The 29th of September is the feast day of St Michael. Since he’s the patron saint of Tazacorte, the town celebrates with their famous dancing horses. Famous on La Palma, at least.
It’s fun. As you can see, a horse-shaped frame gets covered with strips of brightly coloured tissue paper. The “jockey” fits through the middle, and makes the horses dance. Altogether, there’s about a dozen horses and one giraffe. Actually, whoever made the giraffe didn’t spend a whole lot of time in zoos. It’s exactly like the horses, except that the neck is a lot longer.
The procession stars near the town hall. The band plays Mexican music, and horses move very fast, which makes it very hard to get a good photo, especially since there isn’t much light available. They dance through the streets for maybe a kilometre, and then they have a break. At this point, a lot of people get their photos taken with the horses. Mostly, I think, children from the town. (Like most fiestas on La Palma, tourists are welcome to join in, but the locals do it for themselves.)
And then they dance their way back to the town hall, where the dance speed up, and the crowd mixes in with the horses. By that time, the crowd were singing, Lo que pasa es que la banda esta boracha – “The thing is, the band’s got drunk.” They certainly weren’t, you know, because they kept perfect time as the music got faster and faster and the dancing got wilder and wilder.
One website says the horses date back to the 19th century, while the book on Palmeran fiestas says it was brought from Cuba “in the twenties”, and the horses originally danced during carnival. I haven’t been able to find out what the word fufo means. There is a Mexican word fufu, which means “to rebel against a difficult situation, like a spitting cat.”
And after the horses, there’s a parade of carnival-style floats. To my surprise, there were only three of them, but they were beautiful.