one day. The winner of the Tumba contest is crowned to Tumba King or Queen. Tumba artists sing in Papiamento only.
Although, tumba isn't part of the carnival itself, still the rules for the Tumba contest dictate that the lyrics used in the song have to do with carnival. It's just a way to honor the celebration of carnival. From time to time you will find a singer that adds some comedy in the lyrics, and usually parodies the current situation on the island.