I live on a wonderful city block in Seattle, Washington, USA. It is full of artists and musicians, and sometimes in summer, with people playing or practicing their instruments, the cacophony of music drifting from open windows along the block resembles a conservatory. For many years we have had the tradition of a loosely organized talent show as part of our annual block party. It is a great way to honor and appreciate the artistic side of the individuals who live close to us, and keep tabs on what the neighbor kids are into (musically speaking) as they grow up before our eyes. Mostly everyone has at some point in time shared something, whether it was a song, story, joke, game, or “other”. One year a group of 10 performed an awesome dance to “R-E-S-P-E-C-T”. Other highlights were Devon, a shy boy on the block, who astounded us with a cool beat box routine, and my personal favorites: Dorothy, the strutting six-year-old girl, who sang “I’m Gonna Wash That Man Right Out Of My Hair” while twirling a towel, immediately followed by her eight year old sister, Winnie, delivering a heart wrenchingly beautiful version of “America the Beautiful” on her flute. In the past, we have often augmented the festivities with a pet show and/or square dance, but this year’s program had so many stupendous acts that nothing more was needed. Here is an overview:
Prelude: The racoons on our block (a mother and 3 teenagers) were a lively topic of discussion as people told stories of finding the furry prowlers in their kitchens and living rooms looking for food, on one occasion facing off with a desperate naked screaming human yielding a squirt gun filled with ammonia, with no animal rights activist in sight.
The show lineup:
1). Sally- as a certified “Laughing Club” Instructor, she engaged the crowd with some very silly but fun icebreakers.
2). Ella and Johanna- mother and toddler/daughter sang the chestnut “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”
3). Teo’s Acrobatics- 10 month old Teo performed a balancing act on his dad’s hand and lived to tell the tale (if only he could talk)
4). Kota the Cubano Canine- the little doggie performed many captivating tricks wearing his “SUPERSTAR” sweater
5). Effie- played rousing clarinet selections like “When the Saints Go Marching In”
6). Anna-danced hip hop moves to a pop tune played on a cd player
7). Yonah- performed a 10-second daredevil skateboard routine
8). Wiebke- displayed her beautiful and whimsical hand-made recycled clothing
9). Robin- read selected accolades listed in her newly released “Trauma Handbook”
10). Allison- told a riveting eagle story with yoga moves
11). Leah and Bill- a very accomplished teenage fiddler and her guitarist dad played a hoedown
12). Conor and Claire- small children who enthusiastically accompanied Effie’s clarinet with their plastic horns
13). Dina and Frank- wife sang a humorous sing-along while her husband played guitar accompaniment
14). Stewart- taught us a hilarious game which we played by shooting Q-tips at each other through plastic straws
15). Dyan-gave her final speech as out-going block captain and a new successor was installed (me)
After the show, everyone ran home and got their potluck dishes, returned to the street, and we all ate, drank, shmoozed and made merry (including scooter rides up and down the block for the kids) until past dark. A fabulous time was had by all, and the evening was declared another success in block party history.