It is a general opinion that a fiesta cannot be so without its peñas and the port fiesta is no exception. There are more than a dozen well-established groups dedicated to taking great advantage of the festivities of Loreto and many of them offer their services to the fiesta commission to organise many of the acts during the celebrations.
They have names which will become familiar to regulars: Penya La Bufa recently celebrated its 40th anniversary and is possibly the best known group in the port, taking an active part in the community not only during the fiesta but also throughout the year. Other familiar names are Penya Els Golossos, Penya La Mamera, Penya La UCA, Penya La Penyeta Roja, Penya La Porcá, Penya Les Marineres, Penya Liatrix and Penya Pili La Banya. If you don’t know them yet, you will do eventually.
There is a special day put aside in the Loreto fiesta programme especially for the penyas. The format changes regularly but that doesn’t really matter to the penyas so long as they’re having fun. In recent years, the day has included parades, musical shows and long lunches, normally of paella or fiduea, all fuelled by a modest quantity of alcohol. But it’s never a day that feels intimidating. There’s lot of drunk people but it’s largely good-natured fun and anyone who’s clearly had enough or might be shifting towards a more aggressive mood is gently escorted away to rewind a little, either back at the casal or in a quiet corner somewhere.
The Duplex Bar just a few metres from the pebble beach is a favourite place for penyas to gather for an early evening drink. It’s very busy, music blasts from inside and you can fell the heat from dozens of sweaty bodies escaping through the doors. Needless to say, most people gather outside to enjoy a drink together. Everyone is welcome. You might feel a bit of an outsider at first but the more you get involved, the more you’ll find a hand extended in friendship and maybe even a particularly strong gin and tonic heading your way.
In the evening, the action switches to the sandy arena for the bous al mar but I feel there’s always a slightly different atmosphere when it’s penya day, one of joyful unity, everyone coming together for just a few hours to forget the woes of the world. Musicians often gather to play traditional music, a few well-known tunes that prompt people to sing, maybe even dance a little. It’s all very infectious. Once again, a familiar face might emerge from the crowd, you might start up a conversation and by the end of the night, you’re best buddies downing far too many shots of casalla together. It can happen. It does happen. And it’s a great feeling to finally feel part of the fiesta.