by Igor Salutregi Gabiola
Basque Country and Scotland are quite similar, and this is not only for the weather. It is said that people of both countries are close and kind, and they are pervaded with feelings of freedom.
The month of August came again, and with it, the Festival Fringe. The largest arts festival in the world colors every single corner of Edinburgh City, and so did the Ikurriña (Basque flag) this year. A group of almost twenty people, dressed in txapelas (Basque hats), abarkas (Basque leather sandals), txapins (thick woolen socks), txistus (3 holes’ pipe) and many other typical costumes, danced and played representative Basque performances. In Royal Mile, in Grassmarket, and in many other pubs Basque music jingled and jingled, playing songs that could have been perfectly created in the lands of Scotland.
The young Basque group had arranged some official performances in different spots, at different times. But as we are in Edinburgh the rain wanted play the key strings and forced some of the events to cancellation, although this fact did not mean that Basque rhythms stopped. As a remarkable beer-drinking place, Edinburgh shelters more than 700 pubs, and those cozy and warm spaces allowed Basque music to keep on rolling.
Basque people not only ‘conquered’ the Fringe visitors’ ears but physical locations too. The Captain’s Bar off College Street was the main witness of this very achievement, and also was a target. After two days playing there, the last day of the Basque group in this city ended with Ikurriña replacing an old Scottish flag on the roof of the bar. The owners of the pub allowed for it, of course, and their faces expressed that they were not only proud but also connected to the general vibe. Everybody there was happy, especially the native part of the audience that could dance a kind of music that reminded them of the Scottish styles. This night will always endure in the rest of the Fringe editions.
And…! Now what? Will this story be a single fact, or will it be part of an oncoming cultural exchange? Perhaps it would be a great idea to have a bar conquered in the Basque lands by Scottish flags, to make the weather or the inhabitants’ personality not the only similar things Basque Country and Scotland have in common.