Saturday, May 28, 2011

The Queen of Five Points Jazz Festival...

I was hanging out at the Five Points Jazz Festival on a windy, overcast spring afternoon, slightly disappointed in the lack of food...

In previous years, the festival saw a plethora of authentic street food courtesy of local businesses and families, and it was the perfect accompaniment to the good tunes. Sadly, there was but one lonely bbq stand this year, punctuated by a long line of people, and it didn't look that great.

I settled down on the curb nearest the main stage on an empty stomach and listened to a very talented older woman sing and skat through the standards, putting on quite a show. The breeze had died down in the waning afternoon, the weather became pleasant, and in between songs the people passed my path and my attention. Its one of the best festivals I've been to and while the food was certainly one of the reason why (and sorely missed), the people make it what it is. One can get a true glimpse of Denver in Five Points from its residents, the old Western-bound spirit runs though its streets and through their veins.

Once the main stage set was over, I got up and began the short walk home for a bite to eat and a beer (something the Five Points Jazz Fest has always severely lacked). On my way, I noticed a makeshift sidewalk sign in front of a small chapel facing Welton Street. It was handwritten, and read Jam Session in Here.

The invitation was too enticing to pass up, so I went in and grabbed a seat amongst a crowd of about fifteen others, all of whom gave me the impression that they frequented the spot regularly on Sunday mornings. I smelt good food cooking in the back, and was relieved to know that people were still eating well at Jazz Fest, even though I knew it would be rude of me to ask for some.

The aforementioned jam session consisted of four old dudes: an old hippie on drums, an old pro on stand up bass, an old soul on congo drums (who I recognized from a drum circle I watched not that long ago. I wonder if they were practicing for the fest...), and a very old, broad shouldered general pounding old school tunes into an antique piano. They were playing my kind of jazz, 50's and 60's kind of stuff, and playing it raw and gritty, the way it should be in my opinion.

After a few sweaty songs, I happened to look away from the music towards the doorway and was pleasantly surprised to see a beautiful young woman's silhouette standing in it, her feminine curves bold against the setting sun behind her. She came in and smiled and I saw how truly beautiful she was. Her hair was done up in a big carefree afro that moved half a second after she did, giving her movements a slow-motion-like feel as she greeted everyone there but me. Her body was that of a dancer's, strong and womanly, and her kind smile lit up the room. She was sexy, she embodied American sexuality, and everyone was affected by it.

Despite the commotion she created, the Old General never looked away from his piano. But she had made her presence known to him in some other way, and he acknowledged it by calling out the next piece, a lively Latin jazz number. The beautiful young girl immediately stopped what she was doing and focused on the beat. She began to shake her shoulders to it, and the crowd started to cheer her on. She laughed and became shy, but with more and more encouragement from congregation, she gave in and kicked off her shoes and joined the band.

Before doing anything else though, she went up to each player and gave them a deep bow to the floor, all the while the samba beat droned on in anticipation. Her respects paid, she made way to center stage and let herself go, completely offering up her beautiful body to the mercy of the music and its players.

What followed was one of the most inspired improvised acts I've ever witnessed. She was a professional dancer, of this there was quickly no doubt, but her choices of movement, her reactions to the music and the crowd (which was, by this point, going nuts) was nothing short of a miracle. She frantically infused ballet, hip hop, latin, tribal; anything that seemingly came to her mind was effortlessly and expertly displayed through her body. Her energy radiated and It took my breath away, and in that brief moment, I fell in love with her. I wanted to anoint her the Queen of Five Points and shower her with all of life's riches.

The song came to a long and drawn out end though, and when the music finally stopped, amidst the still loud and boisterous cheering from the small crowd of which I was a part of, the Queen broke down in tears and left the small chapel emotionally and spiritually spent. She had given herself to us out of duty and now, she needed to rest.

I got up, and followed her on to the street, my heart still aching, and tapped her shoulder, not really knowing what to say. She turned to me with a welcoming smile that by then I had come to expect, tears still in hers eyes.

"That was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen." I managed to say, but it didn't even come close to what I was feeling.

She wiped away her tears and smiled, even larger than before which I didn't think possible, and we embraced.

I held her tightly as she gently sobbed against my chest. Once she stopped crying, we looked into each other's eyes and said farewell. She knew and I knew that I had been knighted by her majesty that evening, and that I had to leave her, so I could go out into the world and fight for her.

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