Saturday, July 01, 2006

Gay Pride Madrid 2006

Vikings, Bears, and Short Shorts
Plaza de Alcalá, Madrid, Spain

I'm told this is the largest Gay Pride parade in Europe, and by the sheer number of people here, I believe it. However, as far along as Spain is in the gay rights department, they could use some help from cities like San Francisco with the art of throwing a parade. Come to think of it, if we spent more time on legislation and less time building the floats... hmm.

We begin with a seemingly endless string of societies and organizations that promote tolerance. You've got your lesbians, your deaf gay folks, your university alliances, your religious gays. That's really where I see the most divergence between pride parades here in Europe and back home in the U.S.. Religion is a much bigger issue here.

Spectators are delighted to be a part of this event, as we are looking at the largest collection of beautiful men anywhere. It is stinking hot, so most people clamor into the shady spots, box of sangria or Mahou beer in hand, and cheer dutifully when different groups come by. (But then you have that awkward parade thing where the group gets the crowd riled up then they have to stop for five minutes due to parade congestion. Then no one knows what to do.)

People in costume are at a minimum, surprisingly. The effect of this is that anyone wearing anything remotely themed must pose for pictures every three feet. But we are all about love love love so even the mean tall drag queens don't mind so much.


We *finally* get some float action. A float in this parade is a flatbed trailer, lighting rack, sign for a club or cosmetic draped across the side, and 100 sweating gay men and three women in bikinis stuffed inside. Spectators crane to see the results of millions of hours in the gym, and some stick fingers in their ears to protect against the tinnitus-inducing music blaring from each truck.

Eventually the entire parade route stalls, and the floats crawl along at 100 feet per half hour. The poor hefty guys in the Bearçelona float stop dancing, conserving their energy for when they enter shade again. No matter to the crowd. They go insane for each new float as it inches by, encouraging hardbodies and activist bodies alike to do what they do best. Which today, is to sweat and sing and hurl support at the people who support them right back.

Fanalyst Rating

Fashion: **
Scene: ****
Performer:Audience Rapport: ***
Audience Focus: ****


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