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Festa Mayor 2009 (part 2)

25 August, 2009 (11:05) | Living in Europe | By: admin


Tonight my best friend Nicole came out to Gracia to have dinner with me and take in a bit of Festa Mayor. Its good to go out into the festiities early like we did (around 9:00) because a different aspect of the festival is more apparent – the traditional, multi-generational meals; long tables set with formal white tablecloth in the middle of the streets which are later removed. Nicole was a bit tired, just wanted to see some highights, so I took her straight to my favorite Street, Joan de Blanques.

I took her directly to the Cuban Habanera street because it remains my personal favorite. Where later there would be a band and fiery rum, now was a big paella feast of which we caught the tail end.

1) The huge paella pot, almost empty by the time we arrived. 2 & 3) These tables will soon be taken away but the chairs will remain for the old folk to sit on. Most intend to stick around for the 11:00 Cuban Habanera band. The fiery rum will bust out in another hour or so.

With facility I lead through the labyrinth streets of Gracia at this ten o’clock hour. This will become more difficult later, as the crowds arrive.

I take advantage of kicking around with Nicole to take yet more iPhone shots of decorations et al. It is certainly easier to move around as a duo than with a group. Nicole and I have the same taste, tolerance, sense of fun, like the same bands and always dance whenever possible. We became friends in New Zealand, and when she broke up with her husband (who atill lives in NZ) I encouraged her to move here to Barcelona, which she did almost 2 years ago. (For the stories of our adventures in New Zealand I again refer you to my book, Horizontal Rain

1) Nicole and I on a chilly hike in New Zealand 5 years ago 2) Nicole and I tonight,

Every year there is a competition for the best dressed street of Festa Mayor. This one strip of calle Joan de Blanques, the same one where later a Catalan/Cuban band will play, has the theme “Everything is Fragile” and is constructed of bags of hanging water, cleverly sculpted shapes from recylable water bottles, There are colorful cardboard poles with torn photos of dogs, babies, mostly animals. The thought and imagination that went into the conception and execution of this stip of street should win the award this year, in my opinion.
1) “Tot és fragil” translates to ¨Everything is fragile¨ 2) close-up of a single bag of water, a visual themetic leitmotif.


In both these shots you don’t notice at first how many tiny bags of water are hanging in each installlation.

We decide to head back to the lower part of Gracia where I live, maybe catch a band on our way back to my place. I know the by-ways and where the hippest music normally is. The best bands are always set up on clautrophobic intersections of narrow streets. Having scouted the lay-out on bicycle the morning before the festival began, I know where the two most likely to have cool music stages are, and the easiest access to see them. You have to know the labyrinthian streets in order to know how to go right up to a stage from the one side that has not been pumping people towards it. My short-cut is rewarded by an impressive techno-funky-rock band, singing catchy anthemic hooks in Catalan to a bobbing and appreciative, for the most part youthful crowd.

Very Catchy, eccentric, powerful tecno trio playing on a small stage at a tiny intersection

The music is great! Nicole and I dance, laugh, notice a tiny dark self-styed mojito stand; obviously a young entrepeneur, with a bottle of rum and whatever the other ingredients are that make these so tasty. Nicole says, “you wanna split one”, I say “sure” and we dance for another half hour or so.
Nicole is getting tired, its about midnight, I try to take a shot with my iPhone of the mojito entrepeneur but its too dark. As you can see from the photos, we are not far from the stage. The rest of the (sizeable) crowd is on the street directly in front of the band.

As we make it to the top of my street we go home a minute for me to pick up Quixote, who I am sure needs to poo. We will accompany Nicole to Gran de Gracia. As we walk Quixòte I say, “Are you sure you don’t want to check out the other small stage that plays hip music – its only 2 blocks from here and I know a way that takes us directly to the back of the stage. We can check out the band and you can continue walking to Gran de Gracia to catch the metro.

She says, “okay” so out we go. And again, the music did not disappoint! Its a super funky punky band with the tiniest bass player I have ever seen and a really chubby but sweet and smiley keyboard player.

Again, Nicole and I dance, dance dance. I have Quixòte on an expandable leash, so he can sniff the ground to his heart’s content while we swirl around. Every so often I like to pick Quixóte up and dance with him. Nicole takes a snapshot with my iPhone and then kisses me goodbye. She has a big day tomorrow.
1) Dancing with Quixote 2) The super funky dance band with cherubic keyboard player.

Thinking my night to be over, I walk home with Quixòte, past the big glitzy band playing one block away, on Plaça Rius y Taulet (which I normally refer to as “our plaça”). Lately, ever since Mark took his trip to USA my dog and I have been sleeping at Partners in Rhyme headquarters because it is air conditioned. The heat has been so intense lately that one feels like a dripping Dali clock just going to the corner store to by milk. Our studio is air-conditioned and the futon bed is just fine until the heat wave passes.

I am surprised to find the shutters of our store open wide; inside Ilde, Gregor, Anton and a Catalan woman they met that day on the beach who speaks several languages are having an animated discussion with Mark. They have dropped by to see if maybe we want to jam before they head home. Mark was up for that, having stayed in all day. A jam sounds nice. Ilde is all dressed up in a dress that is fabulous for dancing. They have come from Festa Mayor de Gracia as well. We jam a bit and then Mark has the brainstorm to put them in front of the green screen and film them. First he gets Ilde on the green screen to pretend she is painting, wearing that fabulous dress. Then he gets Gregor and Anton to dance togehteon the green screen. Anton and Gregor exude screen charm. We will definitely develop this into a cool corto.

1) Ilde in her dancing dress 2) Gregor and Anton showing us a 7 minute documentary about their band.

It is now 5 am again, as I wind down from yet another spurt of non-stop fun. We tend to go out into the Festa every other night, and those nights simply end in the wee hours.

Our new friends stayed awhile longer after their 10 minutes each of green screen stardom. They wanted to see how they looked after the render, were delighted by what Mark has done with them.

I have a feeling we’ll be seeing them once more before they return to Antwerp.

I recorded a bit of our jam – will transfer a snip of music later and add to this blog.