Monday, August 3, 2009

Bolivian Parade

Dare I say, Groovy? The Bolivian Parade marched down Jersey starting at Hamilton Park on Saturday. J.C. motorcycle cops riding in formation cleared the streets and at least a half a dozen dance troupes followed. It was a parade filled with bells and whistles. Literally, a lot of dancers had bells incorporated into their clothes, embedded mainly on the side of their boots and they blew whistles, which they clenched between their teeth while they danced.

The dancers swayed, skipped, tapped. At times they fell to their knees, then leapt up, kicking their heels. A lot hopping, a lot of whirling. Troupe after troupe—all in unison, men, women, children—dancing. The choreography was elaborate and intricate. They did their routines at every block. Their energy, enthusiasm and synchronicity amazed. My favorite was a bunch of young adults performing some kind of mating ritual. They were wearing copper colored outfits. At one point, the guys formed to rows, fell to their knees and waved their hands in air as senoritas pranced through this gauntlet. I felt the adoration of women—and desire itself—was being celebrated.

It was so colorful. Bright red. Bright blue. Bright copper. Bright black. Women twirled and their frilly dresses flew up; thighs and panties abounded. Hispanic looks, gaucho looks; South American Indian garb, like blankets and feathers. Inca masks on some of the guys. Bowler hats on the women. I love that mix you see in South American (and Central American) cultures, of Native & Spanish cultures. Pre-Columbus & Post Columbus colliding centuries ago, that collision now preserved as festive folklore.

It was Jersey City’s fifth Bolivian Parade. What a fun bunch. “I’ve seen a lot of parades,” a cop said to me. “These guys enjoy themselves the most. Their energy is incredible.”

Later in the day, I walked by a parade participant family. They were by their car, folding up their vivid costumes, ready to go home. I told them how much I enjoyed the parade, was impressed by how vigorous the dancing was, the way these strenuous routines were repeated at each block. “It was nothing,” said the wife. “At the Hispanic Day Parade, we dance for 40 blocks.”

“Glad you enjoyed the Parade,” said the husband. “Come back next year.”

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