Bloomington, Indiana plays proud host to one of the most dynamic and diverse cultural and music festivals in the United States. Drawing on artists from nearly every continent, Indiana University, in conjunction with local cultural organizations and the City of Bloomington, sponsors a four-day weekend of music, entertainment, and international food-fare which draws hundreds if not thousands from all parts of the world and from the Indiana University system.
Despite unseasonably cool temperatures and a forecast calling for large quantities of rain, participants in this year’s Lotus Festival ventured the streets and venues of downtown Bloomington with umbrellas, outdoor gear, and makeshift rain ponchos. The damp weather did not hinder the spirit and vitality of the festival nor did it diminish the quality of artistic performances for which the celebration is known. Among the highlights of this September’s Lotus Festival was Los de Abajo, a reggae/rock/salsa ensemble from Mexico City. Although the group maintains a Che-like political outlook, attempting to draw attention to the downtrodden and underrepresented of the Latin World, Los de Abajo nonetheless put a little picante in the steps of both young and old. It would be Abjofondo, however, that would steal the show with fast-paced Tango put to shining Euro-tech with elements of rap, rock, and Polka. Abajofondo, a composition of artists from Uruguay and Argentina, not only bridged the gap between the two South American nations but also the gap between traditional and contemporary forms of music. Drawing a group numbering in the hundreds packed into a small tent off Kirkwood Avenue, Abajofondo turned an otherwise dreary Saturday evening into the premier dance party of the season. With each spin of the turntable accompanied by bursts of flashing lights, the crowd screamed for more, pulsating to the intensely stylish beats pouring from the stage.
West European Studies was proud to contribute to a host of artists from the Continent and Isles. Among these were Cara Dillon, a folk-lyricist from the Republic of Ireland, and Väsen, a collection of talented gentlemen with a modern twist on traditional Swedish rythms. Both groups were well received, drawing a wonderful audience which paid special attention to each group’s instrumental and vocal talents. For Bloomington’s residents, the student population, and visitors from surrounding states and neighboring nations alike, the Lotus Festival allowed a few cherished hours to relish in the multiplicity of culture to be found in the world and appreciate the Bloomington area for its ability to continue to enrich the lives and stretch the imaginations of those who pass through. The Lotus Festival is highly recommended and, in the future, should not be missed.
– WEST MA Student Luke Wood