Today is the National Day of Spain. It culminates what has been a four day weekend celebrating people and different cultures with an overarching emphasis the contributions of Spain in the world. On Sunday they had a grand parade where each Central and South American country had a chance to bear their flags, play their traditional music, and celebrate their heritage. Naturally as an American, I think Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade or the Rose Bowl Parade. Take a moment to reconsider with me how parades are presented.
The obvious difference is there were no floats. Not even one. The closest thing to a float would have been the cart they rolled along with each country group that contained a couple stacks of loudspeakers and maybe a DJ with a laptop. Surrounding this sound cart were dancers dressed in traditional clothing. Each group would come by with a white banner announcing their country and at least two flag bearers. The Uruguay group got a little excited with their flags and brought a third enormous flag that would hit you if you got too close, just to make sure we didn’t forget them after their stellar 4th-place World Cup showing. The Cubans were the most exciting. They had enthusiastic and talented dancers who knew how to get the crowd going. The Dominican Republic were well color-coordinated to fit the red, white, and blue of their flag. The Peruvian girls walked around with unopened wine bottles on top of their heads; some stacked two on top as if to say, “Hey look at me, I’m young, beautiful, AND graceful.” Beauty definitely has some different aesthetic between cultures. The Ecuadorian dancers had what looked like mini tents on top of them with bananas and meat and maybe some onions draped down the sides of the tent. I think they were supposed to be animals. My Ecuadorian friends were not impressed. They said that the group only represented the traditions of the sierra in Ecuador and not that of the coastal people.
Which, of course made me think about American Democrats and Republicans, Spain and the Basque Country, Canada and Quebec, Israelis and Palestinians. Seems to me like national boundaries often are like awkward marriages where it’s too expensive to divorce so the couple decides to live together, but in different bedrooms (thank you Brian Snyder for that brilliant analogy).
Anyway, it has been a four day weekend. I’m very ready to get back to the conservatory and started my regimen of practicing again. Lately, it has been two hours in the park just trying to maintain—time to get back to work!