Text, photos, and video by Sherwood Chen, ACTA's Associate Director
October 23, 2009














Alvarez (left) and Gonzales (right) holding a Wanaragua headdress (Belizean style) at Alvarez's garage lounge in Los Angeles.

Master artist Flavio “Paps” Alvarez and his grandnephew and apprentice Carlos Gonzales—both from Los Angeles— participated in the Alliance for California Traditional Arts 2009 Apprenticeship Program focusing on their work in Garifuna Wanaragua song and dance.

Master artist Flavio Alvarez (right, in blue) stands next to apprentice Carlos Gonzales (left, in yellow) and young Wanaragua dancer Omari during the New Year's Day 2009 Wanaragua procession in South Los Angeles.

Wanaragua occurs every New Year’s Day and Christmas, with drummers, singers and masked and costumed dancers who travel in a day-long procession from household to household. Wanaragua commemorates Garifuna ancestors, and at the same time is a tribute to historic resistance against colonialist forces. Practiced predominantly in Honduras, Guatemala and Belize within Garifuna communities, Wanaragua has also extended where the Garifuna diaspora has settled, including Los Angeles.

Flavio “Paps” Alvarez hails from Livingston (Garifuna: Labuga), Guatemala and is a Wanaragua chief who leads and coordinates the procession each year in South Los Angeles where he has resided for over thirty years. Carlos Gonzales has been working closely with his granduncle since 2002.

Watch a video of Paps and Carlos talking about Wanaragua and their work together.