Sunday, 1 February 2015

Still High


Two weeks have gone by but I'm still high from it. A good party can do that. In this case, the occasion for celebration was the birthday of local painter and creative dynamo, Stephanie KellettShe deserves to be celebrated. The woman goes to great lengths to offer beauty and art to the world around her. If you were to drive through our tiny town way out in the mountains and take a look around, you would see what I mean. 

Leading up to the party, she works outside with a crew of wild women, sculpting snow, shoveling pathways, and building an installation/effigy out of broken branches and construction waste to be set ablaze as a kind of mid-winter ritual. It's her way of offering some light and warmth at this dark time way up in the cold, snowy, north. 

We expect people to start trickling in by 9pm, but the first ones are there by 6:30 so the night begins with an old Nina Simone record playing from the soundsystem. For the next twelve hours magic happens. Beautiful people of all ages, body types, and identities have gathered. There are acupuncturists and sex educators, mystic cattle ranchers who cavort with vegetarians, disco punks making merry with folk singers and belly dancers, as well as mechanics, mothers, and back to the landers. Some stand in the orange light of the fire telling stories, others grind and shake on the dance floor inside. 

When burn time comes, stories are told and offerings are made, but not in a way that is contrived, didactic, or new agey. Yes there is intention (mine is to have a really good time), but it is expressed with artful grace that is also light hearted and comedic–a merging of the sublime with the ridiculous. Even with saw dust, gasoline, several lighters, and a blow torch the installation doesn't burn easily. Instead, it just kind of smolders and smokes, making everybody laugh which is a really good thing to Stephanie. 

Except for the burn, I’m behind the turntables all night in my Sugarbear guise–pretty much nine and a half hours straight, but I swear it feels like only three or four. When I’m back there and the party is happening, there’s no place I’d rather be (except maybe on a deserted Alaskan beach with a dozen grizzlies). I enter a timeless place of groovy magic, pure joy, and enchantment which is reflected right back at me when the strobe lights flash on the dancer’s faces. At one point during the night when I'm playing a track by Isis Salam, I remember something a mad hat maker once told me. It was many years before. We were at a party in a barn way out in the middle of nowhere. DJ Craig Mullin was playing records and had the people sweaty and bouncing on the old wood plank floor. The hat maker got up close to my ear so I could hear him above the music, and he said that in this fucked up world of lies, fakery, and commodified fun, a good party is one of the only authentic things we have left. In agreement I smiled big and nodded my head. To some that might sound cryptic, but I knew exactly what he meant.