Monday, January 21, 2013

Trippy red giraffes and even trippier colored wheels

Turns out the giraffes were only one part of the spectacle!
OK, the posts have been REALLY out of order lately. We know. This is another post about Santiago a Mil, the theater and culture festival in January. You can read the first post here

Las Jirafas

We went to this without knowing exactly what to expect. I had seen a photo like the one at the top of this post, so I figured we might see some big red giraffe puppets and that would be it. Little did we know...

When we arrived at the amphitheater, it was clearly set up for a show and there were lots of parents with little kids around. But the 7:30 start time came and went, with no sign of a show. By 8pm we were worrying we had come to the wrong place. But then we heard a little commotion a ways up the main boulevard, so we went to check it out.

We found the giraffes, and much more besides. It's difficult to describe the scene, but imagine Cirque de Soleil, crossed with an opera, with everyone dressed in fancy hotel bellhop uniforms, and the three main singers standing on 15 foot tall rolling podiums that move down the street. Got it? The show had been slowly advancing down the boulevard since 7:30, and had now come to rest in an intersection for a little opera singing and drama.

It's hard to see, but the woman in the white fur coat standing behind the middle giraffe is the opera singer.

The plot was pretty simple to follow. The guy wanted to be with one woman, then after he got her, he strayed and messed around with the other woman. The whole thing was a bit raunchy - you could tell he was interested in a woman because he would take a break from singing to bury his face in her breasts or dive down below her skirt. The crowd loved those parts, even though I wouldn't have called it family friendly.

After a few minutes at the intersection, the plot thickened and one person started chasing after another, by which I mean that the bellhops started moving one rolling stage platform to chase after the other rolling stage platform. This meant that the whole crowd (by now in the hundreds or maybe more than 1000) had to keep up alongside the moving performance, so this giant mob of people followed the opera and the giraffes down the street.

They did a few more stops at intersections for a song or an important plot point, and by the time they arrived at the amphitheater it was getting dark out. This just made it even more beautiful and spectacular, as the show included pyrotechnics, flares and beautiful lighting on the red giraffes.

I'm not sure if this description has helped you visualize the performance, or just left you confused, but it was really magical. It just felt like all of a sudden our entire city had become focused on this drama unfolding in spectacular fashion, traveling through our normal environment which at that moment was anything but normal.

Las Ruedas Colores

Whereas the giraffe experience had been unique and indescribably new, we found ourselves making a lot of comparisons while watching the colored wheels event. 

It's like the Cambridge public dance party. It's like the Lady Gaga concert. It's like Blue Man Group. It's like an East Campus Party. It's like the Pride Parade.

While we could make many comparisons, this was still something new and wonderful, and I'm so glad we went.

It was listed to start at 9:30, and we arrived closer to 10pm - only to find that this was also a moving performance and that it had gone a few blocks before we arrived. We quickly biked to catch up, locked our bikes to the fence and enjoyed an amazing view of these giant wheels:
The performers were wearing nothing but a loin cloth, body paint and glitter. And yes, that means the women were topless.

There were about 10 wheels of different sizes, parading down the main street in all of Santiago, called the Alameda. The street was blocked off, the sides were mobbed with people, and these beautiful colored wheels were dancing in the middle. The smallest was about as tall as a person, and the largest about 3 stories tall.

They were operators by a group of performers, all of whom were covered in gray body paint and glitter, so that they almost looked like human statues. The wheels were accompanied by two carts, in the front and rear of the parade, that were blasting dance music. When we got there, the first song was Satisfaction by Benny Benassi, a favorite of mine.
Here are the colored wheels in front of La Moneda, the presidential palace that is basically their White House.

The whole scene was so much fun. Performers dancing in the streets, thousands of people dancing along the sides, and because the whole show was on the move, we kept running ahead to get good spots to watch them come by.

After about 30 minutes, we were about to go home, thinking it was going to be more of the same, when we saw there was also a big stage just ahead with even more wheels. As the show 

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