30 April 2006

Procession of the Species

DancersImage via WikipediaWhat could possibly compel a grown man to dress up as a squirrel and cavort through the streets of his city? Or a very pregnant woman to bare her belly and dance up the avenue for a throng of gawking onlookers?

Any other time of year, the answer would be general nuttiness. But yesterday marked Olympia's annual spring coming-out party, the Procession of the Species. Just as this earth-centered people's parade got underway, gloomy gray skies gave way to sun, a meteorological blessing for the assembled revelers, dressed as elements and critters.

A murder of crows drummed West African rhythms. Hyperactive gorillas rode the backs of inert humans. a red fox lumbered by half on stilts. Turtles scooted past on skateboards. Dolphins and whales on sticks lept through waving blue fabric waters.

And at the end, an undulating glow of red and orange bounced up the street to the accompaniment of thunderous drumming. The 45 synchronized dancers of Samba Olywa and their 35-strong batteria of drummers brought a moment of Carnaval to the Pacific Northwest, one that lasted through the parade and long afterward, as a knot of drummers and dancers congealed in the center of 5th Avenue by Capitol Lake, and played like their hearts would otherwise break. We stayed for a while, then walked out of downtown, the thunderous drumming continuing behind us.

[mp3] rhythms from Samba Olywa
Samba Olywa website: www.sambaolywa.com
Procession website: www.procession.org

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