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Posts Tagged ‘Latino’

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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I like Latino music, I really do, but not at the expense of every other type of music in the Universe and unfortunately, here in the north of Tenerife Latino is aired, played and listened to as if no other order of notes has ever been invented.

Still, it was New Year’s Eve at the annual street party in Puerto de la Cruz and I resigned myself to another night of salsa, salsa and more salsa which certainly improves in direct relation to the quantity of alcohol consumed.

Midnight strikes, grapes are swallowed, fireworks explode into life and the champagne corks are popped – hello 2011.
Jack, Nicole, Sebastian and I wander back to Plaza Charco where the evening’s Latino band are in full swing and the dance floor is packed with salsa dancers. I do my best to shake up an explosion by attempting (badly I suspect) to emulate the moves while carrying a rucksack in which our chilled cava supply is stashed.

Shortly after 1am Nicole and Sebastian bid their farewells and Jack and I  finish off a bottle of cava and head over to the other side of the harbour to see what’s happening.

Lo and behold, what we find is the alternative New Year’s Eve – the one that has loud, throbbing rhythms and multi coloured strobe lights and joy upon joy, the unmistakeable chords of Insomnia!
With unrestrained delirium we launch ourselves into the middle of the pulsating dance floor and let the music wash over us in a tsunami of nostalgia.
I don’t think I have ever been more happy to hear Faithless, and the atmosphere alongside the harbour with the neon Big Wheel of the funfair slowly turning in the distance is nothing short of electric.
Now this is what I call party music.

We video’d snippets of the two sides to our NYE party so that anyone who has never experienced New Year’s Eve in Puerto de la Cruz can see what they’re missing and book now for 2011/2012. Oh, and in the interests of editing, I’ve culled the 5 minute firework display down to 1½ minutes.

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To queue or not to queue, that is the question.

It was around the hour of 9pm and a few dozen bodies had already begun to form a line from the ticket man at the top of the steps on San Telmo to the long bar backed by rows of red hot barbecues laden with smoking sardines.
“Let’s go for it,” said Jack
And by the time we’d made our way to the back of what was a small queue, people were attaching themselves to its rear like iron filings to a magnet.

4 juicy sardines, bread and a beer, not bad for €3.50

4 juicy sardines, bread and a beer, not bad for €3.50

It’s the night before Embarkation Tuesday and the traditional ‘Sardinada’ on the San Telmo in Puerto de la Cruz. It’s a sultry night and the fragrant smoke from the barbecues is adding to the ambient heat. The whole town is teeming with people and San Telmo itself is a swarming mass of people, most of them under the age of 25 years and the girls are looking stunning in their sun dresses and strappy sandals.

As usual the Tinerfeños have opted for the chaos system of organisation and as usual, it seems to result in everyone eventually getting 4 grilled sardines, a chunk of anis bread and a plastic beaker of beer for the princely sum of €3.50, with not a cross word, a shove or a push in sight.

We eat the fish with our fingers, the tender flesh falling easily from the bones, leaving cartoon-style fish heads on skeletons. Suitably salty and greasy, we dump our plates and head with parched throats and sardine smelling fingers to the bar and the dance floor.

This year there’s been a slight deviation from the usual agenda (no doubt questions will be asked in the Ayuntamiento) and there’s a DJ to warm the sweating crowd up. The music is dreadful; 70s and 80s pop and for a moment, I wonder if we’re lying in a coma somewhere in 2009 but then I remember,we’re in Tenerife. But we lap it up because just for once it’s not Latino and we join the hordes of people getting down to ‘I Will Survive’, ‘Stayin’ Alive’, ‘YMCA’, ‘Waterloo’ and ‘Karma Chameleon’.
Around us everyone’s joining in with the chorus and singing nonsense that sounds like the real thing, which is exactly what we do to the Spanish stuff and when they play ‘La Bamba’ and ‘Volare’, roles are reversed.

Getting down to bad retro sounds in a brilliant setting

Getting down to bad retro sounds in a brilliant setting

The DJ pumps it up with more retro rubbish intermingled with Spanish pop rubbish and finally climaxes with Blur’s ‘Song for Two’, presumably a tribute to this year’s Glasto performance, which goes down a storm and like all good DJs he bows out leaving his crowd hungry for more.

At this stage the Maquinaria Band take to the stage and the dance floor shifts a gear from busy to crushed. Sweltering in the heat of the night and the bodies around us, our throats like sand paper from the garlic-laden food we’d eaten earlier, now augmented by the sardines, we slowly thread our way through the masses and escape to the slightly less overwhelming heat of the promenade.

At around midnight, like salmon returning to spawn we fight our way upstream through the crowds of teenagers making their way towards San Telmo where the band are still on their warming up numbers.

Tomorrow’s the BIG DAY – hour after hour of standing, eating and drinking in the searing sun while all around us people are throwing, squirting, diving into, sailing on, swimming in and predominantly being thrown into… water.
It’s tough, but being privilaged enough to live in Party Town, we feel obliged to join in at every opportunity.

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It never ceases to amaze me how effectively the Tinerfeños manage to safeguard their culture and identity.
Despite 500 years of being at the crossroads between Europe and the Americas and 50 years at the heart of mass tourism, very little of northern European or North American culture has left its mark on this society.
But what’s most surprising to me is the way in which so much mainstream music has entirely by-passed these islands. It’s not just a marked preference for Latino and traditional Canarian with the only new kids on the block being rap and hip hop, it’s the virtual absence of any reference to UK and US charts sounds everywhere outside of the bars, clubs and discos of the purpose built tourist resorts.

So when Jack suggested we should go along to the Festival de Músicas Alternativas en Canarias (‘alternative’ music festival) in Puerto on Saturday night, I joked that we might even get to hear some Indie rock.

