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Friday 14th June 2013

javeamigos.com | JAVEA: PENYA COM A GAMBES

The historic centre of Jávea bursts into colour and noise this evening with the official start of the Fogueres de Sant Joan de Xàbia. And the expat group Penya Com a Gambes will be emerging themselves into the festivities once again as they explore and discover the traditions and customs of one of the town's biggest fiestas of the year.

For those who might unaware of what peñas might be, they are essentially the protagonists of any town's fiesta, providing the colour, the noise and in many cases, the entertainment during the festivities. Most have grown up together, their roots set firmly in the past, and have been continued through the generations. Others might be more recent, the younger generations coming together to create a new bond with which to move forward and carry the torch into the future. In Jávea alone, there are more than 100 different peñas for the Sant Joan festivities.

Penya Com a Gambes - the name is a tongue-in-cheek reference to the cliché that foreigners in Spain tend to go a painful pinky-red colour like prawns and drink a few beers too many - was created in 2012 by a group of friends who wanted to learn more about what it would be like to be directly involved with the fiesta of Sant Joan rather than standing on the sidelines, watching the fun and games with curiousity and maybe just a little jealousy. After months of planning, they first came together as a group on the night of the Pregón of the 2012 festivities (click here to read more about that first meeting) with the support of deputy mayor Oscár Ánton and councillor Doris Courcelles. Later that evening, the concept of the peña was introduced to an amused mayor José Chulvi during the traditional singing to the images of Sant Joan around the streets of the historic centre and it was not unusual to hear a cheery call from the head of the council during the rest of the festivities. Other peñas were curious about this new group of "guiris", some extended invitations to join them for dinners, late-night parties or just a simple drink. Overall, the extranjeros were accepted as a natural progression, helping to provide an small element of interaction and a focal point foreign residents in Jávea who want to learn more about the town's traditions and customs.

During the intervening twelve months between the Sant Joan celebrations, the members of Penya Com a Gambes have working hard to take the group to the next level. They have come together to enjoy the other fiestas of Jávea as well as trips further afield, including a fantastic evening together at Benidorm Palace. They enjoyed a wonderful Christmas Dinner and Dance at Restaurante El Elefante and competed against each other in competitions, such as the ten-pin bowling tournament to find the best bowler in the peña. And now, for 2013, they have reached a new milestone with the opening of their own casal - essentially an HQ in which they will base themselves during the fiestas - and they were honoured that Vanessa Torres, the first maid of honour for Fogueres 2013, took time out to help them mark the event with an official opening night, attended by friends and honourable guests.

This evening, the celebrations will really kick off with a official announcement - the Pregón - of the start of festivities and Penya Com a Gambes will be there in their red shirts, joining with the other peñas to be involved in one of the town's biggest fiestas. Integration has always been an important key to succeed in a foreign environment and the sun-kissed prawns hope that they will be able to help build a special relationship between the foreign community and the traditions of Jávea.

Now where is the Alkaseltzer?

javeamigos.com | PENYA COM A GAMBES

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