I could hear the drums even out in the lobby. Perhaps a hundred people, perhaps more, sat in a circle, hands pounding on a huge variety of drums: djembes, congas, dununs, and shaking bells and shakers. A woman came forward with a singing bowl. She walked slowly, following the beat of the drums, chiming the side of the bowl. She called forth air, fire, water and earth, and women representing each of these figures came out and danced. Other dancers dressed in white came out, holding candles, which were used to light torches, and then the fire dances began.( Click here for pictures )
The fire dancers came out about once every hour and danced for us, strutting, sweating, laughing, throwing torches and catching them and spinning them around, feet pounding in time to the beat. They were sinuous and sweaty, powerful and mesmerizing. Meanwhile, the drumbeats thundered on and on, even when the dancers retired, rumbling the ground under our feet, sounding in the blood and the bone, like the heartbeat of the earth itself. I drummed for awhile when someone let me use his instrument. I've never done it before, and I managed to jam a finger somehow, so I stopped and relinquished the drum again. Anyway, I preferred to dance. I danced for a couple of hours, grinning with joy, sometimes holding my finger to the pulse in my neck so that I danced in time with my own heartbeat, sometimes twirling so that the torchlight and the fairy lights slurred in my vision into tracks of whirling orange, yellow and red. The smell of incense mingled with the tang of the fuel from the torches. The room stayed dark, except for the fire, and the candles set on the altar on the stage, and the black lights that illuminated the scarves that the jugglers kept flying. That was all right; we weren't afraid of the dark, but sang out to it, keeping the drum beat going to call forth the light that we knew was still there waiting for us, once we danced our way through the longest night. On and on it went, utterly powerful and confident and sexy and primal, and I was stunned by the waves of joy I felt welling up inside myself in response. Joy from knowing that I have made it to this darkest night and that I know I will make it through it. Joy that the depression that I suffered from so last year has lifted, because of the walks I have taken every day in the sun.
I knew that the drummers would drum throughout the entire night and I wanted to stay. But I was tired, and I knew I needed to get up early, so I said goodbye at about 11:30.
I could still hear and feel the drumbeat thrumming through my veins as I drove home.
I definitely plan to come back next year.Edited to add
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