Posts Tagged ‘DJ’

There was a moment yesterday when I felt like Neo being advised by Morpheus.

“This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back. You take the blue pill – the story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill – you stay in Wonderland and I show you how deep the rabbit-hole goes.”

We were standing at the apex of anarchy with our backs to the relative tranquillity of Plaza Charco. In front lay two streets; both were swirling cauldrons of bronzed flesh each moving liking a single organism. Our ears were assaulted by house, dance, trance, trad Canario and that odd whistling El Hierro music – we were on the edge of the abyss and there was only one way to discover whether it was the portal to heaven or to hell…we swallowed the red pill and jumped in.

You might think that my intro is a bit exaggerated, but believe me there were moments on ‘Embarkation Tuesday’ in Puerto de la Cruz when I felt that we were engulfed in an open air hedonistic mad house as our senses were assaulted by a relentless barrage of noise, colour and smells as upwards of thirty thousand people danced, drank, ate, fought running battles with hi-powered water pistols and threw themselves, or were thrown, from the harbour ramparts into the cooling and usually calm harbour waters.

Even when youre planning on getting wet, youve just got to be colour co-ordinated.

Even when you're planning on getting wet, you've just got to be colour co-ordinated.

I could imagine Father Dougal turning to father Ted with that goofy look of his and declaring:

“It’s all a bit mad isn’t it, Ted.”

Embarkation Tuesday is the highlight of Puerto de la Cruz’ July Fiestas and is generally an excuse for the townspeople to cut loose and party like it’s 1999 (or whatever people party like it is these days).

Carnaval street parties might be lively affairs, but if anything Embarkation Tuesday is wilder…it’s certainly wetter. It’s unlikely that anyone is going to try to throw you into the harbour if they don’t know you, but I always keep my back to something solid when I’m taking photos just in case. What is guaranteed is that at some stage someone is going to take you out with a well aimed jet from a water pistol.

“Aaargh,” Andy shouted at one point. “Somebody just shot me in the boobs.”
“Wow,” I answered, impressed. “Must have been a damn good shot.”

Look out behind you!

Look out behind you!

The truth is that after a few circuits under a sun whose fierce rays could fry eggs on lobster thighs, you’re almost begging people to ‘shoot’ you in an attempt to cool down. Had I not had my camera around my neck, I’d have welcomed a detour into the refreshing embrace of the harbour’s water.

As the afternoon progresses the party gets wilder, the music gets louder and the beer flows faster. There’s an almost ‘dare’ element to attempting to walk down streets like Calle Perdomo where gun battles rage and there’s always a danger of being taken out by smart bomb from above (aka as a bucket of water thrown from a balcony). We spotted one just about to be tipped over us and did a sharp detour to the other side of the street just as the people around us were drenched by an explosion of water.

At one point in the midst of the madness I had an anxiety attack and wondered where all the other ‘extranjeros’ were and where did they get all that white meat for the ‘pinchitos’ that were sizzling at the entrance to every bar – were the two linked? (Southern Comfort – the movie, not the drink – is responsible for this paranoia that occurs every time I find myself in the middle of a frenzy of music, eating and drinking and I’m not a ‘local’)

We had decided that we weren’t going to queue for hours to see the embarkation this year. We done it year after year and it’s always a test of stamina, but at around 6pm we spotted an almost empty prime position on top of a wall beside the harbour and were seduced into thinking: ‘it’s a wall, it’s only a couple of feet wide – nobody else can squeeze in there.’

Boy, were we wrong. Canarios, like nature, abhor a vacuum and despite the danger of the wall collapsing, or someone falling, they piled in behind us, inching forward at the least sign of weakness. It’s always the way, you have to come to accept it, but it’s rarely done with malice or anger.

Many Hands Make Light Work

Many Hands Make Light Work

The Virgen and San Telmo eventually turned up to be loaded onto their boats at around 8-ish to shouts of ‘No Pasa Nada’ and after a day of drinking beer, eating spicy pork and chicken pinchitos and being machine gunned by water pistols on numerous occasions we were able to retire, exhausted, to the calm sanctuary of our house.

