Friday, 30 March 2007

Fallas, some more stuff

So, Fallas is all about pyrotechnics, both visual and aural. The Valencia Autonomous Community is widely regarded to be home to some of the best firework technicians on the planet, most famously Ricardo Caballer or his relative Vicente Caballer (these things run in families) but also others. Locals have their preferred artists, and firework displays of both kinds are reviewed in the culture sections of the papers.

The pictures taken by myself and my friends can never hope to recreate the Caballers' genius, I recommend you take some time to look at the sites and their picture galleries, especially of Valencia's Fallas fireworks and above all the 'nit de foc' (night of fire) which is the climax of the firework part of the festival on March 18th each year. I tell you, you've never seen fireworks til you've seen these. Really. I was at the Bastille Day bicentennary commemorations in '89 and they were nothing compared to this. Valencians do things with fireworks you would literally not believe possible, my friend A burst into tears with overwhelmedness at it all.

Meanwhile the daytime 'sound' fireworks, the mascletà, is if anything even more extraordinary. It's between 5 and 10 minutes of explosions, designed and structured to create rhythms and patterns and to make your entire body shake and fill the air with smoke and the smell of heavy explosives and make your ears hurt and your breastbone rattle in your body. I love it so much I can barely tell you. You can find some videos on youtube but even with the volume turned up really loud you don't get a proper sense for it. When they're doen reallty well you can dance to them. I'm not going to show you photos though, it's just a lot of smoke filling the square. What you need to know is this: a few years ago, they decided things were getting a bit over the top. So they introduced a new regulation to limit the amount of explosive you're allowed to use during your 5-10 minute show. A paltry 2,500kg. The killjoy bastards. Hehe. It's the closest, aurally, that most of us will ever get to being in a war zone. And fuck me but it's fun.

So already, in short, I can't wait for next year. And there's still more Valencia stuff to mention to you all in a day or so.

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