Our subject for the day is…..
Holiday hotel entertainment!
The first holiday I can recall was that of summer 1957 which was spent with my parents and my 18 month old sister at that era’s equivalent of the European package holiday hotel – Butlins Holiday Camp at Clacton-on-sea, Essex.
I was 4 years old at the time and remember three things about it quite clearly; riding on a donkey, making sandcastles and, most relevant to my theme, going to a big spectacular show one evening.
Obviously the fine details didn’t register but it leaves an impression with me to this day of having been big, loud and colourful with lots of dancing and a general feeling of FUN!
Incidentally, I went back to that holiday camp 16 years later but by then the weekly spectacular (which was still put on) held no interest to me at all. By age 20 I wanted rock bands not “The Billy Cotton Band Show! If you don’t know what THAT was – ask your parents or grandparents. I was also, it should be mentioned, full of simmering resentment at being TOLD what time my breakfast sitting was – something that hadn’t bothered 4 year old me.
Those Butlins shows were put on by the famous “Redcoats”, amateurs all, with (I presume) a small core (or corps) of professional dancers.
And when, many years later, Faith and I started taking our daughters abroad we found that the “Redcoat principle” had been jazzed up and Europeanised by the holiday companies into the concept of “Animation Teams” (“Animacion” in Spanish) in each and every hotel complex.
This is fine by me as long as they are only there to provide entertainment to any children present.
Today (Wednesday 6th March), however, as we lay on the sunbeds near the pool trying to make up our 24 hour deficit on the tanning balance sheet the tannoy has been making its multilingual appeals for everyone to join in something called “Aqua-gymnastics” which will be taking place shortly.
This is, in fact, water aerobics (although whether drowning can technically be considered an aerobic activity is in some doubt) and is currently taking place in the pool in front of us. There are about 30 people (mostly women and mostly Germans – they do SO love doing regimented activities, don’t they?) leaping about in waist deep water under the direction of an impossibly fit Spanish bird with big tits and no bum who leaps around the poolside performing the movements that her victims have to copy. She is wearing a very tight t-shirt with the word “Animacion” on it – which seems fairly accurate!
What’s that? Me? Join in?
Don’t be silly! I’m on holiday – if I want to do exercise I’ll go back to work!
At some places we have visited over the years these Animation Teams have, in the old Redcoat tradition, presented their own show to the residents once a week but these are universally known to be so awful that we normally arrange to go out that night!
The rest of the time the hotels use a “pool” of acts who no doubt work their way around the entire island during the tourist season (which is 365 days a year in the Canaries).
And it was last night’s “turn” that caused me to write all of the above.
It could hardly be called a group – there was a young blonde girl whose nationality we could only determine as being “Northern European” and a man whose accent told us was probably German. She sang and operated a tambourine when required while he stood at a synthesizer-style keyboard, sang any male parts and pressed the buttons on the gear that provided all of their pre-recorded backing tracks.
Their repertoire was supposed to be 1980s and earlier pop stuff which should have been absolutely ideal for the audience – Faith and I are probably close to the average resident’s age as there are very few young couples or families with school age children present this week.
They were AWFUL!
They managed to completely mangle the lyrics of The Monkees’, “I’m a Believer” and Jim Reeves’ “He’ll have to Go” both of which have been around for long enough for anyone singing in a foreign (to them)tongue to have no excuse for getting them wrong!
There then followed a few numbers in Spanish and German which I couldn’t comment on as I don’t know what they were meant to sound like.
The final straw was when I came back from a visit to the Little Boys’ Room (believe me I wouldn’t have lasted as long as I did without a litre of San Miguel beer and a Mojito or two) to find them absolutely murdering Brotherhood of Man’s “Save your Kisses for Me”! This takes some doing as the song was a dreadful piece of slushy, sentimental Euro-crap when BoM did it in the first place – but these guys managed to make it WORSE!
That did it! With hardly a word needed Faith and I finished our drinks, left the hotel and set out to find a nice quiet bar in Playa Blanca.
I now wish that I had passed on to the wider audience the words I said to Faith when I began to realise just how bad they were:
“For God’s sake don’t clap, you’ll only encourage them!”