Embarkation Tuesday is great fun, but there’s an underlying seriousness to the day’s events and the loading of San Telmo and the Virgen del Carmen onto their fishing boats is a deadly serious affair. If I’ve made it sound a bit crazy, then good. Like I said it’s great fun, but if you’re the slightest bit fainthearted, take the blue pill and enjoy it from the fringes.

See more photos of Puerto’s day of madness here.

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The Sardinada Stall - you'll be smelling of grilled sardines for days

Two things occurred to me as I was doing my customary shuffle, which masquerades as my version of dancing, to dodgy music at San Telmo during the ‘Sardinada’ last night.

The first was that I remembered that I actually originally liked ‘I Will Survive’ before women in Britain turned it into an anthem celebrating the fact that they were crap at choosing the right man. Here there are no screams when ‘First I was afraid, I was petrified…” starts to blast out of the speakers, immediately followed by hordes of girlies rushing to the centre of the dance floor belting out the lyrics with heartfelt emotion. Here it’s just another song. Well, actually it’s still a gay anthem, but that’s okay – that doesn’t make you feel that you’re responsible for doing the dirty on every woman in the vicinity just by virtue of your sex.

The other thing that occurred to me was that we were seriously starved of good music. No, that’s unfair. We hear lots of really good Latino and traditional Canario music all the time. It’s just that every now and again we’d like to hear a bit of Faithless, or the Kings of Leon, or the Killers…or even Robbie Williams. But the DJ who preceded the Latino band San Telmo last night was stuck firmly in the early eighties. He started well enough with a bit of Amy Winehouse, but within a few lines changed it to ‘Black is Black’ and a Stars on 45 medley that they used to play in discos when I was 18.

It didn’t matter, it wasn’t Latino, or Canario, it was something different and when the Bee Gees started singing ‘Staying Alive’ I felt Tony Manero course through my veins and suddenly it was 1979 and I was imagining I was John Travolta again. Luckily enough I hadn’t downed many cervezas, so there was no embarrassing attempt to actually replicate his moves from Saturday Night Fever (not this time anyway), but I did sing-along with mucho gusto as did Andy.

DJ in Puerto - If Gene Hunt time travelled to Puertos Sardinada - would he know hed time travelled at all?

DJ in Puerto - If Gene Hunt time travelled to Puerto's Sardinada - would he know he'd time travelled at all?

And so it continued as Karma Chameleon was followed by YMCA (the crowd here don’t spell it out) and then some really bad Spanish Euro pop which the crowd of twenty to fifty some-things lapped up. Ironically the teenagers opted to congregate on the promenade above San Telmo waiting for the Latino band to strike up before they swamped the natural dance floor overlooking San Telmo’s rock pools. The DJ finished his set with ‘Song 2’ by Blur – almost the most up to date sound he played all night (Amy didn’t count).

It was kitsch music, but it was really good fun and Puerto was buzzing with an infectious fiesta atmosphere.  Before we’d musically time-travelled, we’d forked out our €3.50 each for a plate of grilled sardines, a chunk of anis bread and a cerveza and sat on the wall peeling the sardine’s delicate and salty flesh away from its bones as a stream of stylishly dressed young Spanish and Canarios paraded by like models in an unplanned fashion show.

The Sardinada is only the ‘warm up’ event for Embarkation Tuesday, but it’s a wonderful experience in its own right and shows Puerto and its people’s joie de vivre at their best. It was one of those nights that make you wonder is there a better place on this earth than this town.

“What do you think of this generation?” Jesús asked Andy.
“I don’t know what you mean.” Andy replied, looking perplexed.
“All this smoking pot, drinking…partying.”
I could see from Andy’s expression that she was contemplating giving Jesús a clip around the ear.
“Don’t talk to me as though I’m your grandmother,” Andy snapped and turned away mumbling something about ‘every generation thinking they invented the wheel.’

