Wednesday, October 17, 2012

san froidance

I was lucky enough to arrive in time for the festival of Lugo’s patron saint, San Froilan, which ran from October 4th to 12th. I’m going to frame this post by describing my attempts to do three things: 1. finally eat some pulpo a la gallega; 2. go to some of the plethora of free concerts; and 3. figure out who the f San Froilan was.

1. Pulpo a la gallega
On Friday, the last official day of San Froilan, my roommate C and I both had the day off. We decided to head into the center to check out the Medieval Market (I take full credit/blame for that major nerd moment), and search out some lunch.

We ended up at As Cinco Vigas (shock!) where we ordered two raciones (basically a jumbo-sized tapa). One was shrimp in a spicy garlicky olive oil-y sauce, and the other was, of course, pulpo a la gallega. Predictably, it was delicious. Octopus + salt + olive oil + pepper + potatoes = happiness.

Success? Yes. (Although I must admit that if I had really been going for style points, I should have eaten my octopus at one of the food tents specifically catering to San Froilan’s insatiable hunger for pulpo.)

pulpo a la gallega
2. Free concerts!
I love music. I love live music even more, so I was super-pumped to see that San Froilan’s schedule included six or seven free concerts a day. Unfortunately, a lot of them were at kind of awkward times, so I didn’t get to as many as I would have liked; and equally unfortunately, a lot of the ones I did get to were not um, that amazing. Sorry, I am just not that excited to see old dudes in black leather doing a Spanish-language version of “Sweet Home Alabama.”

However, there were some good ones. The first night of San Froilan, one of the smaller stages featured a showcase of three local bands: Os John Deeres (pronounced “yohn deer-es”), Machina, and Terbutalina. All of them were pretty punk-influenced, which isn’t usually my thing, but they had great energy, and it was awesome to see how into it the crowd was.

Good Show No. 2 was the, ahem, “Black Music Festival,” or San Froidance. I love rap, so I was pretty curious to see how Spain interpreted one of my favorite genres. Turns out it wasn’t really rap or hip-hop at all, just a bunch of DJs playing (thankfully) non-house-based dance music. I was disappointed that ASAP Rocky and KiD CuDi didn’t end up putting in an appearance, like I was hoping, but I still had a great time dancing like a fool.

My third pick is kind of an oddball one. Last Thursday night, I was headed home at the shamefully early hour of 2 a.m. (note for parents: most people stay out until six or seven in the morning) with a few friends, when we randomly stopped by the stage in the Praza Maior. A well-known Galician band was playing some traditional music. Again, not really my thing, but the cool part was seeing all the pairs of Galician grandparents spinning each other around the plaza. At 2 a.m. (Again, parents, before you get all antsy, note that grandparents party later than I do here.) It was such a quintessentially Spanish moment. I can’t imagine something like that happening in the US.

So, success? Mostly.

the grandparents who schooled me in partying, Spanish-style

3. Figure out who on earth San Froilan was
In the early days of the festival, I asked my friend’s Spanish roommates who San Froilan was. Their answer? “An excuse to party.”

I assumed they just weren’t that up on their Catholicism, and innocently assumed the teachers at my school would be able to clue me in. The most descriptive answer I got was along the lines of “I think he was a pilgrim, and maybe he stopped here or something?”

So I decided to challenge myself to figure out who San Froilan was, by the end of the festival, without resorting to Google. I enlisted the help of friends. I asked semi-random people. (Unfortunately, I did not get the chance to ask my school’s sacerdote.) Finally, after five days of frustration, another assistant and I resorted to Wikipedia.

Turns out San Froilan is the most boring saint of all time. He was born in Lugo. He studied religion. He became a hermit. He went on a pilgrimage. He founded a couple of monasteries. He became a bishop. The end. If this dude was my patron saint, I wouldn’t be that excited about him, either.

Success? Only by cheating.
San Froilan, pilgrim-ing along

And now, it’s back to normal life in Lugo.

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