The worst-kept secret in Oregon? Salem is a boring town. I like to say that Salem is the amorphous undistinguished center between four interesting one-hour-away compass points. North is Portland. South is Eugene. West is the Pacific Ocean. East is the Cascades. And in between all these wonders? Blahville USA.
Except for a few times a year. July's Salem Art Fair & Festival and June's World Beat Festival are exceptions to the boring rule in the town we call, yawn..., Home. Laurel and I went to the World Beat Festival at Riverfront Park last evening, and I returned for another hit of funness this afternoon. Here are some images of what we experienced.
Our first stop was for some vegetarian dal and rice, which I ate while enjoying the Sisters of the Desert Moon belly dancers. I will admit that I enjoyed watching some of the dancers more than others, but I also heartily admire the grace, talent, and moxie of every woman who shares this beautiful art. I love belly dancing, and not only for the obvious reasons. There's something mysteriously mystical about it that attracts me aside from the physical. However, I draw the line at male belly dancers. Once I saw a man do his thing, complete with the tiny cymbals and flowing Middle Eastern garb. I'm still trying to erase that memory from my mind. Call me sexist, but I say belly dancing is for women. Period.
For a finale all the dancers, young and younger, entertained us to the tune of (if I have the name right), "Walk Like An Egyptian." I loved the purple outfit. Some women were lured out of the audience and joined the Sisters of the Desert Moon. Being dancing impaired, I applauded their courage. I was prepared to cling to the ground with clenched fingers and cry like a baby if there was any attempt to draw a gray-haired bearded geezer into the dancing circle.
During much of the time I was admiring the belly dancers, Laurel was absorbed in admiring dichroic glass jewelery. I left her in almost this exact position, watched the dancing for about ten minutes, and then got worried that Laurel had finished her jewelery browsing and was waiting at the booth with nothing to do. Yeah, right. When I got back she was still immersed in the never-ending fascination of dichroic glass. She got a nice ring and two pairs of earrings for a quite reasonable $50. We then headed to another booth where my capture captured a familiar Husband Sight.
We had never seen Salem's kind of famous Eco Earth globe close up. It is at the end of Riverfront Park, overlooking the fabulously gorgeous Willamette River slough and wetlands/fields, and the fabulously ugly Boise Cascade paper plant that should have been torn down decades ago instead of clogging up the riverfront with industrial unchic buildings. The Eco Earth globe is made of tiles that cover an old metal sphere that was used for something or other in the old days of paper processing. The names of contributors to the project encircle the globe. Sadly, we are not among them. I don't know why. I love to see my name in print, or engraved, so this was a missed opportunity to both support a good cause and stroke my ego.
Going back on my own this afternoon, I couldn't pass up a martial arts demonstration by the nattily attired members of the Ireland ATA Blackbelt Academy in Keizer. The kid on the left is five, I believe; the others breaking (rebreakable) boards just a bit older. They had impressive technigue and discipline for children that age. I started my karate training at age 40. Lucky them to begin just a tad sooner.
After the Tae Kwon Do demonstation I ran into a friend, Rob. He was with a woman who was holding the leash of an insanely large Great Dane. Well, I guess all Great Danes are insanely large, but this one made me want to put a saddle on it and ride off into the sunset to find a herd of cats. I made Rob get down on his knees to make the dog look larger. But that was hardly necessary, as you can see from this Yin and Yang photo of another canine that came up to greet its more massive companion.
My day ended with a pilgrimage to the Daryl Thomas West African Drumming and Dancing Workshop. Daryl had recruited a large group of enthusiastic dancers who twirled and whirled to the hypnotic African beat for a lot longer than I could have imagined, given the heat of the afternoon. Here they are near the end of the dancing, in an appropriately worshipful-looking World Beat Festival pose. I had a great time. All you Portlanders should come down next year and see how much fun Salem can be...on two weekends a year (don't miss the Salem Art Fair July 16-18 either).