Glamour in Glass: The Gilles parade

Around Europe, various towns have their own special regional festival. One of the best known is that of the town of Binché, where much of the action of Glamour in Glass takes place. In fact, it’s one of the reasons that I picked Binché as a scenic location.

They have a multiple day festival on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday.  The piece that caught my attention was the Gilles parade. You might have noticed that I fit a historic shadow puppet show into Shades of Milk and Honey  by turning it into a glamour performance.

In Glamour in Glass, I took the traditional Gilles festival and added a version of parade puppets, made with glamour.

The normally quiet village was filled with people walking toward the centre of town. Banners hung from windows in brilliant reds and yellows, with occasional tricolours marking a supporter of the Bonapartes.

As they neared the centre of town, Jane began to hear music of a jolly bouncing sort. They rounded a corner and the cross street at the end was lined with people, all staring to their right. Anne- Marie caught hold of Jane’s hand and pulled her through the crowd to the front row.

Marching toward them came row upon row of men dressed in nearly identical costumes, bright yellow shirts and pantaloons, striped with red and green. Each man had an enormous collar of lace, and a padded hump and belly. They all wore wax masks with spectacles and curling moustaches.

Most remarkable though, were the dragons that hung in the air above them. The dragons themselves were simple folk constructions, rendered with broad strokes of glamour. What astonished Jane was that the dragons travelled with the parade of men.

She let her vision dissolve into the ether, focusing first on the Gilles, in an attempt to understand how they were managing the folds while marching. Upon examination, she traced the threads governing the dragons to the women who lined the street. They passed the folds one to the next, so that no woman had to maintain the folds for more than a minute or so.

You can go to Binché today and enjoy their festival, but don’t look for the dragons. I made those up.

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