Trans-Iberian

Trans-Iberian

Covering everything from the major news of the week and burning social issues, to expat living and la vida local, EL PAÍS’ team of English-language bloggers offers its opinions, observations and analysis on Spain and beyond.

You can’t stop the party

Por: | 08 de agosto de 2014

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Thirteen thousand people had a date last weekend with French DJ David Guetta at a much publicised event in Majorca, only to be stood up at the last minute when it transpired that the promoters hadn’t quite got round to organising all of the paperwork. “Boo”: a lot of disappointed people and “Whoops”: terrible PR for the internationally famous DJ who had only just got over the embarrassment of another gig being cancelled due to licensing issues at the Jarama stadium in Madrid in July (also organised by the same promoter).

As the news was announced coincidentally Guetta’s manager was having lunch with the owner and founder of Ibiza and Mallorca Rocks, Andy McKay. A plan was soon hatched to try to stage a free gig to compensate the fans.  Only a quarter of the original audience would be able to fit into the snug confines of the Mallorca Rocks Hotel, but it was decided that at least this would be some way towards making it up to the people. At a press conference on Wednesday evening, prior to David taking the stage at Mallorca Rocks in Magaluf he and his manager spent twenty minutes with the press: a rare chance to meet a man who is adored all round the world.

David Guetta at Mallorca Rocks PHOTO CREDIT PHOENIXMEDIAMALLORCA  (2 of 5)
The first questions from the press were dominated by the subject of “what exactly happened?” Guetta replied, “To be honest I don’t know what happened, I was ready to take the flight to go play and they told me it was cancelled, my team was there, everybody was there, the sound check,  everything, we were ready to perform.  When I do a concert I am hired by a company who is the promoter, and they hire a venue and I work for them. Unfortunately it was cancelled at the last minute; I felt really bad for my fans, and I wanted to give something back to them”.  Guetta went on to thank Mallorca Rocks and Andy McKay for the enormous effort they had made with short notice.

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It’s hard to understand David Guetta’s appeal until you have experienced the effect his music has on an audience. To many people a DJ is just someone who puts on records, but to others a DJ takes you on a journey through sounds, beats and melodies interspersed with meaningful lyrics and potent hooks to bring you back around and deeper in. This is what David Guetta is famous for, producing and playing music which makes people feel good. He has been DJing for more than twenty years, but only really started to attract attention in 2001 and then hit the big time internationally in 2009 with “When Love Takes Over”. He has collaborated with a roll call of famous singers and musicians, including Rhianna, Kelly Rowland, Flo Rida, and even Madonna. What did he think of her? “She is a legend, I respect her longevity.  I am finishing my next album now and it’s difficult to reinvent yourself as an artist so many times, so I respect this a lot. To have one record which is amazing is already great, sometimes it can be an accident, you have a sound or an idea and it comes at the right time, but when you do it every time then it’s really something else”.

David Guetta at Mallorca Rocks PHOTO CREDIT PHOENIXMEDIAMALLORCA  (5 of 5)
It wouldn’t be summer in the Balearics without a single from Guetta, and he has finally released his offering for 2014. “It’s called “Lovers on the sun”, I’m finishing the video now, I produced it together with Avici and we are presenting a new vocalist, Sam Martin. As much as I have been working with the big stars I like to work with new talent as well”.

The French are famous for being the “avant garde” and being in front of the fashion, so in five years’ time what kind of music does he think he will he be doing? “In five years? I have no idea. I am actually learning about how to live in the present. This is a very tough job for me because I am completely a control freak, I always want to know what is going to happen and plan everything. My personal journey now is to try to enjoy the present and to live without the fear of the future, so it’s not the right time for me to answer a question about what I am going to be doing in five years because I am doing all of this work not to think about it!”

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The press conference closed with David being asked what he thought of Majorca compared to Ibiza “You shouldn’t ask me the question because I don’t know Majorca enough. But by definition I prefer Ibiza to any other place in the world, but that’s not to say that I wouldn’t love Majorca as much”.

