Elvis in his Benidorm period

Elvis Por Favor! Every year swarms of Elvis impersonators head to Benidorm, one of the cheesiest resorts of the Costa Blanca. Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide editor Andreina Cordani investigates the local Elvi.

I’m sitting in the sun, sipping some cheap sangria, surrounded by dozens of Elvi. There’s an Elvis by the pool, another one at the bar – nearby, 1960s Elvis chats with 1950s Elvis while a short distance away Vegas Elvis is practising his lip curl. My friends and I decide the collective noun for Elvis is “an U-huh of Elvi” and there sure are plenty on offer today. This is the opening ceremony of the annual Benidorm Elvis Fiesta (motto: “Elvis Por Favor”), a three-day extravaganza of wall-to-wall Elvis related entertainment, held in possibly the cheesiest resort in the Costa Del Sol.

To be honest I feel like a bit of an imposter. His songs are pretty danceable, but I’ve never been a card-carrying, badge-wearing, tattoo-on-my-bum fan – I just came along because my friend loves all things Elvis, and she convinced me it would be a laugh. But then as the first performers take to the stage, I start smiling – and I don’t stop for the next three days.

Because now I get it – there is something about The Man from Memphis that is just easy to like (even if he’s actually from Wales). The Elvi who looked a bit silly or surreal by the pool step on stage, flash you that practised smile and you just go “ooh”. Not to mention the people – Elvis fans are a brilliant laugh.

Look but don’t touch, goddess

The festival is based around the huge Hotel Melia and during the day the bars nearby play host to scores of Elvis impersonators – there’s other King-related fun on offer too (Elvis Family Fortunes, Elvis Gospel) But we didn’t go to all of these, preferring to soak up some Spanish sunshine during the day. Benidorm itself has a terrible reputation as Spain’s Little England. In part this was justified – Union Jacks and chip shops abound. But the beach is clean and sandy, the accommodation and drinks are cheap, and there are some good tapas bars to discover too, especially in the old town.

In the evenings we made our way back to the Melia for the “Las Vegas Floorshow”. Each night would feature four or so Elvi, starting with Blue Suede Shoes Elvis, through GI Elvis, to 1968 Comeback Special Elvis (I had no idea what this was, but it involved a drop dead gorgeous guy in skintight leather trousers, so I got on board pretty quickly.) The grand finale is reserved for the spangled white jumpsuit Elvis we all know and love. Cue arm-waving quasi-hysteria from the crowd.

Highlight of the weekend was champion Elvis impersonator Pete Storm but I also have a soft spot for Paul Larcombe, an ex serviceman who discovered his Elvine talents just a few years ago and is having a whale of a time.

One thing the Elvis festival is not, is cool. It’s not got to the ironic post-modern stage yet, it’s full of fans who honest-to-goodness just love Elvis, and performers who love to entertain. What more could you want from a music festival?

For more details on the next Elvis Fiesta go to http://www.elvisinbenidorm.com.

Images: Andreina Cordani

 

 

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