The concert bowl had been filling up all through the day and was by now dense with many thousands of concertgoers, a fertile cross of dreadheads draped in African fabrics and dripping strands of copal beads, pretty young women wearing fairy wings, and college students in Gap and North Face casual. A seething and disorganized mass fueled on beer and pot, while reggae music pounded from the PA on the stage.
I heard another rhythm and turned to see a procession making its way in my direction. Above the crowd proceeded first 4 female figures on tall stilts, wearing red corsets edged in black lace, bejeweled, twirling parasols, and weaving sinuously in solemn circles.
The parade approached and appeared as a phalanx, stilt dancers accompanied by a dozen or more women dancing in the same slow circles on the ground, and followed by a group of men in white shifts with bronze and black and green face and body paint. The men were drumming a deep resonant polyrhythm , a gong marking the heart beat. Another group of men carried a bierlike structure on poles that was bearing a large vessel like a great empty bowl.
Alongside frolicked a green man , wild-eyed in tatters and leaves. And various harlequins.
A rag tag group followed behind. Dancing in the same slow circles as the group made its way through the crowd for the hour of sunset. Always solemn, almost dirgelike as the drums and gongs melted into a throbbing tone that was cthonic, stately, trance-inducing.
I followed along too, and witnessed how the crowd was drawn into the passage of the fae troop, eyes wide as touched by wonder and magic. The group threaded even through the crush up in front of the stage, drawing audience energy from the top 40 dancehall band that was performing at the time.
At the moment of sundown they gathered in a circle and began a series of wild vocalizations, raising energy and throwing it up into the air with much trembling of hands. One great burst of howling and it was over. They disbanded and melted away into the crowd.