Today from 11am-3pm I went to the Fandangobon festival at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center.
Fandango is a participatory music and dance tradition from Veracruz, Mexico. Obon is a Japanese Buddhist tradition of music and circle dances in remembrance of ancestors. Both of these flourishing cultural expressions create community. This year LA Commons was invited to join the festival to get the African American community involved as well and introduced Yoruba traditional dance to the festival.
Before the circle community dancing began there was a sustainability festival. These communities all brought there projects together to spread the word about creating a sustainable Little Tokyo. Some of the booths included: Transition Culver City, Food and Water Watch, the Sanitation Dept, Eco Fashionistas, Mottainai and fan making, Sustainable Little Tokyo, LADWP Incentives, Great Leap, LA Commons and the JACCC information. This was the “activism” part of the event.
It was really inspiring to see the mixing of cultures in this space. Everyone came together, had a platform, had space and a voice in this festival and in the circle dance. Before the dancing and music began some of the organizers (I think from the JACCC) really emphasized how the festival and dance were really about participation and “activating” the space. Everyone joined to create a huge circle around the music/stage to start the dancing. We alternated between the three styles of dance with an instructor from the community leading us through the steps. You did not have to be good or even do the right steps (my footwork was less than spectacular) the point was just to participate, feel the energy of the dance, and build bonds as a community. It was really fun to learn the different styles of dance. And as we got into the second hour of dance the sky opened up and the wind started blowing a lot. It was a very powerful spiritual moment to be a part of. As we were dancing we were supposed to be thinking about the Earth, with a focus on Water because of the drought, so when the weather started to become more active I could just sense a shift in the community dance. We all felt like we were part of something bigger and that the Earth could sense our dancing for it.
This was a really unique experience for me. I have never been to an event before that is so centered on the bridging and intersecting of communities for activism through art. It is inspiring to see communities committed to supporting each other. I think that kind of support is essential in activism and in life.
Fandangobon was a really great event and I highly suggest you all go next year.