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Dancing to the End of the World

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My favorite activity is dancing – West African, Afro-Brasilian, pure Samba, bellydance, you name it. And nowhere is dance more highly regarded and more integral to each day of life than in Salvador, Bahia, in the northeastern reaches of Brazil. If I knew the world would truly end on a specific day, I would book a flight to Salvador immediately, bringing along as many of my dance friends as possible, and we would join the throngs of partying Bahians in the cobbled streets of the old city, the Pelourinho – because of course Brazilians would quite naturally respond to the end of the world – as with any event – by dancing, making music, singing!
I’m sure the drum group Olodum (who performed on Paul Simon’s Rhythm of the Saints and in Michael Jackson’s video They Don’t Care About Us) would be leading the crowd in thunderous samba reggae rhythms and the very walls – those gorgeous pastel-shaded 16th century colonial buildings and churches – would be throbbing with the beat. Colorful costumes would abound and the gorgeous Afro-Brasilian inhabitants would be brilliantly decked out as revered Orixas, the spirits of the Candomble religion brought to the New World with African slaves so long ago... Oxala, the father of mankind, Ogum, god of war, and my personal favorite, Yemanja, goddess of the sea, rivers and lakes.

Following Yemanja’s lead, we would all find ourselves, finally, at the ocean’s edge. Brightly painted boats of every size and condition would be filled with flowers and launched, exhausted dancers splashing into the embracing surf alongside. Holding hands with old and new friends, strangers alike, we would greet the end of the world amid light, music, beauty and love. Axe’ !!
Your friendly travel expert and world dancer,
Sherry Howland


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