Hippie Belly Dancers in Shangri-la - On the Road #8


Hey y'all,

Yesterday I promised other random snippets - you know, impressions and stories that don't fit anywhere, but are good in and of themselves, but after the Pando story, it just didn't seem to fit. If you’d like to read letter before this one, click here.

Anyway here goes:

Hippie Belly Dancers in Shangri-la. 

As I said, when I arrived at the Girdwood party in Kennicott, there was a drumming band playing and belly dancers gyrating. They seemed discombobulated though. Not all their troupe showed up and they were crowded amongst the ruins of a copper mine, and had difficultygetting it together, you know? It was cool and all that, but they were not in sync, within themselves or with each other. 

Of course, I didn't know that until later, I just thought it was an amateur group having fun with their friends...

Later as the sun went down, and the "official" festival was over, the late-night band – Smooth Money Gesture - was setting up their stage down on the moraine - yes, as in glacier - because they agreed to be good neighbors and move the party away from the lodge - a drum circle started at one of the tents. 

The festival was on a hill below an old lodge, which probably used to be part of the copper mine that was in operation in the area for a short time, and above the terminal moraine of a glacier. It's embarrassing, but I can't remember the name of it, but as this glacier cut through a few different valley, it carved so much silt, that it sat on top of it - three feet of it, so it looked like the surface of the moon. You could see rolling hills lines in reddish, yellowish, and grayish hues indicating that this soil came from different valleys. So that was the view.

The tent where this drum circle started up, was right on the edge of this moraine that looked like the end of the world - unless somebody told you, you'd never know there was an ancient glacier underneath. As two or three people started drumming, I left my dilapidated tent (I'd forgotten one pole - kind of a crisis when the tent requires two) to hang out there and sat on the ground, with everybody else. Before long one of the belly dancers came out of the tent.  Instead of her skimpy top, she was wearing a lightweight white sweater with a hood, her long reddish brown hair flowing to her waist. As the music continued, she slowly started to dance, moving her shoulders and upper back in a wave as she spread her arms out and her hips joined in. A couple more people joined the drum circle, beating on plastic buckets, but strangely enough it worked. After a few more minutes, another dancer joined the first, and they synchronized beautifully as they shook their hips when the tempo was fast and circling their hands and fingers slowly above their heads when the tempo was slow. Then a third joined them, and those of us sitting down moved back as they danced in a circle, kicking up their legs and moving in concert. The fourth that joined them didn't have the space to dance, so she added to the beat of the music by shaking bells. The night was cloudy, but every so often the moon peaked through, illuminating the scene that was lit between twilight and darkness...Sitting on the ground, we were at the level of the music, while the dancers celebrated the life in their bodies above us - backlit by the night sky and whatever lamps were coming from the heart of camp. From the ground, they looked like goddesses, once I stood up to move around, they were ordinary women dancing with their friends. The spell was broken and I moved on.  

It was only twenty minutes, but the magic of that time is forever etched in my mind. 

Something tells me this is a good time to stop...

Feel free to drop me a line, y'all know I love to hear from you even when I am on my happy trails...


PS: This was from the DIY booktour/roadtrip I took in 2005/2006. Fortunately or unfortunately, my email journal to my friends was the record I kept of that time. I took NO PICTURES. So this image I used, although striking, has nothing to do with that night.