|After! Not actually the same beach, but you get the idea.|
But I'm not going to write about work. This post is about my interesting (and slightly bizarre) experience yesterday at the Biarritz Carnaval! I was a little miffed to be leaving Germany just before the Karneval in Cologne, so I'm glad to say this experience served to compensate a little.
Now, Biarritz is in the Basque country, so one might expect plenty of traditional folk dancing and Basque costumes going on. And you would be right. There were costumes and folk dancing galore. There was, however, a whole lot more to it than that!
My first inkling that something was going on in the city was hearing a weird rhythmic bell/drum beat whilst quietly minding my own business in a café. It turned out to be coming from a group of men dressed in sheepskins and pointy hats, with giant bells strapped to their backs, who marched rhythmically up and down outside the café window. Next came a whole procession of people in costumes (mostly involving paper streamers stuck indiscriminately onto hats, coats and skirts), followed by a road train. Obviously.
|Sheep-men with bells|
|One of the less-freaky specimens. Observe stick in hand...|
A crowd seemed to be gathering on the park's fronton court (apparently fronton is a sort of violent form of squash (the sport, not the vegetable) which people in this region are very keen on), so I headed that way and observed the aforementioned procession (minus train) gradually arrive and form a substantial crowd. After a few minutes milling around, we were all shunted to the sides, leaving space for the performances to start. As mentioned, hip-hop dancing ensued, with impressive results (my boss tells me they have a pretty successful club going). After this came some more traditional Basque folk dancing, accompanied by a group of rather shrill whistles/recorders/pipes. Part of the dancing involved some intricate footwork around a glass on the floor, which seemed to be a bit much for the performers, most of whom managed to break theirs. This left the coordinators to rush on and hurriedly sweep up the broken glass and replace it with a new one for the next dancer to break.
|Hastily replacing the glass|
|Glass-breaking dancers before the glass-breaking occurred|
|Dancers in baggy shirts, veils and streamer wigs.|
|Unicorn-onesie had called for reinforcements by this time|
But of course, he had to be punished. So they set him on fire, much to the trauma of all the observing children.
|Commentator recites the numerous misdeeds. Newspaper man still unsure of his fate...|
|Three against one! Seems a little unfair...|
|Things aren't looking great for poor newspaper man|
And that, following a lovely meal at my boss's flat (she is the best), was my experience of Carnaval! Beats Cologne any day! I'm just sorry I never found the crêpe battle...