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Posts Tagged ‘dancing’

As soon as we heard that Ministry of Sound were going to be appearing in Santa Cruz on the first Saturday night of Carnaval 2011 it was a foregone conclusion. We would be there.

There was much debate over how we would get in and out of the city, tales of traffic mayhem being rife, but the prospect of long walks, a bus ride dressed as Hit Girl and Brother Jack, another long walk and no idea of how we would get home again settled it. We’d take our chances and drive into the city.

I drew the designated driver short straw and we set off around 10.40pm to give ourselves plenty of time to check out all the venues in the city before heading to Plaza Europa to share the Ministry of Sound experience. As it turned out, driving into the city couldn’t have been easier. We arrived at the bus station car park to find plenty of spaces (the Canarios don’t tend to like paying for parking when an empty pedestrian crossing costs nothing) and with the final touches applied to our costumes, headed off into the surreal pandemonium that is carnival.

Everywhere we went, the sights and smells of food assailed us, from candy floss and sugared almonds at the fairground, through baked potatoes and hot dogs along the paseo marítima to the amazing food stall in Plaza Candelaria with its Desperate Dan– sized montaditos and its rotating barbecue on which half suckling pigs sizzled.

Everyone who wasn’t eating, and most of those who were, were drinking, and the ground was littered with carrier bags bulging with bags of ice, bottles of Jack Daniels, Smirnoff, Arehucas, cans of Red Bull and bottles of coke from which groups were serving themselves generous refills in between salsas. Beer stalls lined every street, their counters propped up by escapees from a drug-induced nightmare, and a giant plastic lime with its top half sliced and opened served as a bar for a mojito mixing barman dressed as a bee.

We made our way first to Plaza Principe where a very traditional band was just warming up a crowd who were enjoying their salsa under the stars. Next it was on to the small stage below the Plaza where a rock band were belting out Spanish and US classic rock anthems to a select gathering. As the clock ticked towards Ministry of Sound time we headed to the main stage at Plaza Candelaria where thousands of fancy dress clad revellers were getting into their stride to the Maquinería boy band who were belting out a lively stream of carnival favourites accompanied by some very nifty dance moves.

By now, the Carnaval spirit had us by the throat and there was only one place that we needed to be. As the lasers scanned the night sky, and over a steady dance beat, a deep voice intoned a monologue that told us of a night when it was written that a new generation would come and dance until the ground shook.
As the volume pumped up and the Ministry of Sound roadshow took to the stage, the prophecy came true.

Unfortunately, my flip camera also shook and the microphone gave up the ghost on the volume. So with suitable apologies to Ministry of Sound for failing to capture the full force of your music, here’s a taster of Santa Cruz Carnaval 2011 . the food, the music and the people.

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Anyone visiting Tenerife over the next month is quite likely to find themselves witnessing events that are a little out of the ordinary as Carnaval 2011 hits the island like a tropical storm in costume.

Depending on which part of the island you’re based in, you’re quite likely to witness party goers dressed as smurfs, witches, angels and Marvel comic characters either fresh faced and bright eyed on their way to the street party, sleeping precariously on a harbour wall or still propping up a bar mid-morning with eyes as red as the sunrise.

You’ll also probably stumble over exhibitions, vintage car rallies, dancing competitions and even, as in the case of the unsuspecting holidaymakers in Puerto de la Cruz a few days ago, a mini carnival parade.

As visitors and locals strolled the cobbled streets of the town centre on an average Sunday morning, the peace was shattered by the persistent sounding on a tinny horn which heralded the arrival of the candidates for the town’s Carnaval Queen 2011 elections in vintage cars accompanied by a mini parade of dancers and musicians.

You don’t have to attend the main events to know that party time has arrived; unlike the mountain to Mohammed, Carnaval will come to you 🙂

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Walking the streets of Puerto de la Cruz around midnight last night, you’d have been forgiven for wondering if some giant, flesh-eating plants had invaded the town leaving the streets bereft of its citizens. But there’d be two vital pieces of information you’d be missing. Firstly, much of the population were nursing the hangover from hell after a full day of partying at the Fiestas Del Carmen on Tuesday and secondly, those who were still capable of dancing were all being held hostage at Plaza Europa by a diminutive African woman named Angélique Kidjo.

After the excesses of Tuesday, it took a Herculean feat of will to drag myself away from the prospect of a comfy sofa and a night in front of the box last night, but someone has to do it…
Bitching about the fact that there was no break between fiestas at this time of year and sounding like Victor Meldrew in knickers, I headed down to town at around 9pm for the opening night of the annual Jazz & Mas concerts.
Arriving in Plaza Europa, some hundred or so chairs were laid out theatre-style, most of them already occupied. The stage was set outside the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) building, lined by bright green kiosks enticing us to piensa en verde (think green) and beyond the stage large Heineken banners fluttered in the sea breeze like prayer flags calling the faithful to imbibe.

Yul Ballesteros

Jack and I positioned ourselves standing a metre or so behind the chairs, so that we could easily access side of stage for photos, and berated the use of staid seating for a concert as we watched a more mature crowd jostle for spare chairs.

