The here and now... and what and why

Complacency is a trap. At least that’s what I was thinking when I up and left the comfort of a Yankee prep school gig, where I taught music, amongst other things, for 28 years. There was also that life long career as a composer, musician and artist.

First, it was a year in St. Thomas, USVI, working as a reporter and shooting photography and then, a year in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Time passed.
More time passed and a year back in the Athens of America followed by a hasty return to Oaxaca where it is all happening.
A couple of years in San Sebastian Etla and now, just down the road in San Pablo Etla. Life is good.

Click on an image to see it larger.
For additional photography please visit my flickr page.
You can find my music on Jango (World & latin - Worldbeat) and at iTunes and most online stores.
¡Soy consciente de todas las tradiciones del Internet!
If you are coming to Oaxaca, please contact me for tours or advice.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo
The view from Corazon del Pueblo

The hereafter re me

My photo
Oaxaca, Oaxaca, Mexico
Musician, photographer, videographer, reporter, ex-officio teacher, now attempting to be a world traveler

Friday, November 5, 2010

Day of the Dead - San Agustin Etla

Certainly one of the highlights of El Dia for me was when I awoke very early Tuesday morning to catch the dancers in San Agustin Etla just up the road.  They wear the most interesting outfits covered with bells or mirrors.

They come in all ages

and they start young.

First, imagine dancing for over 24 hours.  Next, imagine drinking and dancing for 24 hours.  Now imagine doing it wearing many pounds of metal and/or glass.

  These outfits weigh a ton as you can see from this guy's face.

This is the third or forth time I have shot this and each time I am amazed and learn more.  The first time I was just overwhelmed by the whole thing, instant euphoria.  Last year, I remember being caught up in the mosh pit at the end and wondering what was going on.  This time I knew that there were three groups of dancers from various neighborhoods, Vista Hermosa, San Agustin and San Jose and that they are very competitive.  In fact, one could surmise, they do not like each other very much, at least, not when dancing.

Starting the day before, each group travels from house to house, led by a traditional band, dancing the whole time.  Well, maybe taking a little time to drink some mezcal or eat an orange, but most of the time they were moving to infectious music.

I went with the groups as they went to several homes and then went to the base of the hill where I knew the groups would eventually meet.  "Meet" is not the right word.  Really, it is a scrum or mosh pit.

First, the band led the dancers from San Agustin in.  There were guys cracking bullwhips which sounded like gunshots.  The crowds closed in while at the same time, the bands were leading the other groups in.  You can see that the tubas and drums are head to head just blasting away.

They push forward and it gets a little scary as the dancers go ballistic, pushing, shoving, throwing things, including epithets.  Meanwhile, the security guys are effectively keeping control by grabbing dancers or out of control folks.  I planted myself right in the middle and got pushed around, all the while holding the video camera overhead on a tall tripod.  Guess what?  Great video.  Be patient.  I will post it soon.

There were lots of great costumes, some traditional,

some not
and some well, just out there.

A total blast!  One of the best!


Joan said...

I am amazed by the costumes and wonder why that hasn't caught on in the US. I would love to be there at the end--someday.

Can't wait for the video.

Richard Ellis said...

I'd love to attend this in 2014. Does the day time parade take place always on the 5th of November in San Agustin Etla?