Spanish debutantes
October 15, 2007, 8:38 am
Filed under: europe, events, festivals, spain, travel | Tags: ,

After an afternoon swim and a siesta we headed out to see the parade. By a stroke of fortune our hotel was by the corner where the parade started, so we joined the lines of families and old couples in anticipation. Rather than blocking the streets altogether, the police revelled in their authority, whistling angrily at disobedient traffic, then thrusting an open palm to families spilling onto the street, who fell over each other in their efforts to stop suddenly, so buses could rumble to life and continue their journeys. People on the buses to other destinations were glued to their windows, absorbing the gathering floats and bands with their eyes, like toddlers at a candy store.The parade started with a trickle of police and a man with a fistful of shiny balloons. Unlike Australian parades, where security staff strictly guard yellow lines, children here cascaded onto the road in their eagerness for inflated cartoons and sugar.

Then came the giant jungle complete with sounds, which sent the children skittling back into the safety of their parents’ arms. Each jungle creature hid a man in a cage with leavers, like the Wizard of Oz. The man at the heart of the giant rhinoceros decided to mix things up by making his shell do a 360, and the rhino’s bum came careering towards Graham, who was distracted by the looming giraffe and snake. I grabbed him moments before collision, as children squealed in delight and terror. The young lad in the giraffe decided to follow suit and the giraffe arced around the road, skimming traffic lights. The police watched on, unperturbed.

The jungle was only an appetiser though, because this was the night of the Damas. It seemed every young lady of a certain age has been dolled up in white and put on a pedestal, or at least a float of some description. There was the queen of the parade who evidently got the title on looks alone. She was given packets and packets of streamers to throw out. But it seemed she didn’t realise you’re supposed to hold the inside of the tube and throw so the streamer curls out pleasingly. Instead, she was pegging them, furled, at the audience. This could be forgiven if she were on an early float, as the audience could then unfurl the streamers over the oncoming parade. But she was the end of the show, so more likely just lacking intelligence. Or perhaps she had some vendetta against her home town that she had found the perfect opportunity to settle.

Before the queen of the parade were a broad selection of young ladies in white perched on floats of all descriptions, some with cherubic youngsters throwing confetti ahead, others intermingled with cartoon characters. If I were a debutante in Rota I would have been unhappy to be stuck on the Shrek or Simpsons floats, as a dozen girls were.

After some quick tapas we funnelled into the crowd following the parade to the centre of the old town. There we had some more tapas before realising the crowds had moved on and we may be missing the action. Heading towards the sea we discovered a massive outdoor concert starring some Spanish pop stallion. The plaza was packed, so we stayed on the outskirts, were a bar was selling drinks in takeaway glasses. There we stayed, overlooking the vast crowd. At the very front were the Damas, stripped of their glamorous aloofness, teenagers again, screaming and swaying their white-gloved arms at the pop star. It was like the town’s most eligible women were scrubbed up and served to him on a platter. He crooned to them, in response they waved their gloved arms excitedly, like whitewater in a river. The pure illusion of the Damas was broken.


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