After camping under the stars somewhere around Mt. Shasta (once covered with ice, but now bare rock), and moving up the spine of the I-5 corridor, I arrived in Eugene last night. The sun was still blazing hot upon this funky college town as the riff and the raff came to the downtown mall area for the annual Eugene Celebration. Yes, there were glow sticks, but we went for the fire. My friend was spinning poi, great balls of fire that she twirled deftly on the ends of chain. She performed with Warning: Clowns Ahead, a ragamuffin group of fire-jugging, unicycle-riding, gravity-defying (well, most of the time), face-painted revelers. Children covered their mouths, gasping with delight, spotters caught wayward juggling torches as they veered towards the large crowd.
They did two shows and then we wandered through the melee. If New York City is a place where everyone is too cool to dance, Eugene is the exact opposite. A mobile disco ball was set up in one street intersection and one block down, Samba Ja — a twenty-odd piece marching band of sorts — filled another with their bass drums and multiple forms of percussion. Everyone was dancing, or at least bouncing, playing out a life of eternal childhood and silliness and fun, where self-consciousness is a forgotten concept and the body is built for movement and freedom.