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Royalty Competition April 21st / Fat Tuesday Celebration / Team Feature: Cindy Dzib (Current Issue)
- 40th Anniversary theme: Roots of Carnaval / Dolores Huerta Fundraiser (Issue #28)
Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade Winners Announced! (Issue #27)
Chuchito Valdés Headlines Festival with Pasto Seco Band / Grand Marshals John Santos and Blanche Brown (Issue #26)
Original Theme Song by Soltron / Queen Aims to Inspire / King Advocates for Deaf Community (Issue #25)




When she’s not working as a laboratory technician for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, this year’s Carnaval Queen Tiombe can be found following her passion for dance. Since a very young age when she began studying classical dance, Tiombe learned how to balance her activities so that they didn't get in the way of her school work. Splitting time between dance, track and field and band was a normal thing for her growing up.


Although winning the crown is associated with fun and pageantry, Tiombe also sees it as a responsibility. ‘Winning the title is much more than having a beautiful costume, dancing fiercely and wearing a crown. This title means I was chosen to represent Carnaval and San Francisco and I am truly humbled and honored to do so. As an Afro-Brazilian dancer I am so proud to be recognized in an underrepresented dance genre. I hope other women and men see me as an inspiration to brave the stage and compete,” she says.


Tiombe attended Sonoma State University and studied chemistry. She was on the track team and still holds school records for the 200m, long jump and triple jump. Tiombe earned her BS in Chemistry with concentration in Forensic Science from The University of Central Oklahoma.


After college she returned to San Francisco and started taking Afro-Brazilian dance with Tania Santiago at ODC. The following year Tiombe joined Tania’s parade contingent and later her dance company, Aguas Dance Company. Tiombe traveled to Salvador Bahia and danced in Carnaval with a variety of contingents.


Her broad experience in the city’s dance scene has given her a unique perspective of Carnaval San Francisco. “Carnaval is not just a street party and festival. It's a celebration of a variety of countries, cultures, dances, food and it's a time to expand my knowledge and interests. Carnaval is the appreciation of diversity,” Tiombe says.


In 2015 she choreographed her first tap piece to the fast-paced jazz song Salt Peanuts for the Fall Choreographers fest held at Dance Mission. She also had the honor of performing with the newly crowned Carnaval King, Antoine Hunter and his company, Urban Jazz Dance, in the 2016 Bay Area International Deaf Dance Festival. Tiombe was invited to join a new dance collective Almazônica which debuted work for the 2017 13th Annual Cubacaribe Festival. Aside from dance Tiombe enjoys playing Capoeira Angola and Regional.


Tiombe's goal as queen is to help the comparsas with children get what they need to make their participation in Carnaval a successful one. She talks to their coaches about ideas, fundraising, materials, and even makes costumes for them because she doesn't want any children to feel left out.


The new queen has a positive message as she begins her reign. “Carnaval is a celebration for all! We need to stay true to ourselves and help each other along the way because the fruit of success is never seen on a tree rooted in selfishness,” Tiombe says.



Written by Sylvia Ramirez, Digital Content Director for Carnaval San Francisco. Photo Courtesy
Copyright 2017, Carnaval San Francisco. All rights reserved.




A Bay Area native, Antoine is an award-winning deaf producer, choreographer, film/theater actor, dancer, dance instructor, model, poet, speaker, mentor, and deaf advocate. Hunter received training in dance and acting at Skyline High School in Oakland; California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and Paul Taylor Dance School in NYC.


Antoine was named King of Carnaval on April 15th at the Brava Theater and says that winning the crown is about more than just a personal victory. “It means the world to me and my deaf community, my family, and my dance community. I feel the love from everyone. It’s a dream that’s come alive and it comes with important duties. I am here to advocate for our community in the name of DANCE,” he says.


The founder and artistic director of Urban Jazz Dance, he has performed with Savage Jazz Dance Company, Nuba Dance Theater, Alayo Dance Company, Robert Moses’ KIN, Man Dance, Sins Invalid, Amara Tabor-Smith, Kim Epifano, Push Dance Company, Fly Away Productions, Joanna Haigood, OET theater, and the Lorraine Hansberry Theater.


Antoine’s vast performing experience gives him a unique perspective on what makes Carnaval San Francisco unique. “It is a time to heal, laugh, and see loved ones that you haven’t seen in a long time. It’s a time to play music that you love, sing songs together, hug and comfort each other, and remember how strong and beautiful our community is. And of course it a time to dance!” he says.


A faculty member at East Bay Center for the Performing Arts, Antoine also teaches at Shawl-Anderson, Youth in Arts, and Dance-AVision. He is the founder of Iron Tri-Angel Urban Ballet in Richmond, was an instructor and rehearsal director for the Ross Dance Company, dance captain for commercials, and was head choreographer director for the Philippines's Musical "Amerikana-The Musical." Hunter loves doing short films and long films plus music videos, he was head choreographer for D-PAN: Deaf Professional Arts Network ASL Music Video: "Call Me Maybe" by Carly Rae Jepsen.


