All La Laguna Was A Stage But It Was All White On The Night

Either there were 180,000 zombies, a mass outbreak of insomnia, or it was Noche En Blanco in La Laguna. This was the third White Night held in the centre of the Tenerife university town just north of Santa Cruz. Basically the white is the lights that attract people like moths to a very exciting flame until 3am, shops, restaurants, museums, galleries, and bars were all open until the wee hours.

The 150 official activities started at 10am on Saturday with lots of family and child friendly events to ease everyone into the action. Heading up via Santa Cruz and then the tram I missed the morning and such delights as the theatrical hairdresser, a canine stylist, and the chocolate fountain (could have been messy) all in the pedestrianised historic centre of town.

Rounding the corner from the tram stop I was nearly garrotted by an aerial runway set up next to a climbing wall that a small child was trying to scale with help and a harness. From then on it just got more bizarre, I went into the Casa de Los Capitanes to pick up a guide booklet, they had a half size copy of Picasso’s Guernica on display – made out of 40,534 pesatas of different nominations. It took five years for the Puerto de la Cruz artist to polish, varnish, and mount his money – not the bloke you want at the post office counter in front of you.

Moving on the streets were already awash with people, as well as the official attractions lots of street performers had set up – everything from living statues to jugglers, face painters, balloon modellers and food stalls sold chestnuts, hot dogs and burgers, even the scouts were knocking out arepas. Many shops had spilled out into the street and were doing fashion displays and make overs – I might have been a challenge too far. Every now and then the crowds would part as young basketball players dribbled down the street, unicyclists wobbled along, or small carriages bounced over the cobbles.

My plans were fluid but I did want to do the tour of the Teatro Leal, the grand theatre built in 1915 and restored to former glories three years ago so I joined a group of 20 on the 5pm trip. A very flamboyant actor from the Burku Theatre group led us inside where the banked four tiers of plush red seating swirled around us as our leader ran through the history. Then leading us onto the stage we took in the full majesty that greets the actors, at a subtle signal to the wings, the front few rows of seats sank below ground level to reveal a small orchestra pit. If I had fallen I could have said it was just a stage I was going through.

Taking the back stage stairs we stopped off to see the compact dressing rooms with rows of individual make up desks and mirrors. Then it was out onto the third tier for a panoramic view of the sea of sets below, one young man went outside looking a bit peeky, vertigo his friend told us. I thought what a wimp, but then we went up to the top tier where the seats were higher than the balcony just in front of them and I kept a firm grip on the arm rests.

Our host was again in full theatrical flow when a lady dressed in finest historical evening wear wandered out on the balcony and introduced herself as the muse of comedy and delivered a little dance and a snatch of Shakespeare. Suddenly on the other side of the chamber another similarly dressed lady appeared holding a dagger and bemoaning her lot in life, this was the muse of tragedy. The two figures exchanged banter as they drifted together and departed, out tragic friend reconciled with stories of her great past performances. It was smashing stuff but one more treat awaited us, a trip up onto the roof to view the dusk of La Laguna as the sound of happy voices wafted up from the street.

Outside it was dark now but the Christmas lights and window displays ensured a magical setting for the next phase. A fire eater breathed a hot trail into the air and a belly dancer gyrated in a doorway, chestnuts glowed and daytime coffees were replaced with beer and wine. Music filled the air and performers seemed recharged as more people poured into the city centre. I enjoyed a few more musical interludes at different stages in the many plazas before heading back down south. The party was destined to run for a few more hours yet, it was a brilliant initiative, full praise to all those who put in so much effort.