The Best Night Ever!

A few weeks ago we went to something called Vendimia. I’ve told you about it before, it’s the festival that celebrates the fruit harvest. It pays special attention to the grapes, because grapes=wine and Mendoza’s industries rely en el vino. But more than that Vendimia celebrates the culture of Mendoza and of Argentina. From it’s history to its dances. We went to the first repetition of the Primary Act of the National Festival of the Vendimia. The Primary Act is the big show that closes out Vendimia, it’s held here:

IMG_1668

Teatro Griego Frank Romero Day

This amphitheater holds almost 20,000 people at one time. The Primary Act (also just know as Vendimia) is so popular that they have The Primary Act and then three repetitions. By my count that makes about 80,000 people who attend the Primary Act, and thats not including the families who climb the hills and trees around the theater so they can watch Vendimia.

The theater during Vendimia

The theater during Vendimia

This is the theater during the performance, probably about 1/10th of the total theater. I know that I will never be able to describe this night, this performance, the energy, my feelings, everything sufficiently for you to really understand what happened, but I’m going to try.

So what Vendimia really is is a show. An annual, broadway caliber performance with a bigger cast, on a bigger stage, and a bigger crowd that is more into it than any audience I’ve ever seen. Every year someone, usually an Argentine, often from Mendoza, writes the show for Vendimia. It’s different every year. It tells the story of the harvest and the history of Mendoza through song and dance.

I cannot describe it. I did not breath properly for large chunks of the performance, so enthralled was I by the show, so into the moment. My breath caught in my chest. Literally. My cheeks hurt from smiling. My eyes were dry from not blinking. I could feel the music, literally, in my chest and the energy of the crowd was infectious. It was the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced.

Part of the cast in traditional dress, interpreting San Martin's preparations to cross the Andes for the first time in known history.

Part of the cast in traditional dress, interpreting San Martin’s preparations to cross the Andes for the first time in known history.

After the show is written someone else choreographs the show, using, by my estimation, more than 500 different performers. Then someone builds the most insane set I’ve ever seen!

The biggest, craziest set ever. Note the lighting rig had to held up by a crane.

The biggest, craziest set ever. Note the lighting rig had to held up by a crane.

This show had it all:

People on stilts acting as puppeteers.

People on stilts acting as puppeteers.

All of the music was live, they had acrobats doing flips, there was a water feature.

So colorful. So amazing.

So colorful. So amazing.

One thing that really added to this night of wonders were the fireworks. They used them like most people use music: to punctuate parts of the show- to accentuate what the performers were doing on stage. Now I’m a Kansas girl, I’ve been playing with big fireworks for most of my life. People who know me know I’m a pyro-maniac. I am not easily impressed by big fireworks shows, but, beyond the fireworks during the performance, the fireworks after the show ended were hands down the best display I’ve ever seen. I later found out that, apparently, Mendoza exports a lot of fireworks around the world. Who would’ve thought.

Fireworks over the stage.

Fireworks over the stage.

Now they didn’t give me the same rush that I get when it’s the 4th of July and I’m in Kansas with my family playing Pass the Candle or setting off my own big fireworks with my cousins and uncles, but what does? As far as fireworks for watching, they were amazing.

I want so badly to share this with my family and close friends. I wanted them to be there with me. I’ve found myself often wishing for that during my time abroad. But I’m so grateful that I get to have these experiences and make new friends here, and that one day I can come back with my family and friends and be with them as experience these amazing moments.

I will come back. I will take everyone who will come with me to see this. To experience this. It doesn’t matter if you don’t speak spanish. Everyone needs to experience this. If not in Mendoza, Argentina at the Primary Act of Vendimia, then I hope you get to experience it somewhere or that you already have.

Note: If you want to watch the Vendimia performance to try to understand (even though it is not the same when you aren’t there in person) here is the youtube link. The fun stuff starts around 15 minutes. “https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rOaOF10KGwk”

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