Colonia San Antonio, photography, San Miguel de Allende, Writings

Missed the parade, caught the warmup

After a long night of parading, doing battle with the Devil, blowing off fireworks, celebrating the city’s namesake, and just all-around old-fashioned shoulder-rubbing with neighbors — what do San Miguelenses like to do the next day?

Parade some more.

Of course.

That’s why on Sunday morning, the tribes and clans were gathering on Calle El Cardo for a joyous romp down the Ancha and through Centro before ending up in front of the Parroquia San Miguel Arcangel. I could hear the drummers from our home one block away.

I think the only thing as exciting as the parade itself is watching the paraders prepare.

All up and down El Cardo, people were getting into their regalia. Some wore Indian dress, some wore historic revolutionary uniforms, some were dressed like Munchkins. Two horse-drawn carriages carried their precious passengers — Miss San Miguel de Allende and La Reina del Campesino (our agrarian queen).

The two beautiful young ladies sat patiently, scrolling through their iPhones, awaiting their turn in the que. Both set their phones aside and gave their all when asked if a picture could be taken.

Equally patient was the woman on the cotton-candy cloud on the back of a flatbed truck who was dressed as the heroic warrior Arcangel Michael. Two designers fussed and pampered over her costume and those of two young and adorable children at her feet.

At the intersection with the Ancha, rows of mojigangas were lined up, awaiting the energetic dancers who would fill them with life so they could swoop and twirl and sway down the broad avenue to the delight — and sometimes terror — of children and adults.

Marching groups practiced dances and shared gossip and helped each other into Indian headdresses and warrior makeup. One young man in a brightly colored costume had a 12-foot-long sash to wear around his waist. As a friend held one end of the sash up, the young man twirled toward him like a spinning top. The sash wrapped expertly around his waist. He’d done this before.

Bands and mariachis practiced songs, warmed up their instruments, and fussed with their apparel. Looking good is part of the performance when you are in a San Miguel band. Nobody looked classier than the gold-lame-jacketed Bando Armonia.

Three indigenous musicians built paper fires under their metal drums, creating heat to — what? — expand their sound? Loosen up the drumheads? Fill the drums like hot air balloons so they would be lighter to carry?

People were dashing about like it was opening night backstage with a million small tasks to check off before the curtain rose. There was a simultaneous sense of urgency, glee, anticipation, and camaraderie all up and down the street.

Soon enough, the rockets would soar and explode and everyone would settle into formation and begin the long, linear, joy-filled dance that is so much a part of the character of San Miguel.

A month in San Miguel without a parade or a religious procession is no month at all.

And this weekend, there must have been a half-dozen parades at all hours of day and night.

Life is truly back in San Miguel de Allende.

More photos! (Click to enlarge.)


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