Held in Salem's beautiful Riverfront Park, the Salem World Beat Festival is a visual smorgasbord of multi-cultural delight. It is a two day, non-stop program of international costumes, music, dance, activities and folk-lore.
Wanting to get out into the sunshine and experience something grounding, yet universal, I was drawn to the promise of the Rainbow Dancers...a multi-ethnic group of dancers from Western Oregon University with Darryl Thomas and his African dance and drumming class. I neither drummed nor danced...at least on the outside, but I did pack up my festival quilt, rolled it up into its position at the bottom of my backpack and headed out for some fun.
I didn't expect the heat of the sun beating off the warm grass, and glistening bodies everywhere, indulging in ethnic culinary delights, nor the myriad of musical sounds all coming from many multi-cultural areas at once, but I got what I went for. I sat on my little quilt, kicked off my Birkenstocks, wiggled my tired little toes and leaned back to enjoy.
The drums called out to some deep place within and I was surprised how musically intertwined they became with a few simple percussive rattles. Volunteers seemed eager to take a seat and try their hands in rhythmic tapping and shaking and it melded into a lovely primal sound that was surprisingly enjoyable. Three members of the African Dance Troupe came in and in no time, volunteer participants joined in, as well. I was amazed at how long they could maintain the beat in the heat of the day, but it was delightful to sit back and watch!
An hour later, I left to peruse all of the wonderful fares in the open-air markets and booths and to enjoy the site of the Mahjstang....the Scandinavian Mid-Summer's Pole, a lovely cross, made totally of flowers.
I left, warmed up inside and out, rejuvenated from the sights and sounds and ready to use the little quilt for some quiet time for my three cats at home!