Submitted by RightSide Guide
No doubt if you have done any research on the Caribbean coast of Nicaragua you have heard something about the Maypole festival. Often called “deh carnival” by the locals, the Maypole festival is a hybrid festival that traces its roots back to both the English May Day rites and the indigenous worship of Mayaya, the goddess of fertility. This clash of rituals has given birth to the sexiest celebration outside of Rio.

What to expect
During the month most of the neighborhoods take turns hosting their own smaller, more intimate festivals. They never seem to be planned very far in advance, you just have to ask people on the street where the party is that week. Old Bank, Cottontree, Beholden, Loma Fresca, Fatima and Santa Rosa all host, and all have their own twist but usually involve either live music or domino tournaments, bowling or basketball games, loads of excellent coastal food and, of course, the May Pole tree covered in bows and ribbons. Stick around late to watch the rum to kick in the locals get crazy dancing and laughing.

On the weekends there is almost always a concert going on somewhere in town, usually the park. I will post schedules of events on the calendar as I find out about them. However, the biggest, loudest and wildest party happens on the last weekend of the month. The May Pole festival weekend begins with the carnival which showcases the neighborhood dance groups dressed in full carnival regalia parading through the streets of downtown Bluefields until night, where they then dance on stage as a prelude to the concert that usually follows. The last party on the last night of the last weekend culminates in the Tulululu, the wild march between Old Bank barrio and Cottontree. The Tulululu is a rambunctious parade with its own dance, the aptly named tulululu. More of a thing than a dance, you will know what to do when you see the tulululu tunnels. Some stretch for a block or more.

The famous May Pole dancing
Children learn how to dance May Pole as soon as soon as they learn how to walk, and to watch the adults in the street is to watch art and culture in motion. The dancers dress like they stepped out of the 1800s and move with an unshakable rhythm that compliments the traditional May Pole music as if the beats were born from the dance itself. The females hike up their dresses to keep them off the ground and dance to tease their partner on the other side of the May Pole tree. The man steps around the tree in delicate chase, pounding the ground with his bare feet and folding his arms behind his back like…like a big chicken! He usually carries a rag and the crowd always cheers when he throws it to the ground, only to bend down to pick it up with his teeth. The man then gets closer to the woman who makes no mistake about wanting to be caught, and for a brief moment the dance climaxes with the two simulating sex as the audience goes wild and pushes in closer to see. It is always the female dancer who breaks it off, usually turning away laughing toward her friends who are the ones laughing the hardest. Sometimes several more female dances will have their turn being chased around the pole, and sometimes other couples in the crowd will step up and dance as well. These dances usually happen in the neighborhood festivals, but are easiest seen during the carnival parade and beginning of the Tulululu.

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