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Having heard the roars of love and excitement from the crowd as they waited for their idol to come to the stage at the completely packed out Mallorca Rocks Hotel on Wednesday night I think Majorca is quite fond of him as well. Guetta made a short speech to the audience saying “Thank you for coming, nobody’s going to stop THIS party!” and with that he played his hits back to back and inside out for two solid hours.

 

 

Photos and text: Vicki McLeod 

More photos at Vicki's blog here.

Vicki McLeod is a freelance writer and photographer. She has lived in Mallorca since 2004. Vicki writes about her beloved islands for The Majorca Daily Bulletin, the only English language daily paper in Spain; produces regular columns for the Euro Weekly News, and articles for Spain-Holiday.com. Vicki runs PR strategies for several businesses in Mallorca and London as well as working on her own blogs and projects. She and her husband, Oliver Neilson, supply photo and text content for private clients via @phoenixmediamlr. She tweets at @mcleod_vicki. 

Shhhh Seville, I'm trying to sleep

Por: | 06 de agosto de 2014

Plaza

I clearly remember my first night’s sleep in Seville. It was 2am as I slipped into bed, late by UK standards, though in most Spanish cities the time when an already ebullient population comes into its own. But for the next 4 hours I was party to, rather than partying with, a pulsing arterial flow of revellers going from one bar to the next, stopping just outside my bedroom window for a typically Sevillano animated chat. Throw in a bit of flamenco sung by someone who’d clearly had one Ballantine’s and Coke too many and a stream of passing cars and motorbikes, it’s easy to see how a peaceful night’s sleep was never on the cards.

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I managed to last 2 years living in an area in the old part of Seville called the Alameda, before throwing in the towel (and earplugs) and moving a quiet stone’s throw away to nearby district, The Macarena. So I do have some sympathy for the vociferous outpourings of groups such as the ‘Sevilla sin Ruido’ (Sevilla without noise), who campaign against the city’s noise levels, proclaimed by the World Health Organisation as the second highest in the world. You would imagine then that such neighbourhood action groups would be delighted by the recently announced noise abatement measures introduced by the city council to temper the cacophonous reality of every day life in the Andalusian capital.

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The lengthy official document outlining a whole host of bylaws appears not to leave any stone uncovered, in which noise pollution misdemeanours include playing dominoes or dice on a bar’s terraza, eating standing up outside a bar, shouting and singing in the street, no unnecessary revving of car engines or playing music too loud on the car stereo, no pulling tables and chairs along the ground on outside terraces, no televisions set up outside bars, no honking car horns unless to warn of a possible collision or danger, no car alarms going off for more than 3 minutes, no leaving noisy domestic pets alone and no playing musical instruments at home if there have been any previous complaints by neighbours, to name but a few.

There is, however, one important fly in the ointment. While most of the legislation is geared towards guaranteeing the basic human right of getting a good night’s sleep, the environmental inspectors charged with measuring noise levels on their specialist equipment work only during the day, with any night time complaints being left to the judgement of the local police force as to whether decibel limits have been broken. And on this auditory discernment, would be based the fines of between €300 for minor infractions up to €300,000 for more serious cases, plus the immediate closure of any commercial activity that has infringed the legislation.

However, some of Seville’s noisiest but most entrenched traditions find themselves exempt from the noise restrictions. Religious processions such as the week long Semana Santa parades, church bells and rockets fired to send off the hermandades on their way to El Rocio, all get a big, noisy thumbs up from the council.

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And much to the ire of ‘Sevilla sin Ruido’ there is a surprising and much out of character leniency with nightclubs and karaoke bars bordering residential dwellings, which will be able to operate with levels of up to 90 decibels as long as they have the appropriate soundproofing within. The complaint being that this will not legislate for the inevitable late-night loitering outside the venue as cigarettes are smoked and the world is set to rights in alcohol-induced high tones.