As king, Antoine wants to continue his advocacy for deaf artists. He says that even in 2017, he still encounters the viewpoint that deaf people should not dance. “Do not let anyone stop you from doing great things that matter to you. Push your limits and alway remember that you are beautiful, always, even on the ugly days!” he says.


Our new king shares a positive and inspirational message. He says “I, as king, love each and every one of you and when you see me, send me a hand wave. To beat hate we must use love, therefore I say unto you, use love to make our community grow!"



Written by Sylvia Ramirez, Digital Content Director for Carnaval San Francisco. Photo Courtesy
Copyright 2017, Carnaval San Francisco. All rights reserved.




“Lleno de alegría y también dolor, Corazón de San Pancho, Viva la Misión!” -From Corazon de San Pancho, Carnaval Theme Song 2017


Soltron, one of the hottest bands to come out of San Francisco’s Mission District in generations, has released an energetic tribute to all that is good about the Mission District and Carnaval San Francisco. Their new song, Corazon de San Pancho, is the multi-genre theme song for this year’s two-day celebration.


After hearing the band’s debut CD, Soltron, produced by the prolific Latin music producer Greg Landau, Carnaval’s Executive Producer Roberto Hernandez commissioned them to compose the 2017 theme, Corazon de San Pancho.


“Not only is Soltron representing a new and original sound coming out of the Mission, most of the band members were raised in our Carnaval tradition and have participated since childhood. They understand what the theme is about - the beating heart of the Mission and San Francisco. Plus, they are excellent musicians who are bringing our stories to light,” Roberto says.


The song is co-written by band members Ruben Sandoval and Daniel Riera with powerful lyrics by Manolo Davila. Like everything Soltron does, it was a collaboration among equals. “I came up with the musical hook for the song,” Ruben says. “Then Daniel and I collaborated on the musical arrangement.”


Corazon de San Pancho has the musical elements that make Soltron’s original repertoire so unique. It starts as 80’s funk then moves to highly-danceable Brazilian Samba before the hip-hop spoken word section. “Musically, the shape of the song changes and morphs just like the changes that have occurred in our community,” says Ruben. He credits his broad musical influences like Santana, Pharrell, Miles Davis and Earth, Wind and Fire as the inspiration for his compositions.


Both Ruben and lyricist/guitarist Manolo grew up in the Mission District and were shaped by the neighborhood’s youth arts programs. Carnaval has been in Manolo’s blood since he was a child and this year marks the 25th Carnaval he has participated in as a performer or contingent member. This will be Ruben’s eighth Carnaval having played with Loco Bloco, Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco (LJYE) and Soltron over the years starting in middle school.


“We believe in nonviolent struggle but use our music as a weapon for social change,” Manolo shared as he discussed his motivation for writing the lyrics. “The Mission in the seventies was exploding with all kinds of music and culture. This song tries to capture the nostalgia for the Mission’s cultural legacy of which Carnaval is one of the most important and still survives. In fact, Carnaval is more relevant now than ever,” he says.


Roughly half the Soltron members are alumni of Loco Bloco, including Manolo, who currently teaches in the program. The other half are alumni of the LJYE, including trombonist Ruben and wind synth player Daniel. That is probably why the first thing one notices about their repertoire is both the high level of musicianship as well as the authenticity of the music styles they play. Not only is the funk and hip-hop real and fresh, so is the music from Brazil, Cuba and Puerto Rico that influences their music. Stand Up, I Live Where You Vacation, and Arroz Con Gandules are just a few of their iconic tunes. Corazon de San Pancho will join their list of signature songs and once you hear it, you won’t be able to get its catchy riffs out of your head!


From their beginnings in 2014 Soltron has not only been a band but also a movement bringing forth the issues affecting their people, culture and neighborhood. They are dedicated to highlighting and opposing the gentrification that has changed the character of San Francisco and particularly, the Mission. Their anthem, Stand Up, is a call to resist the changes that are so profoundly hurting their community.


In addition to Ruben, Daniel and Manolo, Soltron is composed of Christian Navarro, trumpet; Omree Galoz, piano; Adriana Marrero, vocals; Roque Baron, vocals; Remi Spiro, percussion; Ahkeel Mestayer, percussion; and Arturo Blanco, percussion.


The music video for Corazon de San Pancho can be seen here.
Follow this link to hear and purchase the Soltron CD.


Soltron Performs at Carnaval Festival
3:15 p.m. on Sunday, May 28th, 2017
Harrison and 22nd St. Stage



Written by Arturo Riera, Mister Latin Jazz. Photo Courtesy Sylvia Ramirez
Copyright 2017, Carnaval San Francisco. All rights reserved.




