I’ve been trying to work out what made the second World of Music and Dance (Womad) held in New Plymouth so special.
The sun shone continously, healthy food and Montieths were served up and the big crowd was appreciative. I got to hang-out with many of my friends, and there were chance meetings with half the people I’ve met since shifting to Wellington (ie since growing up and getting a job). We talked lots about philosophy, chutney, changing the world, and the music.
Then there was the music from all parts around the globe, some raucous and energetic, some mournful, slow and delicate. Harmony between peoples was a subtle, shared tune. Yet it wasn’t constant sound as the neighbouring Pukerua Park with its towering rimu and lights provided a peaceful haven.
The organisers seemed to have thought of everything. Tangata whenua held powhiri a couple of times a day to welcome new arrivals, and as an educational experience. The art created by children in the kidzone, which must have been fun to make, formed the heart of a rambunctious parade late on the Sunday afternoon. Two hair artists grabbed willing, adoring people from the crowd to transform hair into walking artworks.
In this setting we, all of us together, tatou tatou, created a fun place to be ourselves, to express ourselves: dance, shake, shout, hoot, smile, laugh. Spontaniety became all our middle names.
Tim, visiting from Whangarei, noticed we had given ourselves permission to look each other in the eye. People were open, curious.
Over the three day event we created a community with norms that expressed our values, fed by the environment and the magic of the music. We didn’t litter. I saw no fights. We were pleasant to the workers, who in turn laughed and smiled. We talked to each other, even to strangers.
By contrast, the thing I noticed most when I walked to work the day after was the greyness of the city, the acres of asphalt, the polluting and dangerous cars, the ugly cars, too many cars full-stop. It dawned on me that you can’t have eye contact with a car.
Anyway, I guess what I’m trying to say is that the only way I can explain what Womad was like is that it was greater than the sum of its parts. I’ll be buying a ticket for the next one the day they go on sale.
BTW: You can see a few snapshots in my new photo album Womad NZ ’05.