Scenes From Jerez #3: Fiesta

Jerez on New Years’ Eve is a sight: thousands of the city’s young and restless pour into Plaza Arenal to ring in the new year by holding the biggest ‘big bottle’, or botellón, of the year. In a botellón – the logical nocturnal progression of Spain’s al-fresco street culture – the young come together to drink, laugh, flirt and (occasionally) fight their way through the night. The only difference about this particular Jerezano botellón from the countless others that happen every weekend somewhere in the city was its scale and the dress-code: all the gents wore a suit and all the ladies were dressed in only the most beautiful outfit of the wardrobe. The titans of the global red lipstick industry must have been feeling a beautiful mixture of post-New Year’s melancholia and a deep contentment with their life’s lot when they woke up on January 1st to assess their New Year’s fortunes: another party, night out, Sunday afternoon paseo, or normal week-day in Jerez and another boom for the red lipstick barons: and may we say long let them prosper. After asking a friend why everybody was wearing a suit he shrugged his shoulders and answered ¿por qué no? – why not? This is a question which might help us get to the beating heart of the Spanish: they are a people who have seemingly decided that if you cannot adequately answer this question, why not?, then you should not only definitely do it, but do it with gusto. Wear a suit on New Year’s Eve: why not? Carry around a giant Virgin Mary through the streets for hours on end: why not? Dump thousands of tonnes of tomatoes in a town centre and throw them at each other: why not? Permit people to do as they wish with their alcohol, marijuana, bike helmets (bike what-s?), clothing, fireworks, public displays of affection, political and sexual orientations: why not? Build one of the most beautiful societies on the face of the planet: why not?

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