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Moros & Cristianos

dancerEach year many cities and towns throughout Spain go to great lengths to produce impressive parades and re-enactments of the battles that took place between the 8th and 15th century between the Moros (the muslims) and the Christians.  The Valencian region takes a particular interest and the event in Alcoy, in April, is the most well-known. 

When you live in Spain its good to rotate your fiesta events as repetition is the name of the game.  This year I wanted to see the Moros and Cristianos parade in Moraira, on the Costa Blanca, as I had friends involved in it. Moraira is a very pretty coastal town with boutique shops, a cobbled street, a harbour and beach and many restaurants spilling out on to the pavements and plazas. Lovely as it is, it is not typically Spanish.  There are a large number of resident foreigners and tourists which mean that you can still eat your British cooked breakfast and your Sunday roast, all ordered in the reliable old English language. But this doesn't dampen the enthusiasm of all to be involved in the traditional fiestas and parades of the region.

From 9-17 June Moraira streets hosted concerts, discos and live music. Gunshots had filled the air for some days and Saturday had seen the taking of the castle and a battle on the beach.  But it was the Sunday parade that I came to watch. White plastic chairs lined the route, rented out at €3 a pop. Parents were bullied into buying overpriced balloons and the whole town began to buzz with expectation...afterall, in true Spanish style, we were made to wait.  But once the rhythm of medival reed instruments and banging of drums set the pace, a steady stream of dramatically dressed Moros and Christians trode the streets of the town to the click and flash of cameras. 

moorscristianosparade

I have seen camels in these parades before, and apparently elephants have also been used, but in Moraira there was a solitary horse - although it was a dancing one! Striking visions in yellow, silver and blue, like butterflies, floated past. Choreography was simple but effective. I was enraptured by some of the warrior-like Moors outfits that, to me, had the theatrical edge. It's the vast headdresses, fur and spears that do it for me! Fireworks sealed the success of the evening.

The parades are made up of 'filas', local groups who meet up for social and fundraising events throughout the year. After much preparation their time eventually comes and they proudly undulate down the streets of their town in spectacular regalia.  Once the parade is over the participants hang out in the plaza and meander the bars enjoying their moment of fame.

I wonder what the muslim community feel about this event.  Surely its not PC. What I will say is that they may be beaten in the battle, but they win in the outfit department.

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