Meeting up with a good friend of mine in San Francisco was a joyous reunion. She flew in from Vancouver on Tuesday afternoon, rented a car from the airport and picked me up in SF. We had so much to talk about that we eventually gave up and threw the Platinum Unicorn Collection in the CD player and cruised the Pacific Coast Highway blasting glitchy beats and enjoying the breathtaking scenery.
Arriving in Sebastapol around 7pm, we were amazed to find the house we would be Couchsurfing in is actually a beautifully restored big red barn. Loft ceilings, farm wood walls, and sun warmed patios = my friend’s first experience with Couchsurfing. Proudly I introduced her to our new hosts, and we all hit it off right away. Coincidence has it that our hosts had already planned a pizza party on the Wednesday.. which just happened to by my 24th birthday. We celebrated with homemade pizza, copious local microbrews, laughter and fresh friendships. One of the best birthdays I’ve ever had, hands down.
Since then, I have spent my days exploring the area in and around Sebastapol during the day while my friend attends workshops at Tribal Fest 2012. This convention is the largest of it’s kind, and has been established since 2001. For 5 days, teachers and students come from all over the world to attend workshops and performances. The classes “include Tribal and World Fusion Belly/Dance, Gothic Belly/Dance, Theatrical and Interpretive Dance, lecture classes, specialty classes – and of course synchronized group improvisational Tribal Style BD, or ATS!” The performances run all day Friday through Sunday, and feature hundreds of the top dance performers in the scene, hailing from France to Costa Rica, Japan to Canada.
Last night, I volunteered for 4 hours at the performance check in. Knowing nothing about the superstars of the bellydancing world, this was the perfect place for me. While crazed fans were trying to sneak in to the green room for autographs and multiple dance troupes were arriving at a time, I remained cool, calm and collected among all the glitter. Intricate costuming, feathers, bangles, henna, silk, leather, laughter, nerves, smiles and scents of amber. Extravagance and drama.. this is belly dancing.
These women blissfully inhabit their own world that revolves around the appreciation of real beauty. Unfortunately, nowadays “the billboards of corporate mythology are inescapable. Their vast monopoly on images becomes the ruling faerie tale of modern times. We stop noticing anything else and believe them. If we want a different story, we have to replace the images of money and perfection with new ones. We have to show ourselves pictures of new things to believe in.” (Off the Map). I am happy to report that hundreds of people are doing just that. Steps to personal freedom include: learning truths untold in magazines, rebuilding confidence beaten down by billboards, and believing in faerie tales sung by hip scarves. ❤
………… now the sun is shining, and I’m prepared for another full day of performance and beauty. Hopefully I’ll grab some photos today. Did I mention that this year’s Tribal Fest is the “Year of the Unicorn”? More unicorn imagery.. could this trip get any more magical? The answer? Most likely.