Wandering down to the harbour at Puerto de la Cruz any Saturday night during the summer you’re likely to hear the strains of music drifting across the fishing boats. Whether it’s cool jazz vibes from the Heineken Jazz Festival, Indie Rock and Punk from the FMAC festival or, more often than not, common or garden weekend Latino. But this Saturday night as we strolled through the warm and still night air, it was the pulsating rhythms of Brazil that greeted our ears.
The infectious enthusiasm of the batucada was causing mass, involuntary foot tapping as the white-robed, red masked drummers swept everyone along in their tribal tide.
This particular batucada group play most of the carnivals and festivals in the north. They’re led by a handsome, dreadlocked guy who conducts his group of happy, smiley drummers using a whistle and a seductive smile which is so contagious that everyone seems to have caught it, whether they’re carrying a drum or not.
As the raw, primitive barrage of the drums fade, Brazilian DJ PuReZa takes to the stage and the rhythms slip into a silky Samba smoking jacket that wraps itself around everyone’s hips so we’re all swaying in time.
Then the crowds push forward as the capoeira boys (and girl) arrive. One by one they take to front of stage to perform their amazing blend of gymnastics and martial arts, bodies twisting and legs wind-milling as they somersault, back flip and handstand, spurred on by the rhythmic beat and the hand claps and whistles of the crowd. Then they begin their displays of dance fighting, legs kicking and swinging at each other, always a hair’s breadth from touching.
It’s a breathtaking display that leaves me feeling so old and un-supple that I have to go and have a sit down. In Plaza Charco the Samba beat is joined by cheering from the hordes watching Real Madrid sink 5 goals against Athletic Bilbao; the entertainment is all fast and furious tonight.
Suitable rested and refreshed, it’s back to Sao Paulo aka the harbour where DJ Tahira has taken to the stage and the crowds have begun to morph from Neo-hippies to Puerto’s Saturday night-ers.
It’s been a great prelude to summer when the town changes personality and dances to the beat of a more Spanish/South American drum – ash clouds, world economic crises and World Cup mania permitting.