Another busy weekend – this time, so busy I didn’t even have time to post! It’s strange how accustomed one gets to “scribbling” away on a blog, it becomes as much a part of one’s life as brushing the teeth or walking the dog, but, clearly it was the only thing which could give this weekend…….and, whatsmore, I didn’t do lots and lots of things which were on offer…….what I didn’t do this weekend was go to two of the three nights of folk concerts in El Médano, nor to the “side” events during the daytimes; I also didn’t go to the Festival of Divine Light in La Caleta, nor associated the Yoga Festival in Adeje; I missed the free music concerts in Los Cristianos (which, apparently, were terrific – Saturday night I got text messages urging me to go, but I was elsewhere!); and all of that was not to mention a fiesta in Las Galletas and private invitations to party or go salsa dancing……just in case you had any lingering doubts about life here being a touch on the dull side – you know, small island, a bit claustrophobic maybe?? Hah!
So, what did I do? Since I suspect that I am too tired to write it all up tonight, I’ll begin at the beginning, and might leave the rest until the morrow.
Friday night was the real kick off for the International Folklore Festival in El Médano, which I mentioned before. I have a feeling that this festival is going to grow and grow, and possibly become quite famous within the islands. There is one over on the island of Gran Canaria in Ingenio, which is famous throughout Spain, and which I have always wanted to visit, but seeing the program for El Médano’s own version it seemed just as good this year.
It began with a street parade of some (but by no means all) of the groups taking part, the missing ones being all local groups from different parts of the island, so I suppose they had other commitments, this time of year being so busy with festivals, and the Uruguayan one I saw on Wednesday night.
There were groups from Argentina, Indonesia and Mali as well as from Tenerife. Now, I’m as “meh” as most people about “folk” dancing in a way. I find it interesting, but not soul-stirring, until I realized that the amazing dances of Indonesia and Africa are also “folk”; and, as you can see in the picture above of the group from Instituto el Cimarrón, the tango is the dance of Argentina, (although there was a traditional dance from Argentina as well, see below)……now the tango is just about the sexiest dance ever, and puts a whole different light on this subject! Instituto el Cimarrón was formed in 1976 for the specific purpose of teaching the traditional dances, and sends a group abroad each year to spread the word.
Indonesian music and dance I know only from the wonderful videos my friend, Maria, posts of her travels there. They, like these wonderful costumes, leave me with a thousand questions. One thing which seems to set apart Asian folk dances is that they tell a story. Possibly I’m being presumptuous in thinking that European ones don’t. I realize that there are, both in Spain and in England, dances which were danced at certain celebrations or for certain purposes, but, so far as I know, not which actually tell a story.
Klub Peminatan, apparently, have won many prizes since being formed in 2007, with a view to making sure that traditional dances are preserved, and this is their first visit to Spain.
My love of things African is already noted here, and the music of Senegal and Mali I find absolutely entrancing. There is such an energy to it I can’t describe, and it really fulfills the purpose of bringing people together with its rhythms and almost forcing you to have a good time…….witness the way people are encouraged to leap onto the stage and dance during performances of even world-famous artists like Youssou N’Dour. My biggest regret over the weekend is not being able to see more of this fabulous group Africa Guedie. I’d love to be able to post a link here, but there is no information about them online as yet. The group formed only in 2008, so maybe it’s early days, although the program says they have already performed in France and mainland Spain, as well as the Canary Islands, and although they are billed as being from Mali, they seem to represent different West African countries so far as I can make out. I’m just keeping my eye open now for another of their performances!
When it comes to traditional, Canarian folk groups I’ve realized that there is a vast variety in quality, and the songs sometimes are just heart-rending, especially if you hear one of the exceptionally good singers there is around, the songs require a kind of purity of voice which is quite breathtaking. The whole genre is becoming more and more popular, with hours and hours of local television coverage of events. In this sense, it seems to me, tourism does native cultures a favor. I read somewhere recently, for instance, that the art of carving what we call totem poles had almost died out in the western US, having been kept alive only by demand from tourists. Someone has now realized this and is organizing things so that it doesn’t just become a memory. So it is with folk music here. 20-odd years ago it was seen/heard only at serious, local fiestas. Now there are groups performing at all sorts of different events, and town halls and other institutions are offering classes. Agrupación Folklórica Amazig, the group who appeared Friday night, pictured here, dates back only 3 years, but has already gained an enviable reputation, and it didn’t surprise me one bit to learn that fact after having heard them. Let’s be honest, European folk music can get a bit boring, but these guys really brought it to life. The other thing noted, as I remembered from the “living museum” in Chirche, was that there is a high percentage of young people in these groups, hopefully, ensuring the traditions are kept up in the future.
OK – I was totally right. I am beginning to nod off here, as I type away, so I will just end by saying that, YES, I DID have another brownie ice cream on the way home Friday night ( I know – shameless!), and as soon as I’ve shaken off the Sandman and taken care of other things tomorrow I will tell you about the beach clean, the turtle release, the dinner in the 5 Star hotel, the cooking demo in a little village and a wander around a UNESCO World Heritage Site. All this on a wee island of something a bit more than 2,000 square kilometers and under a million inhabitants :=)