Here was the question: where was everybody going to go?
The basic problem was this: today was Montpellier's Gay and Lesbian Pride day (the event is always referred to in English, for some reason), and according to an unreliable source, 20,000 out-of-town revelers were supposed to be coming to town for this.
It was also the 15th annual Festival of Fanfares, which clogged the Comédie with crazy people playing brass instruments and oboes (not the kind you see in orchestras, but a local wooden variety properly referred to as a hautbois) and drums. When I went out at noon, this was all further complicated by the local Palestinian supporters massed with sound systems and leafleters and Palestinian flags, protesting the latest dust-up in the Gaza.
And this was even further complicated by the fact that the Comédie currently looks like this:
That big barrier which goes all the way around the Fountain of the Three Graces, which you can see in front of the Opéra Comique, for which the square is named, is hiding some kind of renovation work that they started months ago, and somewhere on the other side of the barrier is a nice sign which says that this work will be finished at the end of May. Which May, though, is not specified. Anyway, I peeked today, and it's really not finished. To the delight of the café owners whose establishments ring the square, the barrier covers up about 70% of the square footage of the Comédie, where I believe a large number of the 20,000 proud gays and lesbians are planning to dance tonight, because if you turn 180˚ from where this picture was taken, you get this:
Which is a big disco stage from Radio NRJ. I heard the sound check, which was doing the best it could to defeat old-time stereotypes of homosexuals as people with exquisite taste. I imagine that stereotype will be ground into the earth even more in the next few hours, and stop at 1, because it's a city event, unlike a party by Les Lunkheads (who've been pretty quiet recently).
The city solved part of the problem by moving the event I was most interested in, the Fanfares festival, to another quarter of the city entirely, over to the Beaux-Arts and Boutonnet districts, where they've blocked off streets and erected stages so that these weird bands, with names like Texas Couscous, Pink It Black, Monty Pietons, WestCostars, and many others, will play this evening as the beer flows. Without the acoustic baffling provided by the buildings between me and the Comédie, I'd say this would be a bad night to have a place in the Beaux Arts (which, I keep reminding myself, is a pretty nice little district).
I was unaware of the schedule, which starts at 6, so I wandered over at about 3, and stumbled on these guys:
They were playing in the market square, and right after I snapped this, they launched into "Hava Nagila," although I don't think it was a political statement. Unfortunately, at just this moment, my battery crapped out, so I didn't get a picture that was so cute I could probably have sold it to the local paper: behind the tuba player was a little girl of around 3, a look of intense concentration on her face, a wooden recorder gripped tightly in her fist, squeaking along with the band with all her might.
I'm not sure what the deal is with these Fanfares, because I really don't know anyone here clued in to the local culture on this level, but they apprear to be Associations, and their instrument cases have dozens of stickers from similar festivals to this (and a couple of fences along the way to the stages had posters for about a dozen upcoming Fanfare Fests all over this part of the country). The presenters, too, the people who put up the stages, also seem to be Associations, with one wearing the name Les 100 Ado-Rators des "Punk's Not Dead."
Too deep for me. I'm going to stay home and read. I'll miss the hautbois, though. They were intense.
9 months ago