This is the problem: Sevillanos are a city of street dwellers. I don’t mean in a no fixed abode kind of way, but just that it goes against their very nature to sit down in enclosed spaces, with doors firmly shut, when there’s a whole world of street corners and pavements beckoning invitingly. It partly explains why there are a staggeringly small number of bars boasting cool interiors and decent music; people just aren’t interested. Entertainment is a small, cool Cruzcampo beer in hand, somewhere to lean your elbow, some animated conversation and the warm, sultry Sevillano night air.

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In the past in matters of noise pollution and general social nuisance, it was easy to point the finger at the seething masses of the botellón generation, knocking back liter bottles of beer, smoking spliffs and making a racket until either the police moved them on or the street cleaners literally hosed them away. But this new legislation strikes at the very heart of Sevillano-ness, i.e. the positive lifestyle choice of eschewing sofas and going to bed at a sensible time, choosing instead to linger outside, beer in hand until the early hours. I mean really, can you realistically prevent a Sevillano from consuming their tapita standing up outside a bar? I would hazard a guess that even the most militant of anti-noise protesters sneaks in an alfresco ration of jamón, elbow perched on an upright table from time to time. So at the risk of layering one sweeping generalization on top of another, it would be like banning Romans from eating ice creams in a piazza or Brazilians from playing football in the street. It just goes against nature, and I’m not sure that’s something you can legislate against.

It’s Barcelona Parklife - and you’re all invited

Por: | 25 de julio de 2014

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If you wanted to know what life was like in 90s Britain you could do a lot worse than listen to Blur’s Parklife, an album that represented the peak of the band’s Kinks-ian observational songwriting and helped to kick off Britpop as a whole.

The album has its weaknesses - much has been made of its musical conservatism and obvious debt to the past - but it struck a chord with the British public, staying in the charts for 90 weeks thanks to a narrative songwriting approach that journalist John Harris compared to “a bittersweet take on the UK's human patchwork” in his 2004 book Britpop! Cool Britannia and the Spectacular Demise of English Rock.

Nowhere is this more obvious than on the album’s title track, an ode to people watching in London’s Hyde Park that erupts in the all-telling chorus: “All the people / So many people / And they all go hand in hand / hand in hand through their Parklife.”

Not for nothing is an ode to a park the centre of this album: the British love going to parks and London is dotted with some of the most beautiful green spaces to be found in any of Europe’s capitals. British people eat, drink and procreate in the parks and - maybe even more than the local pub - they represent the essence of British urban life.

I was wandering around Barcelona listening to Parklife this week, when I realised that the same can be said for the Catalan capital. Barcelona may have a beach and boundless squares, teeming with human interaction. But there is only one place to get to the heart of Barcelona life: Parc de la Ciutadella, 70 acres of green space, fountains, playgrounds and zoo to be found on the edge of the city centre.

Ciutadella is not just the city’s most popular park, full of life from dawn to dusk and even beyond. It also tells a story of the city - as all the best parks do - marking Barcelona’s evolution through the weeks, months and years.

In itself, the history of Ciutadella is fascinating: in 1714, after the War of the Spanish Succession, Barcelona fell to Philip V of Spain, who flattened a large percentage of the city and built the citadel of Barcelona right where thousands of families had lived. The hated citadel looked out over Barcelona for more than a hundred years until it was turned over to the city in 1869, with the majority of the site being turned into the Parc de la Ciutadella.

That alone would make the park a fascinating place. But Ciutadella is anything but a historical relic. You can feel the modern city move in the park’s bones, as the morning joggers and dog walkers give way to lunchtime picnics, afternoon sunbathers and evening revellers; and Monday’s lunching workers slide into Sunday’s sweaty hedonists, wringing the last drops of sunshine out of a long weekend.

