Last night we had quite a storm – rain, wind, thunder and lightning, and if the wind had come up through the cow paddock then it would have been a shit storm as well. It made me wonder how the salsa and kizomba afficionados were doing on the streets of Vic-Fezensac, and if the market stalls and street restaurants had been wiped away.
As much as I appreciated the drenching for my garden, my dusty car, and the rugs hanging off my terrace – notwithstanding a few leaky ceilings around the farm – I was pretty glad when the weather settled down today. I figured that tonight would be the peak night for the festival, and our last chance to see it before an exodus of sleepless kizombies started marching out of town.
After parking on the town’s outskirts we walked up to the main drag, where we could see revelries filling the streets off into the distance.
Every cafe seemed to have its own live band or at least enough loud recorded music to support a road-ful of dancers in front. While the place was positively swarming, it never felt too crowded or pushy like say the Notting Hill Festival in London. The main town square was actually quite sparsely populated and the bandstand in the middle stood empty. Music from bands only half a street away in each direction blended harmoniously without forcing you to raise your voice to talk.
We slowly drifted through the dancers, enjoying the now mild evening and mostly clear skies still like a brilliant blue opal as the last of the daylight departed. It was nearing 10pm and it felt like the night was just getting started. Cars packed with people were continuing to pour into town, although I thought the street control was pretty poor as there were no signs or barriers to divert drivers from the packed space ahead. As a result, car after car came up to the edge of the crowd and then had to negotiate an awkward three point turn to get out again.
We got about two thirds away along the main street before some mean-looking security guards told us we couldn’t go any further. There wasn’t anything I could see differentiating the next section from where we were, and Munson wasn’t the only dog being walked. C’est la vie.
I don’t think we were there more than an hour, but it felt like much longer. I wondered if this sort of event could be held in Australia, or if booze would wreck it before the night would get this far. It certainly helps that these old Gascon villages can easily mimic a pueblo or barrio street with little distracting neon or long glass façades to invite injury. If I’d been thinking ahead I might have foregone dinner at home for a table at one of the restaurantes cubanos o antillas.
As we left, the street illuminations were standing out more as the sky darkened, with no visible flagging of energy from dancers, and if anything the volume of inbound traffic had increased. It’s certainly the most energetic of all the Gersois summer festivals and tonight was definitely going to be un gran tiempo.