The Alarde

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Dances and spectators at a Japanese festival

Consider Erik Cohen's analysis of the Alarde, a public ritual in the Basque town of Fuenterrabia. The ritual "became a major tourist attraction [which was so successful that] authorities declared that it should be performed twice on the same day to accommodate the large number of visitors." The performance then became staged, and because of that "the local participants lost interest." To help restore interest "the municipal government was considering payment to people for their participation in the Alarde." . . . Payment might destroy the meaning of the ritual, or it might change or enrich the ritual by the introduction of new elements and levels of meaning. Sack 1992, 159