Mento - a polished performance

Mento - a polished performance

Arriving at the harbour at 9.30pm for a scheduled 9pm start, the stage was still being set up and a handful of people were milling around the mixing desk so we decided to go for a stroll around town to give them Canarian time to get under way.
When we arrived back in Plaza Charco we could hear that the first of the bands had started their set and we laughed as the sounds of garage music came drifting across the fishing boats. I was close.

On stage, Mento were in full flow rocking out the volume with some throaty Jim Morrison style vocals from the lead and augmented by dry ice, lasers and a cine reel. Around us, a hundred or so twenty-somethings were foot tapping and head shaking and below the stage a tie-dyed hippie was reeling and wheeling across the space.
When Mento finished their set, DJ Carlos Robles took to the stage.

This Drama - high on energy, low on melody

Flying in the face of the traditional DJ role of setting the audience alight with heart stopping volume and epilepsy-inducing lights, Carlos slipped quietly into the shadows behind one of the stack systems and slid ‘The Killers’ onto the turntable at the sort of volume Aunty Barbara would approve of.
A quick burst of some White Stripes and an improvisation of something that sounded suspiciously close to folk and the young DJ exited as discreetly as a roadie.

Unsurprisingly, most of the audience hadn’t even spotted DJ Robles’ appearance and carried on chatting until their attention was garrotted by the livewire appearance of ‘This Drama’. To an ear shattering explosion of chords above an aggressive drum beat, these punk rockers catapulted themselves onto the stage causing a tidal wave of excitement that sucked the audience to their feet in its undercurrent.

To a backdrop of a scene from ‘Quadrophenia’ the lead vocalist pogo’d across the stage, his skin tight jeans belted below his buttocks and his sleek, black Mod hair covering one eye.
Below stage a group of lads got caught up in the euphoria and began pogo-ing and hurtling into each other like guided missiles on mescaline, desperate to disguise their dancing as anarchy (boys…).

Impressively tight timing and high energy output culminated after just one minute as the first number came to an abrupt end.
Over the next twenty minutes, This Drama belted out a dozen songs, all remarkably similar, lacking any discernible tune and each lasting no more than a minute and a half. Then they were gone.

We headed back to the car park where the usual Saturday night crowd of Puerto’s teenagers was just getting its partying off the ground and every neon-lit, alcohol filled car we passed was belting out Latino and rap.
It might be a while yet before so much of what is considered here to be ‘alternative’ makes it to mainstream gatherings like this one but it’s good to know that when it does, there’s some raw local talent waiting in the wings to be heard.

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Those blessed with powers of observation will have noticed that there’s been blog silence here for a couple of weeks.

That’s because we’ve had our 19 year old nephew staying with us and he’s 24/7 maintenance. From the moment he drags himself from his pit at the crack of 10 am to his self-imposed curfew at 1 am, the most common phrase to fall from his lips is “What are we doing now?”
In the few short hours that don’t consist of organizing excursions, driving and playing board games there’s the shopping, cooking, cleaning up, washing, and exhausted sleep.

sardines, wine or beer and a bread roll for €3 at Puerto de la Cruz, oh and a live Latino band too

sardines, wine or beer and a bread roll for €3 at Puerto de la Cruz, oh and a live Latino band too

Having spent as much time with us as he has with his parents since he was old enough to toddle next door to our house and ring the doorbell, we were no strangers to the demands of his company and were prepared(ish) with a list of things to do and places to go.

What we were not prepared for was fate giving us the finger by, just a few days into his sojourn, the car’s power steering packing up and leaving us with an astronomical bill and three days without wheels.

Now for someone who loves walking on Tenerife, this shouldn’t be an issue, but for some reason, hiking repeatedly up the hill, along the banana road, along the pavement til it runs out and down past the Botanical Gardens into La Paz and back again in the hot sun very quickly lost its appeal.

Even the little everyday things like running out of drinking water, which is usually cause for no more than a “D’oh” and a short drive to the supermarket, turned into a two hour outing with the nephew moaning about carrying a five litre bottle back.

It’s at times like this that I question the wisdom of living on a golf course in the middle of banana plantations at the foot of the valley.

Having cleaned out every bank account and borrowed to get the car back, the ‘plans’ resumed and Teide National Park was the first place we headed to for a spot of walking in the volcanic crater.

Exploring amazing rock formations in Teide National Park

Exploring amazing rock formations in Teide National Park

The nephew started out with bounce in his step and an eagerness to examine every rock underfoot but the decision to climb a small volcanic cone and then run down into its crater…and back again, allowed the altitude to do what it does best and by lunchtime there were moans of “I can’t do any more uphill”.

That night was the town’s annual Sardinada and several hours on foot walking around town, queuing for sardines and watching the Latino band. The following day was ‘Embarkation Tuesday’; an all day on the feet affair without the car as the consumption of beer is a mandatory (oh alright, preferable) component of the day’s events.

Another hike through Las Cañades, a coastal walk to a former pirate fort and several T shirt shopping trips later and the nephew has been safely dispatched back to Blighty leaving Jack and I exhausted, skint and seriously behind with work deadlines.

Grabbing a flag from a greasy pole suspended over the harbour; one of the watery games at Puertos July Fiestas

Grabbing a flag from a greasy pole suspended over the harbour; one of the watery games at Puerto's July Fiestas on Embarkation Tuesday

Then yesterday, worried that he was late for an appointment (in the Canaries that constitutes an oxymoronic statement) Jack sprinted back to the house for some forgotten paperwork and strained a muscle in his calf. The shock and pain of the incident was however alleviated when, on looking up how best to treat it, he discovered that it’s an injury normally associated with athletes …there’s always a silver lining.

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