Having fun at the Porec End-of-Season Party?

With bands and fireworks, the Porec End-of-Season Party in Istria is an annual bash held, rather strangely, in mid-August when the tourist season is still in full swing! We went down for a fun night out and to support Snježana and the Giostra troupe.

Being our usual uninformed selves, we wouldn’t have known anything about the Party if Srdjan hadn’t told us we were going. Snježana was part of a team from Giostra – an organisation celebrating life in the Baroque era – performing traditional dances in period dress. Srdjan had been told he was coming, to give moral support. As he’s not very keen on such things, he immediately decided we should come too, to provide him with moral support! He might not have been looking forward to it, but I was – music by the sea; a few drinks; a bite from a food stall and some silly entertainment – all rounded off by fireworks. What could be better on a warm summer evening?

 

Are we having fun, yet?

Porec-end-summer-party-1Unfortunately, at first it seemed he was right and I was wrong. It was a very noisy, crowded affair with deafening, frenetic music. Even standing well back from the stage, you had to shout to make yourself heard – exhausting. Why do people equate loud with fun? But then… “If the music’s too loud, you’re too old,” I guess.

We arrived in the middle of a string of fun-by-numbers routines by animation teams from the various resorts. At least I think so, because unless you were right at the front, you couldn’t see a thing. However, I did see part of a dancing lobster – it’s one of the hotel mascots apparently. I was hot in a light t-shirt and short skirt. I dread to think what the poor sod in the lobster suit felt like. You started to wonder exactly what he was being punished for. Or had he volunteered?

Porec-end-summer-party-2After that was a tug-of-war contest with some really – and I mean really – big guys. The announcer claimed that in rural Istria, villages organise regular tug-of-war competitions to keep themselves amused in the long winter months. This was news to us – and to Srdjan, who’s a local. Perhaps our village, with its 18 permanent residents, should start a team?

 

Porec-end-summer-party-4It was around this point that the lack of organisation became apparent. Snježana was supposed to have been dancing at eight, but by this time, things were running over an hour late. So the Giostra team, dressing up in their heavy brocade outfits, were left cooking in the sweltering heat. (I’ve never been able to decide if the Giostra crew are obsessively dedicated, or just nuts. On this occasion, ‘nuts’ had my vote.) Then, when they finally got to the square, there was nowhere for them to perform. The dances need space: the stage was set up for the bands and wasn’t big enough, and there was no room in front as the crowds had all pressed forward during the tug-of-war. The security guards tried to push people back, but unless you were in the front row, you couldn’t see a thing. And even if you were in front, it was now dark and the only lights were the stage spotlights shining into the crowd’s eyes!

Porec-end-summer-party-5While they were dancing, as we couldn’t see Snježana to perform our ‘cheerleader’ service,  we sloped off for a bite to eat. We went to a temporary restaurant, with a huge tub of mussels and other local dishes. Given the crowds, we assumed it would be self-service, but in fact they were trying to cover hundreds of tables with waiter service. Lots of people simply gave up waiting and so did we. We went looking for smaller, snack stands, but there weren’t any, so we ended up eating fried potato spirals on a stick instead. Clever idea, but not really a substitute for dinner!

 

The Party rolls on

When Snježana turned up from being par-boiled in her Baroque frock, we grabbed drinks and headed away from the loud music. We sat on the town hall steps and, with the music at a bearable level and drinking a ‘plastic’ of wine, it was fun to watch people flooding into the square. Srdjan and Phil enjoyed watching the short skirts walk by: I just wondered where everyone came from and how they were all going to fit in the square.

Just before midnight we left our steps, to try and see the star of the show: Severina – one of Croatia’s most popular singers. But we didn’t stand a chance – the square was packed and then some. I jumped up and down a couple of times and saw a girl on the stage – the wrong one apparently: Severina’s brunette, not a blond. I quite liked the music, Balkan but with a pop/rock production. The others said it just proved I had no taste.

At this point, being old fogies who get up early in the morning, we decided it was time to quit, even if that meant missing the fireworks (which were great, we were assured later). As we left, the youth of Porec was flooding in: they were going to party until morning. It was well past my bedtime.

So, did I have fun, or was it all a big disappointment? I had great fun! The music might have been too loud and frenetic, the entertainments badly organised and impossible to see, and I might not have got anything to eat. But I thoroughly enjoyed my evening out, fighting my way through the hustle and bustle, and seeing Porec humming with life.

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