First up was celebrated local(ish) lad, Yul Ballesteros, fresh from the New York modern Jazz scene. Born in Gran Canaria, this young man has been wowing New York with his guitar prowess and last night, it was easy to hear why. His improvised style may not be everyone’s first choice of easy listening but he certainly pleased the jazz aficionado audience last night. His set lasted for over an hour and had Jack and I doing a U-turn on our earlier diss’ of the seating arrangements as our backs, still exhausted from Tuesday, began to register painful indignation at this abuse.
Feeling slightly guilty, I didn’t join in with the random cries of Otra when Yul and his quartet left the stage.

Angélique Kidjo

Muttering to each other about only staying to watch a bit of the next performance, we watched a small African woman with close-cropped grey hair; flared loons split from the knee down and ankle boots, take to the stage. Unaccompanied, she split the night with a voice so powerful and sweet that it brought tears to the eyes. She sang her song in Swahili, keeping time with a soft rhythmic tapping on her thigh; this tiny figure on a huge stage which she filled with her presence. In an instant, she had captured the 500 strong audience and held them in her thrall.

She ended her song to tumultuous applause and immediately went into a fast tempo African number, a fusion of funk and soul to the beat of African drums, her body gyrating and stomping in a dance display of pure vitality and joy. That was it. The onlookers from the back surged forward to surround the seating area, dancing like they’d just discovered how good it was. Soon the ranks broke again and a tide of dancing bodies swept to front of stage as Angélique lifted every single individual up and sent their spirits soaring through the night.

The fact that she spoke entirely in English, most of which would have been lost on them, did nothing to diminish Angélique’s hold on her audience as she told us about how her father had introduced his children to the world by bringing them music from all the places he could never afford to send them to; Europe, America, India – musical influences that she now melted and fused with her native African beats to produce her high energy, compelling songs.

Our broken backs now forgotten, we watched, sang, danced and laughed as Angélique held us hostage late into the night. By the time we left, a good percentage of the audience were up on stage with this incredible woman, helping her to celebrate her fiftieth birthday by dancing to the drums of her childhood which echoed through the empty streets and followed us all the way back to the car.

If you ever get a chance to go and see Angélique Kidjo – do it.  It’s not just a concert, it’s a life-affirming experience.

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The Cava’s chilling in the fridge; the grapes have been de-seeded and wrapped in small foil bundles; the picnic cool bag has been rescued from the garden shed and its plastic wine glasses rinsed and, most importantly of all, I’m wearing my new red knickers.

New Year’s Eve is a complicated business in this part of the world and care must be taken lest one upsets the omens of good fortune for the coming year and risk the shadow of Bad Luck dogging your every endeavour.

First, there’s the whole grape thing…you have to eat 12 grapes, one for each stroke of midnight.

Our first year in Tenerife we didn’t think to de-seed the grapes and, having nearly choked, the final stroke of midnight found us floundering around grape number 8. The following year we weren’t entirely sure when the actual strokes of midnight had begun, several ‘hoax’ fireworks having been launched in the immediate run-up to the real thing. Consequently, amidst the confusion some grapes were prematurely consumed.

Last year we sussed the start and confidently popped the de-seeded 12 with every pyrotechnic chime despite a fit of the giggles which resulted in several snorts and teary eyes. When the last stroke finished, so did the grapes.

Now, I wouldn’t exactly say that if it wasn’t for bad luck in 2007 we wouldn’t have had any luck at all, on the other hand, neither would I say that things couldn’t possibly have gone better for us and a large dose of good luck was most decidedly conspicuous by its absence.

So what went wrong?

Well apparently, as I’ve since learned, in order to ensure Good Luck for the forthcoming twelve months, one should wear new red underwear, preferably purchased by someone else as a gift.

So, this afternoon we scoured La Villa shopping complex for a suitable addition to my undies drawer and after a few dodgy moments when it looked like all that was left was a couple of G-strings with Minnie Mouse in a glittery frock on the crotch or granny-sized bloomers, we finally settled on a pair of Brazilian fit, plain red knickers in Women’s Secret and Jack parted with the cash.

New Year's Eve in Puerto de la Cruz5! 4! 3! 2! 1! And off we go! Grapes successfully consumed in perfectly synchronised chomp to chime! Cava cork is popped and sails over the heads of the crowds, plopping into the harbour water where it bobs happily amongst legions of its mates.

The sky fills with colour and my ear drums vibrate to the cracks and bangs of the gunpowder explosions which bounce around the windows of the apartments that front the harbour. When the pyrotechnics subside, we finish the Cava and head to Calle Perdomo. The bass beat sends electric currents through our bodies and we dance until 4.15 am when, with all the booze consumed and our legs and feet aching, we begin the 40 minute walk home.

So welcome, 2008, and any time you’re ready to bestow a little good fortune this way, I’m ready and waiting…

¡Feliz Año Nuevo”!

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This weekend saw the start of the annual carnival in Puerto de la Cruz on Tenerife’s northern coast. This is our fourth Carnaval (Spanish spelling) since we moved here and this year we’ve got friends, their teenage offspring and their teenage offspring’s mates coming to stay in Puerto for the duration of the festivities. Everyone has been fore-warned about the endurance nature of the week ahead, the uncertainty of the weather at this time of the year (beach time being considered an essential component of the holiday) and the fancy dress requirements.
They arrived from the UK on the 7.10pm flight from Manchester last night and we ventured down to Plaza Charco for their first taste of the atmosphere. A couple of beers, some tasty tapas and one or two circuits of the main area later, initial impressions were received favourably and an early departure (1am) was deemed appropriate for the arrivals’ first night.
It remains to be seen how a more in-depth visit will pan out.

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