Saturday 10 November 2012

River Festival Parade

This year's River Festival was as nurturing, as beautiful and as relaxed as last year's, however I must admit I did feel like vomiting for half of it, I was nervous, I couldn't eat, couldn't really concentrate and yes, felt very sick in my stomach. I have always shied away from performing, always feeling quite anxious and never really getting the 'performers high', I have also shied away from exposing too much of my body since having children, well that all changed last Saturday night. 
Flushed with nerves all fifteen dancers* (all of whom are mothers, except Tierra, who is 10), gathered together to get ready, there was lots of laughter, feathers flying, nervous wees and a beautiful sense of togetherness, many of the performers had never, like me, performed before, I was so proud of all of us together, the fifteen of us of all different ages, shapes, sizes and phases of fertility (especially Sammi, who was 8 months pregnant with her third child). I personally felt empowered because this performance was for fun, for us, for the community, it was embracing of everyone and embracing of what individuals felt comfortable with. I know we all feel insecure about something with our bodies but this was about embracing ourselves and being proud and comfortable in our own skin. 
and then we danced. 

After months of drought, there was a sudden shower just before we were about to perform,  we were worried about our headdresses and a dwindling crowd but beautifully it brought the town together as everyone huddled closer, excited about finally getting some rain and anticipating the parade. The rain stopped, the drummers started and people started to gather around, drawn by the beats, the movement, the building of something that was to begin and then (as according to Scott) there was a murmur in the crowd, they looked up and there we were in a line up on a hill, resplendent in our costumes and then we started making our way down some precarious stairs to the drummers and the crowd. 

For me, once we made it down the slippery slope and lined up for the drummers all nerves had disappeared, oh my goodness it was so much fun, the energy was electric. It was so wonderful to dance together as a group, with the group, for the group, I was so used to dancing with this group, that really the crowd didn't really exist, well that, partnered with anonymity that the costume provided equalled a boundary pushing glorious time. 

Needless to say, I now know what a 'performer's high' is and I think I have the sickness, I just can't wait to do it again. Next performance for Samba Soul (the drummers) and dancers is Peats Ridge Festival, hmmm, I am pretty keen, I think I might just do it.
Quite honestly, this time last year when I watched the dancers, I remember clearly thinking how amazing they were but in no way would I be able to do that, but spurred on by Kell Stoner and memories of hearing about how a dear friend used to do burlesque dancing and how in awe I was of that, I decided to through caution/insecurities to the wind and just get amongst it and yes, I loved it.

Here is a little clip from the parade, quality isn't that great, but it gives you an idea.

Oh, I know what you are thinking; where did these gorgeous pictures come from, well the amazingly talented Cassandra Sutton from Loop the Loop photography, kindly gave me her permission to use them. There are also some more River Festival pictures on her beautiful blog. Thank you Cass.
*oh for those readers who have no idea what i look like, i am in the second row of dancers, with the long dark hair.

And just when you thought you had your fill of feathers, bustles, bottoms, breasts and headdresses, here are a couple behind the scenes shot from our last dress rehearsal.
photo by Johanna


  1. Yay! I have been looking forward to reading this!!

  2. Ai! Que caliente , mamasita! Glad to hear you've partaken of and enjoyed the high, its addictive!

  3. what awesome costumes! And such a lovely description of your feelings and emotions about performing, I almost felt as though I was there with you. All the pictures look amazing, every single dancer just looks so happy. good on you for doing it! x

  4. You are truly amazing for facing your challenges and forever growing in so many ways. Love you so.


  5. How brave you are Jay, and how gorgeous do you and the girls look! Bellingen appears to be such a wonderful,creative and connected community. xx

  6. thanks everyone for such kind and supportive words. we had dancing again today with about 8 new recruits, half of whom were over 60, so beautiful. xx

  7. I lOVE these photos Jay! You all look so fabulous, joyful, vibrant... I'm back-and-forth in my mind about Peats Ridge this year, we haven't been since Elliott was a babe. You'll have such a great time if you go.

  8. How brave and fun. Rodge does a type of uruguayan drumming (candombe) – their group has dancers, but I've always chickened out of joining in. Very inspiring ... maybe, one day.

    1. how great, i think you should do it, what kind of dancing do they do? oh so fun. looking forward to reading all about it (one day)!


thank you, thank you for sharing your words, thoughts, feelings. xx