October 25th, 2003

Fishy Circumstances

Night of Dread, or, a Tale of Two Soups

I've been lazy and sleepy today, perhaps a consequence of the fun of last night's impromptu game playing extravaganza. It was in part an attempt to help get rid of more of our large accumulation of drinks from the party the other week. It made some indentations, but we still have a substantial collection of potable liquids. Anyways, tonight was the Night of Dread, an annual event held in Dufferin Grove Park shortly before Halloween. C. went last year and I saw his amazing costume photos. This year, I could go.

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By the time we arrived, we'd missed the parade of strange and marvellous costumes, many of which were on stilts. (C. took lots of photos and hopefully will be posting some of them!) The drums were pounding and abstractly white-clad people, a good fifteen of them, wearing death-like masks, were dancing around the bonfire. It was enthralling to watch. Eventually the piece ended, and the band struck up a waltz, along with the invitation to come waltz with death. Each of the death-masked dancers took a partner, and switched off regularly so everyone could have a chance.

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Afterward, was the burning of fears, an event I'd heard about from last year. Large white pizza boxes, stuck on poles around the bonfire, were labeled with the names of fears: SARS, big dogs, xenophobia, loss of culture, hunger. All sorts of things. One by one, a shaman collected each of the fears from the audience, held it up high so everyone could see, and placed it into the fire to burn.

There was music for another hour or so, some eery, some cheery, all good. We loitered and warmed around the fire and talked to Becky and a friend of hers who had arrived early that morning from out of town. Many of the audience members were in costume. Many were children. Off to one side there were rows of shrines, most vague and evocative of purpose, but elegant and candlelit. It was a strange and wonderful event. I'd love to go back again some other year.