It was one of those amazing weekends where someone asks you, “How was your weekend?” and you’re like, “I don’t even know where to start.”
It was a weekend of three distinct and diverse events that took place in venues that brought out different parts of the communities we live in; part of it was wholesome-ish crowds of all ages and part of it brought out the freakiness of Durango. All of it put together made me incredibly grateful and proud to live in these parts.
It started with the iAM MUSIC walk Friday evening, which took place across eight pop-up venues downtown. It was an organizational triumph pulled off by Ashley Edwards and Jesse Ogle of iAM Music. The venues I hit were mellow, the musicians mostly local, all of the music tight. At the end of each song, some people would politely shuffle out, just as you’d expect at a walkable music festival. The crowds were listening and engaged, a welcome departure from noisy bars.
On the agenda that night after the music walk was the Imaginario Circus at the ACT, headed by Durangoans Extraordinaire Hattie Miller and Steve Ward, to which I had a ticket to the 9:15 show. Around 8:30, I found myself at Open Shutter, first listening to an iAM student band comprised of young women who were killing it. They turned the stage over to Ashley and Jesse as Ace Revel, but by then it was time for me to change into my Imaginario costume. Because, you know, no epic night in Durango is complete without a costume.
This is where the two crowds began to overlap and isn’t that great, when two distinct communities intermingle? I went from regular, respectable guy in jeans and blazer to walking out of the Open Shutter restroom in a striped women’s top that looked like something a medieval jester would entertain the king in, sparkly black tights and a pair of tightie undies I spent the morning covering entirely in duct tape. I’m pretty sure Ace Revel’s crowd was eying me suspiciously, but I had a freaky circus to attend, you see.
The Imaginario Circus was simply stellar, an hour-plus-long visual treat. It was the kind of experience that doesn’t happen often or enough around here, an event that draws out talent you didn’t think existed among us. It was sexy and racy and full of raw talent, strength, courage (both physical and emotional) and athleticism. It was Liz Thomas suspended on a slackline over the audience, balancing and bending in mind-boggling fashion. It was a dozen bodies onstage moving in rhythm. It was Hattie’s tantalizing burlesque performance. It was Steve wrapped in silks 20-something feet in the air, suspending and spinning. At one point, there were a dozen places you could look on stage and see everyone doing something different, something amazing and eye-popping.
And then, after the show, the beats kept pumping. The performers were still playing onstage and us freaks in the audience, all costumed out, many of us in masks, continued the freakiness.
And then, Saturday. I went to the hoedown at the Mancos Opera House, a benefit for the Montezuma School to Farm Project. Talk about a transition from Imaginario. The opera house was packed with kids and parents, boots and denim, brimmy hats and multiple banjos. Gunnison band Free the Honey brought their folky bluegrass, followed by the ever-crowd-pleasing Six Dollar String Band with the old time upbeat picking, singing and playing into one old-timey mic.
Then the Durango gypsy band Carute Roma came on. This is where the weekend tied itself together. With scores of others on the dance floor, we stomped boots, and at one point opened up an ever-growing circle of young and old, joining hands, some soft, some hardened and gruff, all of us smiling and laughing against our will.
For each of these events I’d been hanging with the brother of a friend who was in town from Southern California, and I couldn’t help but keep shouting into his ear, “Isn’t this place amazing?!” Yes, he’d say, amazing indeed.