Saturday, 4 April 2015

The Big Time (or Exploring human culture without travelling)

The Big Time is what a Pow Wow is called by native tribes in California.

And there is a Pow Wow at UBC's War Memorial Gym today, to which I have been invited by George's Kookum (Grandmother) and cousin.  While my other Grandmother's facial expression revealed her shock at the news of me attending such an event (I'm actually not quite sure into what particular category of evilness her mind categorizes Native culture), I have never been to a Pow Wow, and am looking forward to something new.  After all, might as well make use of the time I have before I die ;-)

Since I am refusing to drive a car in this city, I have opportunity and reason to watch dark clouds at the horizon with trepidation.

Fortunately there is a bushy tree available to stand under when a short downpour starts. I arrive at UBC way too early and the inlaws, who are travelling here by car from East Vancouver are having a slow start.  That gives me time to be astonished by a Blue Whale skeleton at UBC's biodiversity building.

The car drivers finally arrive one hour later. Since a bike could have easily covered that distance in 45 minutes,  I greet them with a "So you pay for gas, you pay for parking, and you line up at every traffic light; Remind me: What are cars good for again?"  When I see April wobble along the pavement and pull herself up stairs by the railing I initially fear she has had too much Good Juice, but that guess could not be further from the truth.  Seems she does NOT believe in 'Sensible Heels' ;-).

While there seems to be a trend in Vancouver (and probably other places) to embrace certain local events that start out small and charming and then end up being considered chique and the place to be by the vast crowds living in sterile highrises in some Metropolis close to a Skytrain station, Native Pow Wows are fortunately not yet one of those events full of the bored crowd.  

After we pay our admission by donation, I tackle the steep learning curve of how these things work.  A very large if not the dominant part of this Pow Wow seems to be dancers competing in various age and gender categories to be picked by judges to receive some award.

The first category I see after entering is 'girls', and some of them dancing in their regalia accompanied by native drumming and chanting are an impressive sight to see.

'Boys' are next and everyone dances their heart out to be one of the ones selected by the judges.

Future Braves?
Between the categories are times when it's a Free Mingle For All

The next category is 'teen girls' (13 to 17 years old)

not my pic
UBC's war memorial gym is not that well lit and the dancers are moving quickly in step with the drumming rhythm so quite a lot of the pictures are blurred, but that only serves better to convey the sense of motion.

After that it unfortunately time for me to leave this event. I have to cycle back to North Vancouver and procure some mouse traps for Grandma who discovered a mouse in her house.

I will miss the 'teen men' and the 'women' and 'men' categories, which is unfortunate.  As I know from a distant in-law, there are quite a few people who train and refine their dancing daily in their garage to be able to compete for the adult prizes, which can be quite substantial and consequently the quality of the act can be quite impressive.  I will do better next time !!!

Evidence of Western Culture pollution:  Wanda and her selfie stick ;-)

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