Saturday, September 6, 2014

Miss Samoa Parade – by Gary

We arrived in Apia, Samoa just in time for the Teuila Festival 2014.  This annual festival is similar to the one we saw in 'Tahiti; i.e. a celebration of Samoan culture, traditional and contemporary, with dancing, singing, comedy, fashion, tattooing, canoe races and much more.  Samoan culture, as depicted in the festival,  is conservative and devoutly Christian.  Yet notwithstanding, the performers and audiences often delighted in not taking life or themselves too seriously; their earthy, raucous sense of humour was a joy to experience and join in with.

We saw lots of great performances too, including Fire Knife Dancing!  It's apparently of genuine Samoan origin, but now spread across the globe.  A 'knife' with burning ends is twirled and juggled at high speed.  It's a revival of an ancient celebratory dance performed by victorious warriors.  The Samoan war blade has a hook on the end and a chap we were sitting next to told us the grizzly tale of victors wielding the severed heads of the vanquished upon these hooks, setting the hair alight and twirling.  Oooh!

Performing the Fire Knife Dance – it's spectacular.

Another great traditional dance form, the Samoan Slap Dance, where blokes rhythmically slap various parts of their bodies at great speed.  Allegedly the dance owes its origin to the introduction of mosquitoes!  Check out those tats.

Naturally I take the broader Western view that that dances and scanty costumes such as seen in the Slap Dance are somewhat offensive, reenforcing the idea that young men should be valued primarily because of their their physical attributes. We men have no wish to be objectified... do we!!????

But moving right along, one rather unique and special event of the Teuila Festival is the Miss Samoa Parade.  I thought it was a blast.

This is the parade marshaling area.  Its early morning and contestants and their entourages are milling about anxiously.  Each contestant is to be born upon a suitable chariot – a suped up, turbocharged, exhaust modified gas guzzler.

The police band is there as well.  Their job is to lead the parade – scheduled to arrive at the main stage venue a couple of kilometres away at 8:45am.  It is past 9am at this stage, and well, they still haven't left.  Island time!

The poor girls are wilting under the equatorial sun!  A considerate organizer brings some chairs in.

But the cops seem fairly relaxed about the delay.

Eventually word mysteriously filters down that its time to form up – and off they go!

Down past the old Protestant church, the bandmaster struts his stuff.

Trailing behind is a little warrior protection...

….along with the Police Chief and a gang of Harley riding thugs...

… and of course those girls on their chariots, still closely guarded by their village entourages!

 ... who finally make it to the venue for the first round of judging (I 'm pretty sure its all based on IQ now).
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