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WHAT TO WEAR IN PAMPLONA
Pamplona
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If there is one thing you don’t have to worry about in the fiesta it is the ‘fashion police’ basically anything goes! You will never be able to dress outrageously because if you try to do so you will just blend into to the sartorial mayhem in the streets. For example last ear I saw at least three different people dressed in a Superman outfit, one of whom was attempting to fly by Bar diving into the crowd of dancers in Bull Magowns (one of the best bars in town). Personally I always thought I cut a rather dashing figure in my kilt, however last year I felt quite non-descript as I was surrounded by 14 kilted Glasgow lads out for a stag week in Pamplona.

However there are some basic hints about what to wear and what not to wear. For a start you have to wear a red bandana around your neck, they are sold everywhere on the streets in Pamplona and everyone at the fiesta is wearing one. Even the dogs are wearing them. If you don’t buy one then you will end up constantly being hassled by street vendors hoping to make a sale.

The classic San Fermin gear is a white shirt and trousers ( white blouse and skirt for the ladies) and a red sash round the waist and of course, the red bandana and that’s you all dressed up for the Fiesta. This custom of donning the distinctive uniform for the Fiesta is neither really very old (since about the middle of the century onwards) nor in any way obligatory. While most of the locals like to wear it, some will do so only in part and others not at all.

There are two traditional items that you only ever see tourist wearing, the red beret and the "traditional footwear" of "alpargatas" (or espadrilles). The berets are generally worn by French or Aussie drunken ‘wallies’ in particular the extra large berets, this is quite convenient for the rest of us as it does give a visual warning about an approaching ‘asshole’ so you can quickly take avoiding action. The "traditional footwear" has not won much favour for the majority of people simply because they are not very practical. They look nice and homely – white peasant slippers with a red strap – but they are very impractical as they give fuck-all protection from the often wet and dirty surfaces of the streets and bars. They also provide little or no protection from broken glass and slippery surfaces. The same goes for any form of sandal, the best kind of footwear is to wear the classic sneakers or track shoes – but not your best ones- as these too will end up covered in crap by the end of the week.

The red sash is also becoming less popular, as it tends to get undone at some stage of the hectic proceedings. If you haven’t learnt to make a decent knot when you were being initiated into the fiesta you are bound to lose it while you are pissed out of your brains. However, I firmly believe that it is one of the most useful items of the Fiesta costume. You can tie things to it to stop then getting stolen or lost (e.g. a tankard) and while moving in a group through the crowds you can hold on to the end of each others sash and keep the group together. Finally if you get really drunk you can tie yourself to a friend or willing female partner.

As well as this basic gear, many people put on a kind of traditional shepherd’s smock over their white gear. Members of the different &quoteñas" all have their own distinctive-coloured smocks. If you don’t belong to any &quoteña", black is the most popular colour. You can even make your own before you get to the fiesta, I wear a rather wicked red tartan smock which announces my presence well before I get to any group. It is often handy to be able to be picked out in a crowd. One thing that you have to remember is that Pamplona gets very cold at nights, thus you do need something warmer than a t-shirt if you are going to party all night.

You don’t have to worry about buying any of this white gear before the fiesta, as they sell it very cheaply at the supermarkets on the edge of town. By the end of the week most of it will be so dirty and smelly that you can throw most of it away and buy more next year.