Everett Harper and Kellita Maloof are total dance nerds. Whether talking shop about stage theory or listening to the subtle shadings in music for choreography ideas, the pair lives for the opportunity simply to “shake it.” So it makes sense that these self-professed dance dweebs are this year’s reigning king and queen of Carnaval.
“It’s in the body,” says Maloof, director of the world cabaret showgirl dance company Hot Pink Feathers. “Just hearing the music and the way it makes you feel is something that I can’t really explain; dance speaks to you beyond what you’ve learned, what you know.”
Carnaval, the annual explosion of dance, music and scantily clad bodies, has spilled onto the streets of the Mission district for some three decades. This weekend, the vibrant street fiesta themed “Many Cultures — One Spirit” returns with Queen Kellita and King Everett at the helm. It will showcase an array of activities, tasty eats and, of course, the always highly anticipated Grand Parade.
Of the events planned, highlights include music from the Latin soul headlining act deSoL, lessons in salsa, mambo, cha-cha and hip-hop and the eco-friendly area Zona Verde.
For the first-time king and queen, what does it mean, exactly, to rule The City’s liveliest celebration?
“Carnaval San Francisco sends the community the message, ‘You are alive! Look how colorful, creative, irreverent and inclusive you can be!’ We are lucky in San Francisco to have that tradition for 30 years, and I [am] honored to bring that message from the Mission to the Bay and beyond,” writes Harper via e-mail from Spain.
And for the queen? Well, it means a lot more waving and a lot less booty shaking.
“I’m finding as queen I do a lot more waving,” jokes Maloof. “I’m a little sad that I won’t be down on the ground as much with the girls [of Hot Pink Feathers].”
Harper and Maloof will have their time to cut a rug when they groove to Perez Prado, the great mambo king, while decked out in costumes reminiscent of the Copacabana in Havana, Cuba, as well as teeny, tiny bejeweled outfits representing Rio Carnaval.
Yet, for the two friends who shared an instant dance connection, Carnaval will be far from finished after the party in the streets concludes; they each plan to keep the spirit and message of the event alive as long as they wear their respective crowns.
“I’d love to challenge the Carnaval community and the mayor to make Carnaval not just the biggest in the West Coast, but the biggest in the U.S.,” says Harper.
“I want to continue to amplify this celebration, reach out, and invite the world to come to San Francisco for Carnaval, and to invite the kings and queens from New Orleans, Rio, Brooklyn, Venice and Trinidad to come and create a world Carnaval community.”
IF YOU GO
When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday-Sunday
Where: Harrison Street between 16th and 24th streets, San Francisco
Contact: (415) 920-0125, www.carnavalsf.com
Note: Grand Parade begins at 9:30 a.m. Sunday at the corner of 24th and Bryant streets.