When you’re going to be sharing a beach with upwards of 17000 other revellers, it takes some serious tactical planning to choose the right spot. We’d been here plenty of times before and knew that a wrong decision can put you in the flight path of the hordes of sea bound San Juan-ers intent on reaching the shore to bathe in the magical Midsummer waters.

As the sun goes down, the candles are lit

As the sun goes down, the candles are lit

This year we got it perfect. A small palm tree with a view of the stage and the bonfire and equidistant from the sea and the toilets (you have to take all things into consideration when planning a campaign of this magnitude) acted as our base.

The Noche San Juan celebrations in Puerto de la Cruz are always a major event with families descending on Playa Jardín from around 6pm. We like to get their early to stake out our patch, dig our hole, decorate it with flowers and candles and chill out before the evening’s entertainment hits full swing. That usually means nosy-ing at what else is going on; like the guy in the worst swim shorts ever…I mean Speedos with skulls on them…where are the fashion police when you need them. The oddest person on the beach was a very smiley elderly woman with badly dyed black hair. She wandered up and down the beach pausing to smile at the decorated excavations, ours included. Nothing odd in that except she clearly had an obsession with pink. Pink T-shirt, pink ankle socks and get this, she also was licking away at pink ice cream.

Sunset at San Juan

Sunset at San Juan

You’re always guaranteed a good show in Puerto and this year was no different. Somewhere around nine the first of two traditional Canarian bands started and as darkness descended candles were lit all across the beach and the magical night really got into its swing.

With San Juan, the atmosphere heats up as the night progresses. The sand fills up with people around you and laughter and singing fill the night air. There’s always an ‘arty performance’ included and I reckon any savings on this year’s event must have been made here. Whereas last year’s involved an elaborate show and a horde of acrobats suspended above the waves, this year’s offering was one bloke swinging from a high pole above the castle, but it seemed to be the only concession to the ‘creesees’. The firework display to music might not have been on a Tatton Park scale, but it was still spectacular.

Hot night on the beach

Hot night on the beach

Ironically what really ignited this year’s fiesta was the rock band Los Salvapantallas from La Palma. I say ironically, because what usually rings the bell of most Canarios, young and old, is the island’s traditional music, so it was a surprise to see the crowd go wild to the best of 80s rock anthems. By the time the band struck up a rock version of ‘Mamma Mia’, the beach was a bikini clad boogie land.

The band’s electric guitars were still screaming by the time midnight arrived and Andy and I stripped down to our swimwear and negotiated our way through the crowd to the magical waters and another first.

I can honestly say that I’ve never stood waist deep in water at midnight with hundreds of bathers all of whom had their arms in the air clapping a rhythm to ‘We will, we will, rock you…” as multicoloured strobe lights raced across the sea lighting us all up. It was one of those delightfully bizarre little moments.
The water this year was much more temperate then previous years, so a lot less goose pimples and shrivelled bits…which was a bonus.

Rocking the Beach

Rocking the Beach

The band were so popular that they were called back for 4 encores before the official entertainment ended and the bongo drums and guitars were brought out around us. Before we knew it, it was 2 am. The atmosphere was still seductive, but we wanted to see ‘el baño de las cabras’ (goat bathing) in the harbour the following morning and so reluctantly dragged ourselves away.

I had one last thing to do though.  I wanted a shot of the beach from the jetty which reaches out from the Castillo San Felipe. I left Andy and set up my mini tripod and within a few seconds was surrounded by a group of sloshed Gomeran lads who, spotting that I wasn’t Canario, were keen to educate me about the fact that Canarios weren’t Spanish, they were Canarios, which was a lot better.
Funny how having a couple of beers and a few glasses of rosada does wonders for language skills. Whereas I have some days where my Spanish speaking seems to fly out the window, with the lads I had one of those times where I was able to understand and converse easily.
Don’t ask me how, or why…it was them directing the conversation, but in the space of a few minutes we covered La Gomera and silbo, the Scots wearing skirts, Catholics and the use of Durex, homosexuality and finally the English versions of Spanish swear words before they invited me to a party at their house which I declined.

That’s the Noche de San Juan; full of fun and odd little experiences; I love it…but if anyone saw a group of lads wandering across Playa Jardín shouting “mootherfoooker’ at each other it had absolutely nothing to do with me.

The Midsummer waters

The Midsummer waters

  1. sounds magical – wish i’d been there – even just for the pink lady!

  2. Alison says:

    Great piece of writing! Oh how I wish I had been there……..

  3. dragojac says:

    Thanks…it’s one of our favourite fiestas (and that’s saying something coz there’s shedloads of them). It is a wonderful experience not to be missed.

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