You can watch the seasons pass there, too. In winter Ciutadella is functional, a cold, windswept space to take the dog for some relief; in spring it blooms, playing host to live music and culture; but the park finds its apotheosis in summer, as thousands of locals and tourists seek escape from the relentless heat under scraggy trees and on welcoming benches.

But the passing of time is nothing without people and Ciutadella tells a social history too, its users offering flesh-and-blood proof of how Barcelona has changed over the years, becoming a truly global city where people from all over the world come to live, work, holiday and make new lives.

This story is inescapable. A visit to the park one Sunday in July reveals Argentinian football supporters rubbing shoulders with French tourists;  dancing Indian women sharing space with Catalan jugglers; a multiracial group playing an endlessly circling drum coda on the bench; and - everywhere, like some vast, unexplained rash - people practising their circus skills.

It is a social phenomenon. Many places are. But the park is a great democratiser too: unlike, say, the Camp Nou, that other great symbol of Barcelona’s changing life, you can’t buy a better space at the park and if you want to go there you have to share it with everyone, from Swedish tourists on gleaming new €1,000 bikes to the unfortunate people who sleep under the trees, emerging bleary eyed in the morning form makeshift camps to brush their teeth and wash in the park’s water pumps.

All Barcelona is here, in other words, and - if the people may not quite be going hand in hand, Blur style - they’re generally rubbing along well in their Catalan park life. 

And such is a story of modern Barcelona.

“We will not be silenced” Greenpeace stands up for Ibiza

Por: | 24 de julio de 2014

Greenpeace denounces Scottish oil firm Cairn Energy's plans to drill for oil off the island of Ibiza. PHOTO CREDIT  Pedro Armestre  Greenpeace (2)

Ibiza is best known for all-night clubbing with an A-list celebrity crowd and partying, but it  is also home to two national parks, environmentalists living off the grid on solar power, and is considered of such ecological and cultural importance that the UN designated the Balearic island and its surrounding waters a world heritage site. Despite this the Scottish oil company Cairn Energy has been granted a license by Spanish central government to explore for oil off of the coast of the white isle at the nature reserve Es Vedrà.

When the news broke there was public outrage and local people and even local politicians were in agreement that this should not happen. In February 2014, more than 10,000 people marched through Ibiza Town, and around 60,000 signed a petition against oil exploration in the region. Twenty people posed naked covered in mock oil for a piece of performance art. Then the battle went online: Ibiza loving celebs protested and the response was so incredible that everyone thought that the threat had been thwarted. Sadly, no as was highlighted recently when Greenpeace’s flagship The Rainbow Warrior arrived in Ibiza and then came on to Mallorca to spread the word about the impending threat to the Balearics.

Cairn Energy whose plans to look for oil in the Arctic have made it the target of green campaigners in the past, says that although it holds licences to explore for oil in the Gulf of Valencia, to the north-west of Ibiza, any seismic testing or the drilling of test wells is pending. The company is awaiting a decision on its environmental impact assessment by Spanish authorities due in late summer, which will determine whether it can continue. The government says Spain imports more than 99% of its oil and gas, at great expense, and that it must ensure energy security.

I took the chance to interview Joel Stewart, the Captain of The Rainbow Warrior. 

 

  Captain Joel Stewart (2)

VM: How long have you been with Greenpeace? How did you become part of the organisation? Captain Stewart: I was born in Oregon in the U.S.A. I am a professional commercial captain and I had been volunteering for Greenpeace and participating in manifestations. In 1989 I heard about the job vacancy for Captain on the new Rainbow Warrior and applied for it. It’s very important that we follow all of the regulations as Greenpeace is frequently targeted by organisations and we have to have everything in order. It’s very important to have sympathy for the goals that Greenpeace is working towards: you need to be an activist at heart and have a sincere wish to make changes and motivate people. 

