Sunday, September 26, 2010

The Streets Are Alive With The Sound Of Music

Last January, when Soren excitedly told me he found us a great apartment in an amazing area, he wasn't kidding. We have been enjoying the location of our apartment immensely. We have a Metro station right outside our front door which is ultra-convenient for getting to school, we live across the street from a park, and across from the park is the Seine river and across from the river is Ile St. Louis, we are meters away from La Place de Bastille, and the heart of le Marais district is just a few blocks away. Our centralized location makes it fast and easy to get virtually anywhere. In short, we love this location.

With all these amenities, who could ask for more? Well, we didn't ask, but we received more in the form of a protest rally at our doorstep last week and today, well, when we left our building to accomplish some errands, this is what we saw:
Riot police. On our sidewalk. Should we feel safe or alarmed?
And here, in this 360 degree video clip, you will see the scene surrounding our apartment building which is the building with the blue awning:

With our curiosity peaked, our individual personalities came to a forefront. Nola and I were eager to forge ahead into the massive crowd that we could see gathering on Pont Sully. Soren and Raelyn, being the cautious members of our family, wanted to go back inside and Google this event to find out more data before forging ahead into the massive, and obviously potential, unruly crowd. The riot police made them very nervous. Nola and I won. How could they waste precious time Googling something they know nothing about anyway? We've got things to see here people!

Off we trudged, through the chaotic, loud, and revved up crowd. Thousands of teens and 20-somethings were in our neighborhood, most of them carrying, and drinking, alcoholic beverages. It quickly became apparent to us that, unlike the U.S., an open-container law does not exist here. As we crossed over Ile St. Louis, we viewed several massive semi-trailer trucks lined up along the length of Boulevard St. Germain.  The energy surrounding us was electric. Something was about to happen, we could sense it. But what? We still had no idea what this massive gathering was all about. But the riot police knew, they were ready for action.

Suddenly, the first semi began rolling along the boulevard towards us. Music began blaring from the gigantic speakers on board. A deafening, deep, pulsating rhythm moved through the crowd, creating undulating dance movements from the masses in the streets. Groups of youngsters (I just totally aged myself!) were gathered on top of bus stops, public toilets, benches, garbage bins, and lamp posts. Anything and everything that provided a bird's eye view was occupied. It was surreal. I felt like I was on the set of F.A.M.E.

We soon learned that we were witnessing Paris's Festival Musique Electronique. Semi after semi rolled by, each one containing its own DJ, sound system, techno music, and on-board band of party people. In between each semi, in the streets, crowds followed while they danced along to the beats emanating from the gi-normous speakers rolling in front of them. The music was so loud that I considered running back to the apartment to get ear plugs for Raelyn and Nola. Bystanders, young and old, couldn't help but join in on the dancing. Even those who seemed to be heading home from a workout at the gym:

And, as you'll see in this next clip, wonders can be done with the composition of "Carmina Burana". I wonder if this will become the next "Macarena" craze? That would be some wedding reception!

So, as you can see, it's been quite a week here in our little neighborhood. The girls have now experienced their first protest rally, which felt more like a dance party, and now, they got to experience an actual dance party. I am glad, for their sake, they have had the opportunity to learn, first-hand, these cultural nuances. We are relishing in living in a locale where all the action happens. I'm afraid, however, that when we return to our life in Walnut Creek, things will seem quite boring and tame in comparison.

"DJ Jazzy Death", or so we named him.

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