After years of volunteering for Carnaval San Francisco, I joined the Federation of European Carnival Cities (F.E.E.C.) - the largest Carnaval organization in the world! The worldwide members of F.E.C.C. are generally people who have been involved in some capacity in Carnavals in their own countries. Every year, we have a convention in a different location and share friendship, information and our love of Carnaval. Carnaval exists in many parts of the world, with each Carnaval having their own history, flavor and character.


This past September my Serbian friends in the F.E.C.C invited me to attend the 8th annual Carnaval in Sabac, Serbia, a city in Western Serbia with a population of about 70,000 people.


The Sabac Carnaval was fantastic! The main highlight was the Grand Parade which ends with each group giving a performance in the center of the city. There were many types of groups including performers from all over Serbia, Italy, Slovenia, Croatia, and Bosnia Herzegovina! As is often the case with many Carnavals, there were many fantastic events leading up to the Grand Parade including an doggie Carnaval, the Crowning of a Queen and Princesses, a cooking competition for disabled adults (I was head of the jury!) and an art exhibition. We also visited an elementary school and a high school for arts, where F.E.C.C. members discussed and taught students about Carnaval.


I am very proud to have gotten a special award for the person who traveled the greatest distance ever to come to the Sabac Carnival. Through Carnaval, great distances can be bridged between countries and people.


Viva Carnival!



Written by Peter L. Balogh, Carnaval San Francisco International Ambassador. Edited by Amie Valle. Copyright 2016 by Drumbeat, Carnaval San Francisco. All rights reserved.


Romance in the Mission: A Carnaval Love Story


Life-changing things happen when you find love in a “hopeful” place.


Jill Loeffler and Aram Sohigian can attest to this because their lives were transformed when they sat side-by-side on a sidewalk at the Carnaval San Francisco parade in 2013.


On the morning of May 26th, with only eight days before his move to China, 45-year-old Aram bought a burrito and a beer and got ready to watch the remarkable Carnaval San Francisco parade. His non-stop fun countdown would be interrupted when he returned from his breakfast break and noticed that his former seat on the sidewalk was taken over by Jill, a 41-year-old entrepreneur inspired by the cultural beauty surrounding her as she waited for the parade to start.


Chemistry clicked and Aram, from Healdsburg, and Jill, from Nebraska found themselves drawn to one another on that curb in the barrio. Neither knew what to expect but with only a little over a week left in the Bay Area, Aram wasted no time getting better acquainted with this newfound face. As the Carnaval Grand Parade powered down Mission Street with over 45 contingents including dancers, floats, and music blasting from all directions, nothing could interfere with their “magnetic attraction,” says Jill and Aram --not even the chatter and scrambling bodies of friends that danced and sang around them.


Jill and Aram spoke of life and travel. They spoke of the wonders of the world awaiting adventure and places they had already discovered. Jill was in no hurry to go home to post the pictures she had taken, and as she prepared to say goodbye, Aram found the courage to ask her on a date for the very next day.


Eight days turned into eight nights which blossomed into an ongoing parade of love. Perhaps inspired by the beating heart of the Carnaval Spirit, Jill, only two months later, moved to China to be with her new beau. They immersed themselves into a life dedicated to culture and travel. Both had previously worked in the corporate “business” world, but came to realize that working 9-to-5 was just not their lifestyle.


Vagabonding around the globe, with one suitcase and carry–on each, Aram and Jill want to leave nothing behind. Whether they are hitting the dance floor Cuban-style, discovering the latest trends in Beijing, scouting engagement rings in Turkey, or celebrating their spontaneous marriage proposal in a hot- air balloon over the “Fairy Chimneys” in Göreme, these two are far from average and yet very much compatible.


Aram and Jill encourage others all over the world to follow their feelings and “go for it.” Whether that be to travel or asking someone on a date whom you never thought would give you the chance.


If they are not giving tour tips on a city’s hotspots, or showing how to make a suitcase not weigh a ton, Aram and Jill travel together all around the world and discover new tourism spots to add to their booming sites.


Aram says that they celebrate the Carnaval Parade as their anniversary now. “With such a big party with lots of friends, the event for us has become magical.” Two people meeting on a street of beautiful chaos on a perfectly clear day not expecting the unexpected, speaks wonders.


As they sat in a coffee shop on Market Street in downtown San Francisco reminiscing about that unforgettable day, not so far from where the parade actually took place, Aram could hardly contain his excitement to share their story of love and Carnaval. Jill nodded in agreement as Aram uttered with the subtle voice of sincerity, “How much more love can you get than that?”


Follow Aram and Jill’s websites and get some tips on life, love and travel in a town near you!



Written by Valencia Newton. Edited by Digital Content Manager Sylvia Ramirez. Copyright 2015 by Drumbeat, Carnaval San Francisco. All rights reserved.