Fête de la Musique
Everything looks swirly. We had a few extra glasses of wine with dinner, but not enough to impair good judgement or draw undesirable attention to ourselves. The indulgence is just enough to trigger my dopey wine smile. I feel it stretching my face. Normally, this would have been awkward. I’d be shouting from a megaphone, “Hey everyone, I’m foreign”. This is not shameful to admit, but in Paris, beaming smiles are an invitation for petty theft and harrassment. The French tend to reserve their pearly whites for close acquaintances only. Outward public smiling at nothing in particular is just not a French thing. However tonight, everyone is smiling. The French. The tourists. Dogs. Cats. Pigeons. I swear, I even saw a baguette that looked happy. We’re all close friends right now, the hundreds of us squeezed together on a little side street, somewhere in the 11th. Not a frown to be seen. I shimmy through swarms of intertwined, swaying bodies, colliding with light elbow jabs and hip-bumps. This place is jammed. I can’t imagine any toe spared from the accidental toe-trample. In fact, I can’t feel my own toes. The dense June heat drapes the night as our group squeezes onward, slipping past the endless rows of dancing party-goers, their dripping sweat twinkling from the reflection of the streetlights. I don’t mind, surprisingly. Nobody seems to mind. Live music is merrily booming from every Parisian crevice, and everyone’s buzzed solely on good tunes and fun.
This was Fête de la Musique, June 2005. This was also the biggest party I’d ever experienced to date. Perhaps that’s not much coming from a suburban introvert with a penchant for Saturday nights spent on the couch with a glass of Bordeaux, but this celebration is impressive. Fête de la Musique, or Make Music Day, is an annual music festival in France, and now it even has a global following. Faithfully aligning with the summer solstice, Parisian neighborhoods open their streets and ears for a night to celebrate world music, every genre imaginable. Musicians, both professional and amateur, volunteer to perform in all the city’s nooks. Squares. Gardens. Cafes. Thousands of people participate at this event, and the spirit is never anything less than jubilant. The best part? It’s free! A giant, free party.
Fête de la Musique has ruined me from music festivals elsewhere, and I’ve longed to recreate the unmitigated fun from that night- the joyful energy from really great music and the friends you never knew you had. Alas, Fête de la Musique is TODAY on this hazy New England June 21st, and as I always do, I reminisce the fragmented snapshots of song and laughter from that night. To commemorate the celebration from afar, À La Prochaine is hosting its own small music festival on the blog this week. To get the party started, I invite you to tune into the ALP radio.
À La Prochaine