Sunday, June 19, 2011

Combat de Doudou 2011

Today (this has been sitting in the drafts for a while) was the Ducasse de Mons, a popular festival which is spread over a week. Two of the main events are a 'BIG' procession through the streets of Mons followed by the Lumecon, also know as the Combat de Doudou.

My buddy Dave and I decided that we didn't want to miss out on this year's Combat which is a well choreographed spectacle of several characters, including Saint George representing good and the Dragon representing evil.

(The characters from a t-shirt produce by a local radio station)

Before it kicked off, one person described it as a "Fete de Passion" for Mons. And that it was..... organized chaos. So there we were, squished, cramped, stepped on, elbowed, you name it.

(That's me 2-back from the rope)

Although it sounds rough, it wasn't that bad. Everyone looks out for each other so if one falls or gets hurt, the crowd does take care of them. The main prize of the event is to grab the tail of the dragon when it is launched into the crowd and pull a good tuft of horse hair off as a token of good luck. I missed out but Dave grab more than enough for the two of us when the tail landed just beside him, careening into a bloke's head who dropped like a sack of flour..

So all said and done, we watched the procession, had a couple of beers, fought the dragon, had a couple of coffees, a few more beers and a good portion of chips.

Here's a link which shows the atmosphere of the precession and the Combat de Doudou. So... after watching it... if you want to join us for next years Combat de Doudou, give us a call. Open door for family & friends, bed & breakfast included.

When I got home, I found out that Siobhan and the boys came to check it out after they went to a new wooded area. We didn't see each other but at one point, when comparing pictures, we couldn't have been more than 15-20 feet away from each other. By the sound of it, they enjoyed the atmosphere of the Grand Place as well.

Siobhan- I had planned not to go, having been told by many people that it's really crowded and that they wouldn't take their kids there. So we went to explore in some woods we hadn't been to before instead. But on the way back home we had to go around a bit of the inner ring road in Mons and there were hundreds of people walking towards the Grand Place. I could feel the excited atmosphere from the car and decided we couldn't NOT go to the festival. This is after all Mons's biggest and most important festival day of the year and I figured we shouldn't miss it. We squeezed the car into a tiny space between a tree and a bin (there were cars parked in every spare inch of space) and walked into town with Tadhg in the buggy. Taking the buggy turned out to be a good idea because when we got stuck in the crowd the buggy actually gave us some breathing room and kept Tadhg safe from all the people. We stood in a spot with a good view of the big screen showing live footage of the proceedings, but didn't actually see anything else. In fact we didn't see the screen very well either- there are a lot of very tall Belgian men out there and I think half of them stood between as and the screen- and they also had umbrellas which were put up and taken down twice for passing rain showers. It didn't matter though, the atmosphere was super. Not that I understood much, particularly the religious aspect of the day- Belgium does all this odd religious celebratory stuff really well. Weird costumes and beer. Lots of beer. And the horse hairs? What's that all about? But as men (mostly), with tattered and torn t-shirts and soaked in sweat, came away from the Combat they handed out spare dragon tail hairs to people further back- the boys were handed about 10 each by different people. I think, that by the end of it all, most people in the that square probably had a dragon hair to take home to ensure good luck for the following year. So strange and wonderful but I love the fact that they love it. Watch out for notes on the Ommegang coming soon.

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