The Best Travel Experiences are Free... and Random: An Unexpected Rave!
Random Street Party: Gay Pride in Nice
Richard and I arrive at our hotel in Nice on a Saturday afternoon, and following a few wrong turnings in the old town, we find our hotel in a quiet street a few blocks from Place Garibaldi and dump our stuff so we can go out for something delicious to eat in the late afternoon sun. Walking around on the way into the old town we spy a fair few bunches of rainbow balloons, and there seems to be a lot of merriment - more than usual anyway.
"I think it's something to do with gay pride you know," I say to Richard as we pass by a particularly colourful rabble of men and balloons on our way to yet another restaurant to assess the menu.
"What makes you say that?" He asks, clearly confused at my sudden judgement.
"All the rainbow balloons! The gay pride flag is a rainbow."
"No - well I haven't seen any gay.... oh!" Richard stops mid sentence and grins. Right on cue a truckload of transvestites and buff men wearing wigs rolls past, followed by three others, and a lot of dance music...
We giggle at the classic timing of Richard's reaction to this encounter, take some photos, and take our al fresco seats at the restaurant we have finally chosen.
Much later when the shops are closing and the bars are opening, we amble sleepily through the North end of the old town, through Place Garabaldi, and back towards our hotel - our stomachs are full and we don't expect the random thumping music and throngs of people we have stumbled upon in Rue Bonaparte outside our hotel. Now we know where all those men were headed, and there's more! There are people everywhere, from excited children to big muscly men dressed in sequin dresses.
We decide to grab a drink seeing as its too packed to make our way to the hotel anyway, and it looks like fun. The dance and pop music they're playing has all sorts of people bopping along and we make our way to the front where the DJ is playing.
Gradually the place fills up more and before we know it, the hot and still air is pounding with dance beats, people raving everywhere under the flashing colourful lights. We're outside in the middle of the street and if it wasn't for the trees dotted around and the grubby facades of the historic buildings, I wouldn't know.
The dancing goes on and even the most surly of men seem to be having a whale of a time! There is such a diverse range of people that I can't stop myself peering around every waving arm and bouncing head to get a good look. Every other few songs are totally foreign to us, but when we recognise them from our travels, we go mad - jumping and wiggling far more than we would have at home. Some local lads catch on when we start to do 'the shuffle' and it turns into a sort of uber dance fest, people pressing in on all sides.
At the front by the DJ box is a random artist - painting huge animal murals on a giant canvas. It's all so surreal I begin to wonder if I haven't fallen asleep in the hotel room and started to dream along with the thumping music.
Way past our bedtime in the small hours, we clamber into bed and the room is surprisingly quiet considering what's going on outside and around the corner. I lay down and think to myself that the best parties are sometimes the ones you're not expecting...
If you are looking for a hotel in Nice I would recommend the Ibis Styles - it was so quiet despite all the commotion still going on outside even after we went to bed. The beds were comfy, and the price was very reasonable considering it was Nice (an expensive city!)
Text and Images Copyright © Lise Griffiths, 2013
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Best random travel experience, Nice, Cote d'Azur