La Palma has several fiestas where the devil appears. He’ll visit Tijarafe in the early hours of September 8th for the annual fiesta del diabolo. This is the night of Saturday to Sunday.
It starts off like most fiestas. The village centre is off the main road, and on the way in, you pass the usual mobile bars, blasting out music at full volume. In the main square, higher up, people dance to the salsa band.
Something I always notice at Palmeran fiestas – a lot of the younger people are pretty drunk, but it’s very rare to see a fight. In fact I don’t think I saw as much as a rude gesture last time I went.
Finally, at about 3:30 am, the giants and big heads appeared. These are standard carnival characters, and they wouldn’t excite adults normally, but they’re a sign that the devil will appear any minute.
The band launches into the traditional song, which goes something like, “Tra-la-la-la, the devil’s coming soon.” And then, sure enough, he appears.
The Devil’s dance, Tijarafe, 2007.
It’s a man wearing a metal suit covered with lit fireworks, and he heads straight for the middle of the crowd. Most of the jet is directed upwards, and I don’t think you’d get serious burns if you got too close, but most people try to get away. (I wouldn’t wear your best clothes to this fiesta. I really wouldn’t.) Of course some people farther away try to get closer, so the result is a lot of pushing and shoving. (Don’t take small children either!)
Meanwhile the band is singing, “Tra-la-la-la, the devil’s here now,” and “Tra-la-la-la, the party’s not over yet.”
After about five to ten minutes of this chaos, the devil runs out of fireworks and goes away. The Virgin Mary’s defeated him again! And then the crowd thins out pretty rapidly as people go home. Boring normality is restored for another year.