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Archive for April 5th, 2009

Everything about the town felt different.
For one thing it was 10 pm on Saturday night and there wasn’t a space to be found in the vast open-air harbour car park where a thousand cars can comfortably fit. I’d never seen it like this before.

And everywhere I looked there were neo-hippies; handsome bearded men with dreads tucked into battered top hats, their ubiquitous dogs trotting quietly by their sides. And long haired women in harem pants and fitted velvet jackets, their Indian jewellery tinkling as they walked.

There was a festival mood in the air; different from the flamboyant Carnaval atmosphere of a few weeks ago or the boisterous fiesta emotion that summer will bring. This was a laid back, bohemian affair, unhurried despite the crowds, all smiley and slightly sweet smelling.

The finishing touches to an Artistic Hairdresser creation

The finishing touches to an Artistic Hairdresser creation

From a small booth set up just beyond the statue of the fish wife, Beatles hits of the sixties were blaring out and a sizeable crowd were gathered. On stage, two women were dressed like latter day pantomime dames with metre high hair the shape of a sheaf of wheat. Amidst stacks of fluorescent, rainbow-coloured accessories, the Artistic Hairdressers were at work, teasing, plaiting, wiring and spray-dyeing volunteers’ hair into elaborate head sculptures.

At the top of Calle Quintana, two surreally large, silent ‘thugs’ were attempting to break into the BBVA bank, their incompetent efforts being witnessed by a shifting crowd whose amused delight had a distinctly nervy edge to it, scattering like sheep whenever one of the thugs made a move towards them.

Slowly working my way through the mass of spectators I made my way to Plaza Europa where in the now constant drizzle a man on a rope and a woman doing incredible things with hoola hoops were playing to a large audience of umbrellas.

The ominous presence of a seven foot thug outside the BBVA bank

The ominous presence of a seven foot thug outside the BBVA bank

When the rain stopped I took my place alongside the growing crowd near the front of the main stage to await the arrival of The Chanclettes. For the next 30 minutes I was good naturedly jostled and squeezed from pole position to side line by a never-ending stream of people pushing their way through to the front of the stage. It’s an odd contradiction in the Tinerfeños; given a queue at the bar or the Correos or the cake shop they will happily allow any number of people to push ahead of them. But give them a spectacle of any sort, a concert or a parade, they will worm their way through the smallest of non-gaps to get to the front.

By the time The Chanclettes took to the stage I had shifted imperceptibly until my unobstructed view had turned into

The fabulously un-pc Chanclettes

The fabulously un-pc Chanclettes

a stack system and four square yards of stage. But there’s no room for resentment when you’re watching four incredibly professional drag artists stage an hilariously irreverent piss-take of movies, TV commercials and celebs over the past forty years. Despite losing a fair bit in translation, it was one of the funniest shows I’ve ever seen.
At 1am I made my way back to the car through the neon lit, booze packed boots and interiors of the town’s usual teenage Saturday night car park rave and headed towards the exit where a steady stream of cars was still queueing to get in.

Despite the rain, 15,000 people visited the town over the weekend of the Mueca Festival. Low season? Economic slowdown? Not so’s you’d notice in Puerto de la Cruz.

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