And it is that the suspension for the second consecutive year of the Bonfires, together with the growing desire for Fiesta (now that vaccines have restored hope to a society in need of encouragement) have left an atypical, strange June, which we hope will not be repeated. Rarer if possible than in the past 2021, where the feeling, because of the concerns, was another.
So exceptional is, this time, this month always marked by the Bonfires in Alicante, that the President of the Generalitat, Ximo Puig, was seen for the first time in the Election Gala of the Bellea del Foc, that was passed through water. The rare rain has little, yes. A Puig who followed the festival from the authorities’ box, along with his main rival in the pretense of continuing to lead the autonomous government, Carlos Mazón, who arrived with a lament that he did not hide («And Spain, playing right now … »). Dose of political morbidity between the festive tension of the night. It is not usual to see the tenants of both palaces (the one on Carrer dels Cavallers and the one on Avenida de la Estación) in those parts. Will there be repetition prior to elections?
Puig, this time, was just enough. Perhaps what is required for the first time, never enough to move decisively out of the comfort zone. After the rigorous snapshot in the “photocall” with the newly elected, he left. It was, and it was noticed, a scene alien to their routines, with more party-goers than high-ranking officials. It was plenty of time, yes, for the socialist Francesc Sanguino to get his trophy of the night: a photo with the boss. He seems needy, and he doesn’t hide it. So much so that he made the press officer of the municipal group go to the outside of the bullring with a single purpose: to immortalize a more than fleeting encounter. In order not to miss the long-awaited greeting, he stood guard in front of the access of authorities, without talking beyond what was required -for education- with the rest of the political positions present. He succeeded: he took home the snapshot with Puig.
On the other hand, you will not be able to frame the traditional image with the new Bellea del Foc and her court of fire. The socialist was the only representative of the municipal corporation who, despite accessing the reserved area of the Patio de Caballos, did not take a family photograph (Mario Ortolá did not even attempt to enter by not allowing his wife, the trustee, to enter of Vox in the Valencian Courts). From Protocol, despite the recent hookup with Sanguino, he was searched among those present. Fair enough, yes. The socialist was but as if he were not. The usual. There are things that do not change despite the exceptionality of this June.
And there are things that do. At the gala there were news, and the unexpected. Of which they give that to speak in the later groups. And not because the rain threatened, luckily without success, with perpetuating the aforementioned jinx of the current managers of the Fiesta. No. Unexpected news raised attention to the Farewell speech of the Bellea del Foc of 2019. In that stretch of the festival, there are usually no lines outside the script. But this year there were. They did not go unnoticed, among the festeros, the affectionate and neat words that Isabel Bartual he dedicated to the people who ran, provisionally, the Federació de Fogueres when he was elected maximum fire representative. Personalized messages, nothing formal, with pauses necessary to contain the emotion of the moment. Words and gestures that contrasted with that tiptoe transit by the members of the current party leadership. Things from this atypical June, two years old that go a long way also at the Fiesta.
Nor is it usual for the spotlights to point to a single protagonist during the Election Gala shows. The magic resides in the choral assemblies, in the union of the bonfires. This time, because of the pandemic, there were no mass dances. But there was music. And although the “Hallelujah” that resounded in the square they say was not a cry of hope in Cohen’s head when he composed it back in the eighties, this Saturday it sounded like liberation. A new stage. To turn the page. A renovation. To move forward without forgetting. To look optimistically to the future, despite keeping alive present memories. A “hallelujah” that added hundreds of improvised voices of partygoers.
There is a lot of desire to achieve, this time without return, normality. And they are perceived. In just one year, the commissions will wear their evening gowns for the awards ceremony on June 22nd. That will mean that there will already be reasons to celebrate. Meanwhile, despite those ninots that are seen in the streets, those virtual mascletás, that sale of gunpowder to calm the monkey, those bulls without a fair, those holidays without parties and those Belleas del Foc without Bonfires, there are still steps to be taken to achieve the long-awaited normality. A long-awaited setting that is still further away for the Fiesta. One year for June to be June, the month of the Bonfires, for Alicante to meet again.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.