T+L Global Bazaar
Last night I performed with the Brooklyn Qawwali Party at the Travel + Leisure Magazine's Global Bazaar event held at the Armory in New York City. I can't remember the last time I had this much fun at an event - I honestly felt as though I went on a whirlwind global escape to all four corners of the earth, it was wonderful! The T+L Global Bazaar coincided with the celebration of the magazine's 40th Anniversary, and they sure knew how to throw a party. My good friend, Lauren Pellettieri (co-founder and president of Liberated Movement in NYC) joined me as my partner in crime in what seemed like an evening of never-ending joy! Dancers, performers, musicians, food, drink, world-renowned chefs, desserts, locally made crafts, everything you could think of, T+L had it! There were even sand sculptors that made a plain wall of sand into an architectural masterpiece while Chef Morimoto was happily serving his exquisite black cod (yes, THE Iron Chef Morimoto!).
A phenomenal group of carnival dancers from St. Thomas blew everyone away. First of all, as the stilt dancers (that's right, not just stilt walkers but stilt dancers) were waiting for their grand entrance, we asked to sneak a picture with them before the doors opened. To my surprise, as I was getting ready to take the photo with my arms up high, the two dancers grabbed my hands and effortlessly lifted me into the air! AMAZING! (And thank you, Lauren, for snapping this photo just in time!!)
Once the dancers entered the room, the energy literally went through the roof. As you can see in this video, the dexterity and balance that these men have is out of control. A backwards leg lift and a full back squat seemed completely normal and by no means out of the ordinary to these Caribbean giants. How do they do it?!
The carnival celebration continued when the ladies of St. Thomas joined the stilt dancers for a feathery, glittery, Caribbean extravaganza - these ladies were covered in sparkles from head to toe, and everyone watching could not help but join in on the hip shaking. Seriously, what a fabulous night of fun and festivities! Lauren and I then decided to head to Singapore - there was of course a green screen background with a basket full of props to transport us to the bustling squares of the Singaporean nightlife. These photos are too ridiculous to not include in this post...
By the way, I forgot to mention the amount of food that was being offered throughout the event. Numerous chefs with booths set up to feature their signature dishes, Blue Point oysters on the half shell continuously replenished on tiers of ice, soft shell crab, gourmet chocolates, cod fish fritters, chicken satay, Indian samosas, fois gras, wine, cheese, Spanish tapas, caviar, Dark & Stormies, a liqueur that tasted like a butter-scotch version of Bailey's Cream...I could go on and on.
Last but not least, we headed to the other side of the bazaar...the Island of Fiji must be the most hospitable place on earth; we made such wonderful friends from the Kabunivanua Conservatory of Music that I am now determined to make Fiji a next stop on the Bare Feet™ itinerary. A common ritual that they shared with us was the drinking of cava - a relaxing drink made from a crushed powdered root filtered through water, this drink is given to you by a member of the tribe. Clap once to accept the drink, gulp it down, and then clap three times as a sign of respect to thank the one that offered it to you in the first place. The cava has a very distinct earthy taste to it, but it also has a strange effect (lips and tongue go a bit numb, and you feel immediately relaxed). As you can see from these photos, our new friends were happy to share quite a few gulps of cava with us. The ladies also showed us how to weave grass mats and the men began to serenade us with some traditional folk songs from their homeland. Vinaka, Fiji!
Our new friends from Fiji also demonstrated some amazing dances, one of which was the Meke Wesi or the War Dance (also known as the spear dance). As you can see, this strong dance, done only by the men, is a dance to be done in preparation for war or combat. Very expressive and energetic, it was a joy to watch! The T+L Global Bazaar will be open to the public today and tomorrow, September 17-18, 2011 - for ticket information, go to www.tlglobalbazaar.com - it is definitely worth seeing! You can find me dancing with BQP both days, along with other wonderful performances. Be sure to check out more videos on the bazaar at the TravelBareFeet youTube channel, including the Meke Iri (Fan Dance), singers performing Fiji folk music and more!