What a fantastic way to start a new year! Faintly reminiscent of my 'Beer-commercial Weekend' with my friend Corey way back in the early 1990s, in that wow-that-was-amazing sort of way.
I was booked to perform at the New Year's event held in Bechoko, a First Nations town about 100km outside Yellowknife, NWT. Not quite the Arctic Circle, but not far off. I'd been looking forward to it for a year (they tried to book me twice last year but each time our schedules conflicted); I'd never been that far north before. Not even Shetland was quite that far up - Muckle Flugga sits at 60.85 degrees North but Bechoko is a full 2 degrees higher.
There were a few hiccups to the evening that didn't bode well but when I finally got up to perform for the 200-ish people, they blew me away. What an absolutely fantastic welcome and response! They were attentive, generous with applause, supportive of the volunteers that got up to help, lively and overall one of the best audiences I've had in a long time. I could happily have packed them up in a bus and brought them with me to every gig I have for the next year. This was one of the first times since we left Orkney over five years ago that I've felt that sort of community spirit.
And that was just the start. After the stand-up show I was doing close-up magic around the tables but kept getting interrupted. Dragged onto the dance floor to exercise my dismal two-stepping skills, taken outside to watch the fireworks after midnight, and eventually waved over to join in the celebratory circle dance - nearly a dozen drummers pounding away and singing, with almost every single person in the hall swept up in a cheerful circling mass of humanity. Not the kind of thing I (as an outsider) would normally inject myself into, but when they start beckoning you to join in, well, you do! And I was glad I did.
WMF Oliver Eduard Bahm
1 week ago