What is the most important thing you have done during your time with Greenpeace? The campaign right now is definitely the most important one I have been involved with. My biggest goal is to end the age of fossil fuels and save the biodiversity of our oceans. We must stop this runaway train which is out of control. If we continue like this we’re going to be extinct. We are losing the Arctic ice: we will face environmental disaster, the sea levels will rise, there will be hurricanes, and typhoons: that will be our future. Can you imagine parts of the world being uninhabitable? We could have more than 50 million refugees.

The urgent challenge is how we are going to get off of fossil fuels. We have to do it, and we have to do it now if we are to avert disaster, if we don’t we are leaving our next generation to suffer. We have to stop. If we don’t stop then we have lost the battle of climate change.  We have to draw the line here. As the Arctic ice cap melts you will be faced with an extreme mega drought in the Balearics, are you ready for that?

What do you think is the most important thing we as individuals can do for the environment? We can do a lot through our own personal choices and actions. We can minimise the use of fossil fuels in our day to day lives, we can ride a bicycle rather than drive a car, but the main thing we must all do is lobby the politicians. We must vote out the politicians who are supporting oil exploration and vote in politicians who support clean energy.

  A banner on the inflatable reads “Prospeccions No, Renovables Sí (Exploration No, Renewables Yes).  PHOTO CREDIT Pedro Armestre  Greenpeace (3)

Does it make any sense to you that the big oil company Cairn has been given the rights by the Spanish government to even propose this exploration?  You shouldn’t let these people into the Balearics. We don’t want the government to support the reckless actions of Cairn. The main economic employment in the Balearics is tourism. Cairn claims that with the exploration there would be economic benefits, but there would be none for the inhabitants of the islands, all the money would be kept by Cairn and any employment would be given to cheap immigrant labour rather than locals. Far from representing a domestic, independent energy source, the fuel could be exported and sold to the highest bidder. The profits would belong to Cairn, not Spain. In fact the oil drilling would destroy many beaches and the livelihoods for the fishing community in the Balearics.

What is involved in oil exploration? What happens? Central government have given the license to explore despite the desires of the local government. The first stage of this is the seismic (acoustic) tests which are due to start in November. Marine acoustic tests devastate marine life, interfering with the ability to orientate, breed and navigate. Eggs and larva are destroyed and internal bleeding, injuries and eventually death, are the result. The area where the drilling is proposed to happen is home to oceanic Posidonia, a giant sea grass only found in Europe. The Posidonia, a flowering plant commonly known as Neptune grass, creates a five-mile underwater meadow to the south of Ibiza. It provides an important place for fish to breed, and serves an ecological function by cleaning the water. The proposed drilling site is also in the middle of a cetacean (dolphins) migration corridor.

How big would the threat be of an oil spillage? How likely? If they start drilling in a deep water environment as they proposing to do, there is no way they would be able to contain a leak. Cairn is looking at exploring for oil at depths of 1,000-1,500 metres, which would mean its platform had the same characteristics of Deepwater [Horizon, the source of the 2010 BP oil spill]. If there was a spill, it would be the 'Balearic problem' because of the currents. Even in the Gulf of Mexico they couldn’t clean it up. If there were an oil spillage it would affect all the coasts of the Mediterranean: France, Italy, Spain. The entire sea would be inevitably fouled. And to add insult to injury what happens when these sorts of leaks occur? Who do you think pays for them? It isn’t the oil company who pays for the clean-up; it is paid for with public taxes. They are not held liable for even a fraction of the cost.

  Activists from the Greenpeace ship Rainbow Warrior protest at Es Vedrà Islets Nature Reserve near Ibiza, Spain. PHOTO CREDIT  Pedro Armestre  Greenpeace

The Greenpeace info says that the activists erected an "oil containment barrier" at Es Vedra. What is an oil containment barrier? Why did you do that? We did a demonstration with an oil containment barrier. They are a bit of a joke really as they don’t actually work in open water. They are supposed to float on the surface and make it more difficult for the oil to move around. But the reality is that it would not be able to contain a spillage as it is not effective in high seas or rough weather. We want to make sure that you understand that if you as a country allow this drilling to happen that you are going to wipe out your biodiversity in the Balearics. You will wipe out many species of sea life.

