The drums are almost tribal, there’s a frantic, excited beat to them that invades the body and gives the heart a little squeeze.
It fills me with a sense that I’m about to enter Neverland; a seductive fantastical land inhabited by exotic creatures. The thought has barely entered my head when a huge, towering shape detaches itself from the shadows.
The creature must be nearly seven feet tall. It leans forward into the light and for the first time I see its features. Finger-long eyelashes flutter slowly, it purses scarlet lips that would have a vampire drooling and blows a pantomime kiss in my direction before theatrically throwing a feather boa across one shoulder, twirling on a ridiculous pair of stilettos and sashaying back into the darkness.
It’s my warm welcome to the Mascarita Ponte Tacón.
The Mascarita Ponte Tacón, known in English as the High Heels Drag Marathon, in Puerto de la Cruz has become one of the highlights of Tenerife’s carnival calender. It takes place on the Friday evening before Puerto de la Cruz holds its Coso Apoteosis (closing parade) and is not a carnival event for the easily shocked.
Anyone planning on attending should leave all political correctness sensitivities at the town’s borders.
The concept is basically that guys dress as girls (usually but not always), slip on their high heels (they have to be over a specified height) and compete in a race through the streets where contestants not only have to tackle cobbles in their heels, they also have to negotiate obstacles. It’s a bit like a shocking version of Juex Sans Frontiéres.
The reality is somewhat different. Plaza del Charco, the hub of the town, becomes the setting for the biggest tranny party going. Enthusiastic cross-dressers range from newbies whose attempts at putting on a bit of slap leave them looking like cheap tarts to seasoned vets whose make-up application has them looking like… err.. high class tarts.
There is lots of flesh, fishnets and fake breasts on show. Each year, costumes become more elaborate. For every porn granny wearing a basque and suspenders or female Guardia Civil officers waving penises instead of truncheons, there are giant pizzas and paellas, Barbies in boxes, realistic N’avi, glamorous chess pieces, synchronised swimmers, mermaids and a variety of household appliances.
Then there are those who simply want to shock – this year the prize went to a trio of sexy nurses whose ‘model’ patient kept getting an erection as he was wheeled through the crowd in his stretcher.
The more shocking it is, the more the onlookers scream with glee, especially the town’s diminutive abuelas.
Although it’s supposed to be a race, it’s become more of a parade of costumes. The glamorous contestants spend hours preening, parading and drinking beer (yes, you heard right – high heels wearers are plied with free beer before the race) before teetering along the urban racetrack to the start of the course. The actual race can start anytime between 11pm and 1am depending on how many contestants there are (300+) and how much show-boating they do en route to the starting line.
If you watch the theatrics in the plaza, you run the risk of missing out on the race itself as people queue for hours to keep a prime position. It’s a judgement call. We’ve watched the race and we’ve watched the registration, which is when you get the best view of all the costumes, and tend to stick with the latter.
But I have a cunning plan how I can get the best views of both – and that is to actually enter the High Heels Drag Marathon.
All I need is three other people who are willing to roll on the fishnets, slip on a pair of killer heels, flash their fake boobs and run the risk of breaking an ankle or at very least a glossy, painted fingernail.
Who’s up for it?
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites plus lots of other things. Follow Jack on Google+