Who would have thought that Carvoeiro, once a sleepy little fishing village, would become Algarve Party Central? Well, that is exactly what has happened for one night a year since 2014 when Carvoeiro started hosting the summer solstice party known as Black & White Night. The event is organised by Ibérica Eventos & Espectáculos and the Lagoa town council and has grown from 10,000 party-goers in 2014 to 20,000 in 2015. The main roads in to and out of the town are closed to traffic, and on two of these roads stages are erected and restaurants and bars are able to extend their seating area into the road. It means that there is something happening all over the centre of the village, not just in the square by the beach.
We were lucky enough to be in Carvoeiro for the 2015 Black & White Night. The festivities got underway at 8.30pm when a pair of horses, one black and one white, and their stylish riders, walked down the Estrada do Farol. We watched the horses pass by from our table outside one of the restaurants on the hill. We had wisely booked a table the day before as, even with the extra seating, restaurants were struggling to cope with the deluge of people into the town. Be prepared to make new friends during the night, as seats at the tables outside the bars in the town centre are at a premium and we found ourselves sharing a table with complete strangers. We are normally quite reserved people, but the party atmosphere was infectious and by the end of the night we were happily chatting to our table companions.
Following the dress code, we were dressed in black and white, although we didn’t go as far as to dress in this year’s theme of ‘Burlesque’. From the start, the town was buzzing with activity and with crowds of people everywhere. As we walked down the Estrada do Farol we were drawn to the Algarve Jazz Orchestra on the large stage near the bottom of the hill playing big band standards. I noticed that next to the stage was a large screen and later found out that the film The Jazz Singer was going to be shown. I love the idea of watching a film al fresco on a warm summer night, but I wondered how the dialogue was going to be heard over the noise from the rest of the town. This turned out not to be a problem, as it was the 1927 version of the film with title cards, that was being shown, although I secretly would have preferred to see the Neil Diamond version! The entertainment was well organised, and when something finished on one stage, something else started on another. The entertainment on the stages on Estrada do Farol and Rua do Barranco started much earlier than the entertainment in the square, which meant that the businesses on these roads were able to share in the success of the night. There was an eclectic mix of entertainers, all connected in some way to the theme of burlesque. In the tradition of American burlesque shows from the 1930s, striptease acts in various guises featured heavily on three of the four stages, including a Gypsy Rose Lee-style dancer with feather fans called Lady Myosotis and a male striptease act called Senhor Sardinha Boylesque. I do question whether this type of act is appropriate at an event like this, and as there were so many children about the town during the night, I’m sure some parents had some awkward questions to answer! Live music also featured throughout the night and, as well as the Algarve Jazz Orchestra, tango music was performed by Mariel Martinez & La Porteña and on the stage in the town square, Jasmina Jolie & Cosmopolitan Cabaret performed a selection of torch songs made famous by singers such as Édith Piaf and Billie Holiday.
No party is complete without a DJ and there were three at this party, playing music from different eras, which appealed to the wide-ranging demographic. People were literally dancing in the streets. DJ Charlie Mysterio played music from the 1920s to the 1950s, then a Carvoeiro favourite, DJ Alexandre Ramos, played music from the 1960s to the 1990s and, finally, once all the older people had made their way back home, DJ Charlie Spot set up his own stage on top of the toilet block overlooking the beach and thousands of people made their way onto the beach to dance until 3am, when the party officially ended, to hits from 2000 to the present day. It was quite a sight to see so many people crowded on to the compact town beach.
It was a perfect night. The air was hot and the sky was clear, with a pretty crescent moon. Despite the large number of people and an increased police presence we witnessed no trouble. The clean-up operation, after the party ended in the early hours, was incredibly efficient. There was no evidence that anything out of the ordinary had happened, except for a few bleary-eyed waiters the next day!