Do you think the campaign has had any effect or impact? People have been visiting the ship at every port of call, and we have been very pleased with the response.  We have been partnering with Mar Blava Alliance and we are very happy to support them in what they are doing to protest and oppose this drilling. I can tell you the people I am speaking to everywhere we go are very concerned about what is happening.

In our study, Energia 3.0, we show that by 2050, a future scenario of a global energy model without fossil fuels, using 100% renewable sources of energy is both technically possible and economically feasible. Greenpeace see the world as being on the cusp of an energy revolution, compelled by the pressures of climate change. Even the extremely moderate United Nations say that burning fossil fuels is the principal cause of global climate change. This, they insist, has to stop. For the future of everyone.

What would be suitable replacement energy sources for the Balearics? We have a lot of options for renewable energies, many of which are completely feasible. The only thing we have to do is get the political will to change and to insist on change.

Has Greenpeace changed anything about their campaigning approach since the problems the Arctic Sunrise encountered in Russia? We are not going to allow ourselves to be silenced; we will not let anyone silence us. We are increasing our campaign for the Global Arctic Sanctuary.  Five million people have signed to support us. We will not allow any government, country or company to illegally imprison our crew or our ship. We will take action when and where we deem necessary to continue to push for the end of the use of fossil fuels.

What can we do as individuals to prevent the oil exploration happening in the Balearics? 

Visit http://alianzamarblava.org/en/  and sign the petition, follow them and Greenpeace on Facebook, Twitter, whatever you use.  

Sign the Greenpeace petition against oil exploration in the Mediterranean: put your Passport number where it says DNI if you don’t have that number, and leave the phone number blank.

Like https://www.facebook.com/ibizasaysno

Share this article on the social networks. Let people know what is happening.

Use the hashtag #ProspeccionesNO

Join the campaign against drilling for oil in the Arctic Sea - whatever follows there will irrevocably determine the future of the planet.  

Simple lifestyle changes you can make: 

  1. Recycle, treat your local environment with respect. 
  2. Don’t leave litter.
  3. Support businesses which are actively making an effort to do the same.
  4. Don’t use the plastic bags from the supermarket.
  5. Take a reusable one or use boxes if you have a car.
  6. Cut your plastic consumption by buying 5 litre bottles and refill your small bottle each day.
  7. Cut down on use of your private vehicle. Use public transport, walk, or cycle.

At the time of writing the Spanish government has granted Cairn Energy an exploration permit and is currently waiting for an Environmental Impact Assessment to start seismic testing.

 Captain Joel Stewart was speaking to Vicki McLeod (@mcleod_vicki)

To read more articles about people in Majorca please visit www.mallorcastories.com 

Background sources: The Guardian, Greenpeace, Ibiza Spotlight

 

 

Behind the mask, the Andratx Dimonis

Por: | 17 de julio de 2014

Port Andratx Carrefoc 2013-9204

From the very first time I saw a Dimoni at a Mallorcan fiesta I was terrified of them: unpredictable, crazed creatures dressed as devils running down the streets at night wielding fireworks, flaming torches, (occasionally) chain saws, and making incredibly loud explosive bangs. What’s not to be afraid of really? My husband, Oliver, on the other hand saw the photo opportunities that these amazing displays of lunacy brought and so last year at the Port Andratx fiestas in July he took some photographs and put them onto our Phoenix Media Mallorca blog and Facebook. What happened next was not what we expected: the Dimonis  got in touch with us and it turned out that they weren’t the insane “Health and Safety” nightmare that I had always thought they were. In fact take away their frightening devil masks and all of them have sensible adult jobs, many of them are parents or even grandparents, are completely responsible and very, very friendly.

