Tonight I performed my own personal Folklife tradition. It involves frantically hemming or altering some item of dance clothing to wear during the weekend. That's done (two skirts and a pair of jeans), though if my mother saw the workmanship, she'd disown me.
Friday is a wonderfully mellow day at Folklife -- the crowds don't materialize until Saturday afternoon -- and some excellent workshops and performances are scheduled:
- 2:30 p.m. - Ballard High School Jazz Band on the Mural Amphitheatre stage
- 3 p.m. - Sengalese rhythm workshop in the Rhythm Tent
- 7 p.m. - Arab dance party (DJs and live music) in the Center House Court (til 11 p.m.)
- 7 p.m. - Honky-Tonk and Hot Twang on the Northwest Court Stage (til 11 p.m.)
- 10 p.m. - Les Fabulous Girls Du Ouest Coast w/ David Kaynor calling New England contra dancing in the Roadhouse
Bring your drums, your dance shoes, and -- if you really want a great time at Folklife -- go up to Festival Services on the third floor of the Center House and volunteer to work a shift behind the scenes as a greeter or on an info booth team.
Friday night is also an ideal time to eat dinner at Folklife. The food vendors are chosen through a competitive juried process, and there is some outstanding ethnic and homestyle American food. My fave is the Kenyan Kitchen, but I'm hearing great things about Warthog Barbeque and La Jitana (Lebanese). And I know that somehow I'll end up at the strawberry shortcake stand.
If you are reluctant to come to Folkife during the weekend because of the crowds, try this "low stress" festival: Enter from 1st Ave North at Key Arena, turn left, and go up the stairs to the Northwest Court. The Northwest Court stage will be on your right; on your left, a building that features the Rainier Room performances, the Olympic Room workshops, and uncrowded bathrooms. At the back of the Northwest Court stage you'll find a beer garden. I know some folks who spend the whole weekend at this "mini festival."
Another way to enjoy a low-stress festival (and plenty of parking) is to arrive just as the stages open at 11 a.m. Check out some performances, have lunch, and head out as the crowds arrive at 2 p.m.
I'll be posting Folklife information all weekend. Feel free to send questions.