It was a bit past midnight. We were on the way home from the theater, passing through Parque Turia, when we came across this group doing some worship dancing. There is an impromptu shrine to Mary in front of which they dance.
Here are photos from the last day of Fallas, March 19, 2019. Included are photos of Mary in the Plaza de la Virgen covered with flowers and one or two from earlier on while they are building. Nuria and Zoe in their Fallera dresses in the first photo. We walked about 3 hours to get these photos, leaving a little after 8 am. After around noon the streets at the larger and more famous Fallas get very crowded. Most of the morning the sky was a bright blue.
A high school mate is on my website mailing list. (you can get on the mailing list on the website or PM me with your email address) She wrote, “Thanks for sharing those fabulous photos and your latest artwork. At first I thought they were small, but after several views, oh my heavens, they are huge. Is there a theme in the designs?”
Indeed they are huge. I was standing next to a small one the other day. Bugger than I am! But next to the 15 meter high ones it looks quite small. I try to get some scale in the photos to help the viewer put things in perspective.
There are multiple themes, in fact a nearly endless variety. One major theme is national and local politics, and international as well, this year more to do with Brexit and the reburial of Franco. One showed Franco, Stalin, Hitler and Trump wearing nothing but hats.
The huge one by city hall is an ode to graffiti. There are some excellent graffiti artists here. It’s stunning!
There are quite a few fallas’ that address the treatment of women. This year Spain inaugurated a hotline for domestic abuse, you dial 116. They are now addressing the matter more seriously. I did not see that dealt with immigration. Italy, Greece and Spain are all dealing with immigration from sub-Sahara Africa. Corruption is always a topic. We saw several that talked about pollution caused by plastics. There are more, these are just the ones I noticed.
A Passcalles is a major part of Fallas. The clubs, called Casals, assemble in Fallero/Fallera clothing to march through the street. Here is a short video of one group, accompanied by traditional Valencian reed instruments, called ‘dulzaina’
During the day, aside from the Mascleta in the square in front of city hall, there are dozens of smaller but still loud and impressive mini Masletas put on by the Casals. We went to ours. You can get much closer, which does not do your ears any good, but it is something to behold!
Starting late tonight is the Crema. They burn all these amazing sculptures except for one small example. It’s a lot of unhealthy smoke and aside from the late hour – they are not done until 1 am – this is why we no longer go to any of these events. There are some 800 of these afire in the city, not simultaneously of course.
The Crida is the opening ceremony of Fallas. Here is a good video of the one hour program. There are lots of nice light effects on the towers. The impressive although very short fire boomies start around 50′. You can skip forward wherever you like, especially if you want to avoid the speeches in Valenciano. There is lots of pop music as well as some traditional Valencian folk music.
It was a pleasant evening under the clear night skies.
Last night was the opening night of Fallas in Valencia. That event is a mascleta, a huge fireworks display. It is 10 minutes of non-stop of highly coordinated firework explosions resulting in various formations and figures including stars and spirals, rockets on multiple successive heights, culminating in a vertical mascleta some 10 stories in height that is almost pure rumble, and in fact is called ‘the earthquake.” We could feel the vibrations from across the harbor, several hundred meters away.
In a bar in Cabañal having tapas with Ximo and Andea. They are great company. We tried an array of unusual tapas, thanks to Ximo’s excellent suggestions. Superb local wine. I had a great time with them in May, sometimes in bar and sometimes at Ximo’s place.
Cabañal is on the edge of Valencia, Spain at the beach. The narrow streets reflect the age of the place, which is full of many two story traditional Spanish townhouses. This is a small water color painting.
I am in Valencia for a few weeks, before flying to Poland to visit a string of small cities there. I am staying at the edge of Valencia, actually, in a small town called Nazaret. It is just a few streets wide but it includes Valencia’s huge port, so against the skyline you see the not so attractive cargo cranes. The port is one of the largest in Europe. There is a regular line of ships waiting foir a spot, while some 600 cruise ships disembark thousands of passengers for short tours of the historic center.
Nazaret has many civic groups, many of the secular and a few religious. Among the former is the music association, common to many small towns in the province of Valencia. There are some 800 municipal symphonic bands, one of Valencia’s cultural treasures. Last night a religious group sponsored a paella party. This being Spain, it did not get started until 9 pm. The paella was ready a bit after 1100, cooked over wood fires set on the stone streets. To keep the stone from scorching they spread small piles of sand, upon which the wood is placed. They fiddle a lot with the fires even after they burn down to coals, moving and adding wood to keep the heat in the proper range. Everyone stands about drinking wine, sangria, beer, water or soft drinks, munching on potato chips, almonds – they grow in abundance here – sunflower seeds and whatnot. This is while offering advice to the chef, unbid perhaps, on how much flame, salt or what have you is needed. Everyone or at least his or her mother does paella at home. Paella is a fixation of Valencianos, not the Spanish as a whole, and most households don’t let a Sunday go by without one of the 5 major variations finding its way to the table.
Kids from age 8 or so on up were running about the plaza during all of this cooking. I am not sure if they even stopped to eat any paella. Paella at this time of the day is not common. This dish is too heavy, they say. But this is a special occasion, and there are hundreds at the tables.
There are two ways you share the paella. You can have it served onto a plate, or eat right out of the paella pan. Of course if you are too far away from the pan, you get a plate. I may have invented a third method, which combines one and two. I grabbed a plate to avoid dropping food on my trousers. There is a good amount of oil in this paella so extra caution was called for.
So everyone talks to one another, well more or less, as certainly there are relationship issues. As a general rule in Spain, any excuse for a party will do, and friendly chatter is the general rule. Since I am not from around here, although not by any means the only foreigner, I did get some extra attention, mostly of the where are you from variety. Ximo, my host, explains how we met in Florida in 2005, at an international folk dance event. His parents hosted us for a few days on our first visit here in 2011, while we looked for an apartment. On several occasions his mother made us paella in the small garden behind their house- they have a small farm outside of town with almond trees and artichokes to care for. He and Andrea is hosting me for my short visit this time. I’ll write a few notes about our tapas adventures in the near future.
I did these pen and ink drawings at the Berklee School of Music student concerts at Sala Russafa, Nov 11-13, 2017, except for the one at the bottom, which was at the year-end performance of the Valencia campus of the Berklee School of Music in pen and ink.
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Unlimited edition, 12 x 16″, 30 x 40 cm, high quality paper, printed signature $35 [wpecpp name=”Live at Russafa glicee” price=”50″]
Unlimited edition, 12 x 16″, 30 x 40 cm, high quality paper, printed signature $35[wpecpp name=”Live at Russaf” price=”35″]
Band at El Carmen, 12th century monastery in Valencia. They performed during an event I attended. These monasteries were once brightly painted, but not like this! I have the freedom to decorate the Gothic arches as I please, and I like them bouncing off the page.