Port Andratx Corre Foc 2013
Our friendship started with the Dimonis  just commenting and reposting my husband’s photos on Facebook, then when we exhibited the images at the Night of Art in s’Arracó we actually met some of them and were invited to participate in a Nit de Foc (Night of Fire). “Well, I guess it would be interesting to see how it all works from the other side of the street”, was my answer, whilst internally fretting about the likelihood of spontaneously combusting from my fear of the bangs, proximity to things that are burning and the sheer naughtiness of the Dimonis . That is what they to represent to me: cheekiness, lewdness, mischief; they are hell raisers, and here for some fun.

Port Andratx Carrefoc 2013-9437
The practice of the Correfoc and Demons has been in existence for a long time in Catalan culture but it wasn’t until the 1970’s that it made it over to Mallorca. Now there are 40 groups in the Federation of Dimonis, but my area, Andratx had not had one until three years ago when the Dragomonis were formed by a nucleus of a handful of people. I met with Jaume the President, Biel, Marga, Asier, Ramon and Marina to find out more.  If you ask them why they decided to start a local group the simple answer you will receive is that they wanted to have the chance to participate in a local cultural speciality. “We knew that people wanted to do it, so we decided to form a group”.  The group is mainly comprised of Mallorcan people but anyone can join. Dig a little deeper and you find that there’s a lot of work to running a Dimoni group, and a lot of paperwork. The fireworks that they so liberally use on the nights of fire are strictly regulated and it is becoming a true labour of love for them to source and acquire the types of explosives that they can use.  “We have to argue that we need them for cultural reasons otherwise we cannot get them to the island” said Ramon. Although from the outside it seems to us safety conscious Brits that the Dimonis are haring around the streets with bombs there is in fact a strict safety protocol that they follow and every member of the Dragomonis is trained in how to handle the materials.

Andratx dimonis backstage-4232
So we took up their invitation and last August Oliver and I went backstage with the Dimonis at another fiesta. It was the middle of the summer and extremely hot even late in the evening. When we arrived most of the prep had been done for the performance as it takes many hours prior to each event: the horns are loaded with fireworks and everything is checked and double checked beforehand. Nothing is done randomly, although it will seem that way: the whole event is planned meticulously. “Everything is under control, we have to think about a lot of things, we are watching people in the crowd all of the time” said Marga. As they prepared backstage we could feel the concentration deepening, and the group solidifying. There was a camaraderie amongst them which was appealing, and I started to feel that I wanted to be part of it. Even though I was terrified of the unpredictable bangs and the closeness of the sparks I began to understand the attraction of putting on a mask and participating. You could see the Correfoc as a live performance art form, and elements of the pagan Dimonis have emerged in street theatre and protest theatre performances. 

Not so scary when it's in a bag...
What’s it like to be a Dimoni I asked Asier just before they began. “When you put on your mask and see the people through those eyes it is fantastic. Although the noise of the explosions and the whistling of the fireworks are very loud you don’t really hear it, you absorb that sound; it is as if you are under water”.  I stand to the side of the area where they perform and watch. The band drums a relentless beat throughout. As Asier had said, the high pitched whistling sound of the fireworks begins to fade away as I watch the team of demons. Oliver, not afraid, is in the middle of the action shooting images. Marga and Asier dressed in their costumes and masks try to encourage me to run with them and dance under the fireworks and sparks: I don’t, it’s still too scary for me, but I do start to see the method in amongst the madness and notice the systems that they have to keep everyone safe. The fireworks are only lit in one place and then once they have stopped sparking they are disposed of in a specific area, and behind them at a discreet distance are the Bombers, the firemen.  The smell of spent fireworks hangs heavily in the air, a delicious scent of gunpowder: I suppose you either love it or hate it. I begin to realise this is also a chance for personal expression for the individual Dimonis. Who doesn’t want to go crazy and stir up some passions and emotions now and again? Later I ask Ramon what he thinks about the current condition of Spain “The future is not clear, we are fighting for our culture.” By dancing with fire and running their group with such passion they are doing exactly the right thing. It’s not just about being naughty it’s about enriching the local community and bringing the local people together. 