Ritmos del Mundo

Ritmos del Mundo

I meanwhile was trying to focus my camera on the DJ and the bikini and swimwear clad dancers in Lago Martiánez who were gyrating to Michael Jackson and REM remixes. I say trying…a cloud from the spliff the guy next to me was smoking was adding unwanted affects to the scene and probably adding mellow effects to the atmosphere…on the other side a couple of diminutive elderly Canarians definitely had a stoned look.

There’s a rather disturbing trend going around the young lads of Puerto de la Cruz. Their hair is quaffed up a bit like a duck’s arse on the top of their head. It’s not exactly a gay look, more camp model…think Derek Zoolander. Add tight Speedos to the equation and it’s almost laugh out loud funny.

“Haven’t they seen the movie Zoolander?” I commented. Maybe they didn’t realise it was a comedy.

We were listening to the Ritmos del Mundo, a 13 hour DJ fest. Ritmos del Mundo means ‘rhythms of the World. Any other place and you might think that you were in for a WOMAD type event. In Tenerife world music usually means that it’s simply not traditional Canarian. And so it proved to be the case. The music was good and certainly added a thumping buzz to Puerto’s Saturday night scene, but the main age range in the Lago looked to be around 15/16 so we decided to stick to the fringe before heading along the promenade past living statues, the hair braiders, caricature artists and a hilarious life sized Canarian version of a Punch and Judy show to one of the coolest bars in town, Soho, owned by a friend of Jesús.

Lago Martiánez, Ritmos del Mundo

Lago Martiánez, Ritmos del Mundo

It was quiet in the bar, at 11.00pm it was still too early for the local populace, so we sat at the bar with a Peroni whilst Jesús borrowed ‘Bobbybob’s” iphone to show us some photos of him swinging an imaginary golf club at the Abama Golf Course. It was the first time we’d seen an iphone in action. MY GOD when did the future arrive? We realised that our humble little mobile was not even an abacus in relation to that sexy piece of technology.

We’d only really popped into town to have a look at the ‘Ritmos’ fest, so headed back for home at a relatively early hour. Passing the top of our road we noticed that the restaurant which had formerly been The Swiss House, and La Chaveta before that, had re-opened. It’s a fantastic little traditional house with the most picturesque courtyard; the perfect setting for a restaurant.

This time it’s called Tres Casitas – ‘three little houses’ which is pretty much an accurate description. Personally I reckon the change of name from La Chaveta to the Swiss House had much to do with its previous decline, so Tres Casitas is definitely an improvement.

“Let’s pop in for a drink,” suggested Jesús. “After all, we’re almost neighbours.”

Jesús’ attitude typifies the difference between Spanish openness and British reserve.

“But it’s a restaurant not a bar and it’s late…and I’ve passed it anyway.”

I’d driven about 20 feet past the courtyard’s entrance. The road is single track and my reversing-along-narrow-lanes skills are woeful.

“Aww come on, man. It’s neighbourly.” Jesús insisted.
“Yeah, Jesús is right, let’s have a look,” Andy ganged up.

I reversed the 20 feet, a painful process to watch, and parked outside the bougainvillea covered entrance. There were only a couple of diners left and they were just about to leave. Jesús asked if the bar was open; an academic question as Canarian bars are open as long as there’s someone in the place.

The bar is in one of the casitas; sloping beamed roof, rough cerise walls, a huge black and white print of Ray Charles on the wall and music to match. The bar itself is gleaming polished wood which runs the length of the room. It was the sort of bar you could spend a lot of time in. We introduced ourselves and Andy and I listened as Jesús and the owner chatted about the menu and cooking, catching only about 70% of what was being said.

It’s quite a small menu, but it’s clearly quality and dishes like swordfish carpaccio; smoked cheese, jamon Serrano and strawberry salad and the house speciality – cochino asado (barbecued pig) suggest traditional Canarian cuisine updated for the modern palate. Some ingredients are grown in the casita’s ‘huerta’ (vegetable garden), whilst others are specially selected from elsewhere, like the pimientos brought in from La Palma because of their unique flavour.

We’ll definitely be going back at an hour which is more suitable for dining to try it out, but I’m willing to bet that it’s damned good which is great as it’s only a few minutes stroll away.