It’s probably safe to say that many people in Valencia are tired of Las Fallas by March 20th. It’s entirely safe to say that everybody in Valencia is simply tired. Fireworks in the middle of the night, explosions at all hours, bonfires that begin between 12:30 and 1:30 am, nearly-all-night dance parties designed to infiltrate the non-insulated windows of everyone within a many-block radius–it all adds up. But now that the bands and fireworks don’t wake us in the morning, we plan to catch up on sleep, and on sorting through the many pictures we took during the festivities.
Before we leave Las Fallas for another year, I’ll take this last chance to bury you in pictures, and then sprinkle on some links in case you want even more.
First, El Guapo tracked down the song that we’ve heard so often, played by the many bands that wander through the streets. I’ve opted to spend my time hunting for more pictures for you, rather than for a translation of the lyrics, so we’ll just bask in the Valenciano this once.
The falla that you see burning during the video is the 2015 main falla in the city center:
Next: I was sworn to secrecy earlier, but I can now share pictures of a falla in the nearby town of Torrent. You’ll recall that we went in search of fallas-in-progress a few weeks back. El Guapo has an artist friend, Miguel Arraiz Garcia, who was willing for us to come to the shop where he was building an unusual falla, entirely styrofoam-free. He graciously allowed us to lend a hand for a little while as well.
Miguel and his crew gathered branches pruned from trees in the city, trimmed them to fit together, and used papier-mâché to connect them. They were then wrapped with tissue paper, using liquid latex to secure and waterproof. The overall design involved a crimson center cube, surrounded by a red perimeter wall, with a narrow entrance in the outer wall and space between the two structures where people could walk in between them.
The structures were relatively large but very light, and comparatively easy to transport. Last year Miguel had to arrange for moving a huge wooden structure from Burning Man in Nevada to a a museum in Valencia for an exhibition. I’m sure that was on his mind when he designed his falla this year.
During the course of the last week we saw several more fallas that were echoes of the pre-styrofoam era of fallas construction. Some were in the scrap wood category:
Some were much more classic in construction:
Here’s a wooden one that I really enjoyed: it features the Trojan Horse of technology. There’s a sad puppy holding a leash, knowing he can’t compete with the internet, and a mom feeding the side of her baby’s face because she’s looking at her phone.
I was happy to see that seated beside the falla was a group of school children, doing old-school drawings of this cautionary tale:
I’m actually not sure if this next sculpture is an official falla. It’s possible that it’s just street art. Looking at it, El Guapo mentioned that he hoped they wouldn’t burn it, thinking of all those noxious plastic fumes. But they’re probably not much different than burning the typical contemporary falla, which produces continual billows of alarming smudgy dark smoke.
In terms of unusual fallas elements, these guys have sort of fake fur hair, which I think worked well.
I’ve gathered for you a collection of many of this years big fallas faces:
Here’s another view of the big head facing the other way, at night:
Though it’s difficult to make sense of what you’re seeing in a photo that tries to capture an entire falla, see what you can do with this one, which zooms out from the last picture:
Here’s a scene that benefits from a little commentary: the horse is pulling some sort of fancy conveyance down a path, but one of the drivers has dangled a carrot out to one side; everyone’s going over in the next minute. I’m sure there’s a wealth of political analogy that can be drawn out of this one.
Here are a couple infantils (the smaller fallas structures that burn early, in time for the kids to see (10 or 10:30 pm!):
Finally, here’s an animation of the infantil whose burning we watched:
Once you’ve climbed out from beneath all these photos, if you’re interested in more about Las Fallas, here is last year’s post on the flower offerings and the huge statue of the Virgin clothed in the bouquets brought by all the falleras and falleros. And here is a collection of various links for further exploration. As always, typing “fallas” into the blog search bar will bring up lots to look at.
Lack of sleep has made us feel a little like this cat, but that should soon be remedied. By the time the next season rolls around, I’m sure we’ll be ready to go out looking for more to see. As a parting shot, here’s a video that seemed to us to capture the festival pretty well:
[Images: Yours Truly and El Guapo]