Port Andratx Carrefoc 2013-9415
I don’t see the Dimonis  again for many months. Over the winter they perform again in Andratx. I am so excited to see them, and this time I do dance with them, leaping around the plaza like a crazy person, knowing that in their hands I am safe and it’s okay to just let go. Finally I understand the meaning of the words they have written on their blog in Catalan. “We cannot leave the evidence behind us, of adrenaline, images recorded in our retinas, of how we feel our bodies dance inside the rhythm of the drums. Connecting with the people through a force. We can only look at the photos and remember. We continue to leave traces of what they call history, because we like it, because we need it, and because the people do too”.

Look out for fire celebrations throughout the summer, many of the local fiestas in Mallorca will have a “Corre Foc” programmed.

The Andratx Dragonmonis perform at the Andratx fiestas in July, August, January and June. Do not miss them. They’re the best dancers.  You can find them on Facebook at Dimonis  Andratx or on their blog at www.Dimonis deandratx.blogspot.com.es  Some of the images from the fiestas will be exhibited in the August at the Night of Art in s’Arraco.

Text Vicki McLeod (www.mallorcastories.com)

Photos Oliver Neilson (www.phoenixmediamallorca.com)

 

Authors (Bloggers)

Jessica Jones. Hailing from the north east of England, Stockton-on-Tees native Jessica has had a passion for all things Hispanic from an early age. She has lived in and written about France, Chile, Spain and Germany and has been contributing to the Trans-Iberian blog since 2012, when she moved to Madrid after graduating from Durham University.@jessicajones590

Joseph Walker. A graduate of Leeds University, Joseph is a sports journalist based in Madrid, and has written on and covered a wide range of events, from the Champions League to Gibraltar’s first ever UEFA match and Spain’s national rugby team. He writes columns for several websites and will pen his thoughts on the latest goings on in sports-obsessed Spain. You can find him on @joe_in_espana

Ben Cardew is a freelance journalist, translator and teacher, now resident in Barcelona after growing up gracefully in Scotland via Norwich. He writes for The Guardian, the NME and The Quietus, among others, on everything from music to digital media. You can find him on Twitter @bencardew

Jeff Wiseman is an experienced journalist and comedy writer. He was formerly editor of ‘InMadrid’, a monthly English-language newspaper in the Spanish capital, and has contributed scripts and sketches for radio and television in the UK. Published his first book, ‘Shawley Nott: Comic Tales from England’s Strangest Village’, in 2013.

Billy Ehrenberg is an Journalism MA student at City University in London. He lived in Spain for three years, in Granada, Madrid and A Coruña, translating and teaching English. He has written for The Times, The Western Morning News and The Plymouth Herald in the UK and has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2013. He enjoys telling stories with numbers and infographics, data visualisations and general statistical tomfoolery. He tweets from @billyehrenberg

Paul Louis Archer is a freelance photographer, multimedia storyteller and artist educator. A cross-disciplinary worker, who endeavors to encompass the mediums of photography, audio design and writing. Born in Hertfordshire of an English father and Spanish mother. Based in the United Kingdom. @PaulLouisArcher

Chris Finnigan is a freelance journalist based in Barcelona. He writes for Barcelona Metropolitan and is a book reviewer and reader for The Barcelona Review. He is a graduate of the London School of Economics. You can find him on twitter @chrisf3757

Eloise Horsfield is a writer and translator currently based in Seville. Her work has featured in various UK nationals including the Daily Telegraph and The Sun. Originally from London, Eloise cut her journalistic teeth at the Olive Press, an expat newspaper on the Costa del Sol. She has been contributing to Trans-Iberian since 2014 and tweets at @EloiseHorsfield

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