What do Vancouver, BC, Canada; Seattle; and Port Townsend, Washington have in common?
Nice people who came together to participate in my author reading/book signings of my novel Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace.
After one book reading, I pedaled on a rolling road through conifer forest to go dance in a refurbished military building. Polished wood floors gleamed welcome to the hundred dancing bare feet on the dustless floor as sunlight glowed through the tall paned windows and warmed the white-painted wood walls. The DJ was a Boomer grandmother. Woodstock era folks free-form bounced, writhed, and twirled on the dance floor.
This was Sunday morning in Port Townsend, Washington.
It was fun.
Yet I couldn't help but compare it to dancing in Bolivia.
In Port Townsend my inclination was to make eye contact and interact with the other dancers. But soon I realized that this dance, as fun as it is, has its roots in the Cartesian fragmentation of Western industrialized society. Eyes refused contact, or if they did connect it was for only seconds before breaking the bond and dancing away. Each dancer was in a self-contained bubble. Aware of the other dancers, but only enough to not bump into each other. Something like driving a car.
Whereas in Bolivia, dances and music are all about connecting with each other.
In Lucy Plays Panpipes for Peace we share in this experience.
"Blowing across the bamboo tubes, Lucy looked at the guia who played the six-tube siku like she did, to see which tubes to blow and when in this unfamiliar tune. The thunder of the music transported the sikuris into a single unit of life, as they played in concentric circles, facing each other.
"Lucy thought about how this music forms community. The point isn't to be an egotistical star in front of an audience. On a stage musicians face the audience and not each other. Sikuris, when not parading through the streets or doing a choreographed performance for competition, face each other, face the center. Lucy felt the energy flow out of each musician into the center. The center grew stronger and fed the spirit of each musician."