Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Slackrope Walking in Malcolm X Park

In years past it has been Dupont Circle that I would always gravitate toward. However, in the past year or so I have often considered and sometimes spoken of shifting my focus to Meridian Hill Park, also known as Malcolm X. Park. My first Sunday Photo Session in Malcolm X Park would take place on 30 July when, for the first time, I would photograph the Sunday evening Drum Circle. which has been in existence for many years. It would prove to be one of the most powerful 'spiritual moments' in my life.

When walking back to the Cardoza - U Street subway station I'd remember that I had not felt so fulfilled since my days in NYC when after a night of partying at Studio 54, The Saint, or the Garage followed by a day at the Saint Marks Bath House that Frank and I would walk or taxi home to our apartment in Chelsea and then Gramercy Park. Totally fulfilled.

And when reviewing the pictures at home, later that night, I was even more satisfied when realizing that they are amongst the best of my collections. And since then I've contemplated what I would do different or, in some cases, keep the same when revisiting and photographing the Sunday evening Drum Circle at Malcolm X. Park.

As this past Sunday would near, I 'filled with anticipation' that was not unlike the feelings I would get during my college years and for several years afterwards Frank, friends and I would frequent tea dances at the Lost and Found. Arriving, perhaps, at around 5 or 6 pm we'd dance until 10 or 11. And then head back home, totally fulfilled.

When visiting Malcolm X Park this past Sunday, 20 August, I presented printed flyers to several of the participants that I had captured during my first Drum Circle session which provided them information and access to the Drum Circle - MXP WDC - 30 July 2006 collection.

When observing two young men, in the process, of tying a nylon rope around two trees that were several yards apart I'd walk over and began capturing them tightrope walking. For the next 10 to 15 minutes I alternated between taking pictures of tightrope walkers, drummers, dancers and capoeira angola. Having arrived in the park shortly after 4pm by the time I'd leave, it was already getting dark. When departing, I'd reach out to one of the drummers that I had handed my flyer to and said "I'm done!. See ya next time". At which time he'd ask "Do you know what time it is?". I'd show him my watch, saying that I did not have my glasses on so I would not be able to see the time. Looking at my watch, he said "7:45".

On the walk to the U Street-Cardoza subway station memories of returning home from tea dances in the 70's and early 80's came to mind. As would Frank Gramarossa. I say this because what goes on in Malcolm X. Park on Sunday evenings is nothing short of a "spirtual connection".

Though, all very physical, in nature ... the drumming, the dancing, the caporeira angola, and tightrope walking are rooted in reconnecting with ones own spirituality.

There are several types of tightrope walking. What I saw and documented on Sunday may would be a form of freestyle stacklining. For a brief history visit Slackline Brothers, Inc..

However, if I'm correct in my research, the young men and others, in Malcolm X Park, were actually engaging in Slackrope Walking. For more detailed information see Mark Sands description of Slackrope Walking.

Historically, Sunday has been the day of the week that I keep to myself, fix a nice dinner and prepare for the upcoming week. While tea dances and then Dupont Circle may have been a part of my Sunday ritual, in the past, more than likely, Drum Circles in Malcolm X Park will be a Sunday ritual, in the fall of 2006. Or, the Sunday Mass DC, which recently has been on a hiatus.

I am now contemplating purchasing a drum for participation in drum circles ... where ever I may go. Who knows, by spring of 2007, I may be slackrope walking in Central Park.

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