through the Festival the "Peñas"
seem to be the epitime of pure anarchy,
but even pure chaos needs some basic organization.
These clubs have been gradually founded
throughout the history of the Sanfermin
Festival for the purpose of providing
a basic structure for its members during
these wild days of the fiesta. Once founded,
they have gradually extended their activities
to include other events throughout the
year, mainly gastronomic and sport ones,
but without ever forgetting that their
basic and most important reason for existing
is, to celebrate the San Fermin Fiesta
WHERE YOU CAN FIND THEM
Most of the "Peñas" have
their premises in different locations along
the length of Jarauta Street (map),
which is in the heart of the old quarter of
Pamplona. This street has always been fundamental
in the celebrating of the Fiesta.
And indeed one of their basic "services"
towards the well-being of the Fiesta is precisely
here, where they open their premises to the
general public for the duration of the festival.
Each one has its own bar where you can eat
(in some of them) and drink, sing and dance,
any hour of the day or night, all through
the eight days of the Fiesta. If they close
for an hour or so, it will only be to stock
up supplies to ensure the party continues.
Strangely enough, the different clubs only
make up a membership of about five thousand
people in total. So, in that sense, you can´t
say they are truly representative of the total
population of the city. On the other hand
they are the ones who set the tone for the
Festival and in fact they take part in meetings
and committees with the Town Hall during the
year to decide on what particular events will
take place each year. They also get some financial
help from the Town Hall to help in the preparations
for the annual event.
THE ROLE OF THE PEÑAS DURING
They have a key part to play on the terraces
of the bullring during the bull-fights
where their presence is fundamental.
Here, the different clubs, each with their
distinctive dress, and seated under their
distinctive banners, are gathered together
in a loud raucous crowd which totally
dominates the atmosphere during the afternoon
They also mark the difference in the street
with the continuous din of their brass-bands
reverberating round the streets of Pamplona
day and night.
Even though there are other, more professional
bands which are paid by the Town Hall
to play music in the streets, there is
nothing to compare with the colour and
joy that the "Peñas"
create. The Fiesta would not be the same
without the musical parades of the Peñas
as they lead the crowds singing and dancing
through the streets
into all hours of the night. And in fact,
this difference, in the absence of the "Peñas",
can be noted. On the night of the sixth, the
opening day of the Festival, they don't parade
in the street.
SOME FACTS AND FIGURES
There are sixteen "Peñas"
(Social Clubs which admit a limited number
of members) in Pamplona.
They each have their own clubhouse and exist
throughout the year, mainly for the purpose
of celebrating meals together. They make up
a federation and publish a magazine. They
also have an internet
site about the peñas, where you
can find a lot of information about what do
they do not only during the Sanfermin festival,
but also the rest of the year. The oldest
one dates from 1903 - "La Unica"
and since, the others were gradually formed
thoroughout the following decades. Originally,
they were men-only clubs, but now both sexes
are members in almost all of them. (Hooray
for progress!). Sanfermin is no longer "the
last bastion of the macho" as Hemingway
once described it. And neither are the "Peñas".
Their premises have also gradually improved
in decour and comfort which just goes to show
that civilization is progressing, I suppose.