WOMAD

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I’ve been to WOMAD this weekend just gone and it seems fitting that there should be an article about it. I will explain, but let’s start with the definition: World Of Music, Arts and Dance, at your service.

And the disclaimer: even if I was the one thinking about it, I could not have come up with a better way to entertain myself or with a better expression of the eclectic nature of this particular human being. In short, WOMAD suits me as if it was made to order! Lucky for me, Peter Gabriel is a genius πŸ™‚

I will start with the obvious: it would be very difficult for me to stick with one genre of music. Yes, I love rock, yes, I love classical, yes, I love folk… and I can say yes to pretty much most music, with the possible exception of rap and punk. So WOMAD suits me because it has variety and choices within that variety. Sounds pretty dry, huh? Somehow not enough…. despite every word being absolutely true.

Like most people I listen to the music I love and occasionally delve into something similar to it. But WOMAD means that I can sample a lot more than just the tried and true. It opens up the world, which I assume is not far from the intent. I can listen to Canadian Irish folk then go straight through to Austrian electronica, Brazilian bossa nova, Australian soul, Kiwi rock, Korean drum and this is just one day out of three!

Then it’s the people watching – one of the pleasures of going to WOMAD. You see, the atmosphere at this festival is quite interesting. The experience is more important than individual taste, so instead of competing, people are more likely to settle down and decide they actually like each other. Which, in turns, makes for a relaxed, smiling crowd, mellow during the day (smoking of the green could possibly have something to do with that πŸ˜› ) with an edgier alcohol fueled vibe in the evenings. But its’ family friendly at all times so the little one has come with me since birth πŸ™‚

The food and drink are expensive, as with all festivals, and I have been known to bring peanut butter sandwiches from home in leaner years πŸ™‚

The weather plays an astonishingly small part of the festival despite some real wet or scorching events – if it’s wet then you might see less of the fashion, but that seems to be all.

I don’t know quite to explain why the diversity of people at WOMAD makes me excited and happy rather than apprehensive and on guard. I may know some of them, but we have different taste in music, food, drink and clothes…. we are not of the same age, physical ability, ethnicity. We walk, act, sit and enjoy ourselves differently.

We are not attracted to this festival by any similarity other than our shared humanity – mayhap it’s enough?

Dance

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Why is it, do you think, that non-serious illnesses are the most annoying things of all? Is it because they are non-serious so you couldn’t possibly feel as miserable as you do? Is it because it shows us how weak we are, downed by a simple, not-yet-life thing like a virus? Anyway, feeling rotten so I am in need of something cheerful to take my mind away from streaming eyes and nose and glutes that are aching from so much sitting or lying down.

So let’s talk about dance. Don’t ask where the word comes from, no one seems to know πŸ™‚ The last link is France, do you think dance would have just risen out of the Mediterranean fully formed? But the act of dance itself is very old. People have recorded it on stone 9000 years ago, but there’s nothing to indicate that dance isn’t even older than that.

I was born to dance, the same way I was born to fly, love and help. It doesn’t mean I do any of those things well or alone or even at all :). But whenever I do any of them, the same feeling of normality creeps up on me: I am doing what I am supposed to do. Nothing fancy, earth-shattering or social. Just me, doing what I am supposed to do. The life in me feels heightened, as it should when I am on the right path.

Why then do I not do this more often? Why wait for so long between dances?

Part of the answer lies in my preference for couple dancing. Ballroom, Latino, combinations thereof (except Ceroc), slow swaying to the rhythm of a rock ballad… one needs a partner for those, and that leads me to another part of the answer: to my shame, I lead πŸ™‚

My dance partner has to be strong, confident and skilled. I have a good memory and I love to dance, so I can sweep around the dancefloor without nary a thought to the fact that I should follow my partner. That doesn’t go down well unless said partner has the above qualities. And how many strong, confident, skilled dancers would have the patience to dance with a rank beginner?

I also teach reasonably well so sometimes I ended up increasing the confidence of other girls… which meant that I almost forgot the woman’s steps… which meant that I was not dancing per se… so I stopped.

Excuses, excuses… πŸ™‚

If there is one genre I love it would have to be Latino, with salsa and rumba first among equals. I can spot skill a mile away and grieve when the song is over. I don’t care if my legs hurt or my hips ache or my feet feel on fire. If I could have it my way I would single-handedly open up the dance halls of our grandmothers, mothers, and even myself in another country, in another life. So that going out doesn’t mean having a drink staring across the bar or trying to make myself heard above music that is always too loud. So that going out means that I can be a wall flower and watch beautiful dancing, then quit being a wall flower (never liked that role much πŸ˜› ), grab a group of like-minded people and start living… I mean dancing.. oh, whatever! πŸ™‚

Active

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A long long time ago, under a Mediterranean sun, this verb could be used to say anything that doesn’t involve standing still, from stealing to killing to think of to administer to perform to do.

The English have reduced to preferring action instead of contemplation which, funnily enough, does not exclude any of the above. No, not even the β€œthinking of” since the implication is a focus on something and I have already written about how our minds put our bodies into motion.

If there are two existing things that I would get on my knees and beg to be changed in this lifetime, they would be: encourage your children to move and let your teenagers sleep. There are many things that we need to change in our lives, but the above do not depend only on individuals, but on systems that can sometimes feel too cumbersome for the humans who created them to actually enjoy. Encouraging children to move is the first thing

I shall attempt to explain.

As you may know I love learning in general and I enjoyed going to school in particular. There are many types of schooling (currently I vouch for the Montessori method) and mine was pretty bog standard for that time: you come to school, you have 50 minutes of learning, 10 minutes break, a longer break at lunchtime and so on and so forth, for years on end with the prescribed holidays in between. Most of the learning was supposed to be happening by sitting down, listening to lectures, reading, practicing times tables etc. There was very little movement involved, unless you want to count me writing while my teacher spoke too fast and I couldn’t get all their words written down unless I learnt short hand – I didn’t, although my writing is terrible enough that it looks like I did πŸ™‚

For some reason or another it was considered that PE was for the children who were not β€œintellectual” enough, so most classes didn’t happen, we did maths instead. The ten minutes break between classes was not enough to organize much more than a run around the school race which barely got our heart rate up. I still hold that lack of PE responsible for my less than honourable awareness of left and right sides. πŸ™‚

Then we move to more sitting down in high school, even more at university and we dream of jobs inside air conditioned offices where we sit on our respective bums in comfortable chairs. Then it’s the pension years where a laz-y-boy is a must and then we lie down for the final act.

And yet if there is one thing our bodies know how to do is moving. The body mostly moves for the sheer joy of it, although it does protest useless expenses of energy (dancing is never in that class!!!).

The body regards as useful any activity that it can enhance survival. But the body doesn’t understand statistics that say a certain number of bicep curls lead to a determinate increase in the strength of that muscle. Most of the time we give the meaning to the activity. And if we want to keep that activity going it’s the meaning we need to address, as adults, by adding mindfulness, competition and assorted other incentives like losing weight.

Isn’t it easier to just allow and encourage the children to move? It comes so naturally to them πŸ™‚

*I found the image on quickmeme.com and thought it more appropriate than any I could ever take πŸ™‚ I could not find who took the photo though.