I have to tell you all about Shentai, this urban carnival I went to last weekend. My friend Wistar invited me along, since she is friends with many of the performers. So I knew going in that it's a collaborative effort of many of the young actors, dancers, artists and musicians of C'ville. In other words, Indie Strangefest 2007. But I figured (correctly!) that there would be cotton candy, so I agreed.
Sadly, I was still completely unprepared for the level of weirdness I was to encounter. We entered the staging area (a gutted and redecorated warehouse) to the sounds of a local band called Accordion Death Squad playing "An Unwelcome Overture." Then the MC popped out of trunk, looked out on the audience, and screamed in terror.
And it kept. Getting. Weirder.
The tap-dancing vampires got in a fight with the antelopes on stilts and the woman dressed in bubble wrap. Of course, all movement ceased as Queen Dido made her painstakingly slow, eerily silent way through the crowd. This signaled the beginning of the surrealist play about a woman falling in love with a squid ... or possibly suicide, I'm not sure. In another exhibit, I pretended to be a flamingo/whale with great success. Later we went to the peep show, and I saw Sacajawea's bosoms. I don't have the words to describe everything I saw. Oh, but I can sum up the finale in two: Fire Dancing.
It was amazing, and terrifying. Almost everybody in the show was twirling flaming poles about or slinging chains of fire through the air. I just sat there the entire time thinking, "we are all going to die." Luckily we made it out alive, and I staggered away in a shocked haze.
Wistar: What did you think?
Me: I just have one question ... do you think they found tap dancers and turned them into vampires, or taught vampires how to tap dance?
Wistar: Um ...
Me: Never mind, I've clearly gone mad. Please take me home now.
In short - I highly recommend seeing Shentai!