Visit A Band Club
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The towns and villages of Malta and Gozo are replete with all kinds of clubs. You have the inevitable two rival political clubs - red vs blue - in almost every prominent public square.
They compete for members and custom in the same village or town with the local band clubs and some others (football, regatta, bocci etc), but it is the traditional band club that has the longest history and the most to offer.
Some of them have been training young men and women in the art of playing musical instruments since way back in the 19th Century, so going into one of these clubs is a total cultural and historical experience in itself.
As you enter you will probably be met with a few stares, but don't panic. It will be just idle curiosity as to why you, a visitor, has chosen the club rather than some fancy bar or restaurant in the vicinity.
They know that here you are going to be served food and drink the way THEY get it. That means home-made food and nibbles to go with the beer, the black coffee and the tea-with-milk-in-tall-glasses!
The initial awe will soon turn into a typical Maltese welcome where they ask you about your favourite football team, throw at you some good-spirited banter in bits of Maltese and English and then proudly guide you to the club's treasure trove: the elaborately furnished committee room.
A huge splatter of silver greets you as you go in, probably followed by a secretary or an old-timer who remembers some English prince or princess who last visited the club.
On display are the countless silver trophies awarded to the club over the many decades of its existence. You will also see the much loved and much cared for instruments stored away behind glass and surrounded by yellowing mounds of music sheets. It is a socio-cultural haven out of which you can only escape if you offer a really good excuse.
They want you to stay more and to see more. You want to stay but obviously cannot. Next year, perhaps, you all agree, and it's back to smiles and hand-shakes.....Every town and village has at least one bandclub so all you need to do is ask any local where they can be found. They will be only too happy to point you towards their favourite.
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