The Event · I marched as part of an African-drum band led by Russell Shumsky; Eleven Djembés and five Dununs. We played for 2¾ hours, with maybe half an hour of breaks. I don’t know how good we really were, but people clapped when we stopped and danced like crazy whenever there was room, which is a fine thing to see.
We were one of three marching bands—there was also a stage with other bands performing—and then there were many non-musical performers: stilt-walkers, fire-dancers, fire-eaters, fire-throwers, fire-worshippers, and then all the usual things you find at street events.
Also, some tens of thousands of Vancouverites were there for the fun; quite a few of them in costume. There’s no such thing as a homogeneous crowd in this town; they ranged from Commercial-Drive hipsters to exuberant sexual minorities to just plain folks from the burbs. There were electric guitarists in the trees and giant spiders in the alleys and lanterns in the dark and drums, drums everywhere, not just us.
Was it perfect? No, some idiot threw a powerful firecracker right at my feet from behind as we were playing; it scared me half to death and deafened me temporarily in one ear. Banging on a drum puts you in touch with your inner cave-man; I turned and howled, ready to inflict massive violence; if whoever it was hadn’t faded into the crowd I’d have done my best to tear his head off on the spot.
The Documentation · Right away, as soon as the parade started, I noticed a whole lot of cameras, video and still. Some were elaborate, obviously in the hands of professionals, zooming in for close-ups and back for pans as we pounded along the route.
Then there were the amateurs; we were taking a break and two giggly teenage girls came up and asked me to pose with one for the other. “Wow, that came out great!” she said; but I’ll never see it.
This morning, I glanced at Flickr. There were a few when I got up, and now, 24 hours later as I write, there are 478. One photo of our band made into the first couple of screens-full of “most interesting” pictures, and I even show up here.
Hey, there’s a pretty decent video from the 2004 parade (there was none in 2005) on YouTube; I bet there’ll be some from this year up there soon.
Now, what with one thing and another, Vancouver is a little more Flickr-centric than most places, but still, I think, this is the future. Nothing can be done in secret at a public event now, it’ll be captured for sure, probably many times. And then remembered for ever for everyone.