Party, karamu, fiesta, forever

Great, now you probably have that Lionel Richie song stuck in your head, too.

Great, now you probably have that Lionel Richie song stuck in your head, too.

When Lionel Richie was at the top of his music-making game, there was one song that I both reviled and (secretly) adored: “All Night Long.” Maybe it was the catchy lyrics, Tam bo li de say de moi ya / Yeah jambo jumbo. Maybe it was the idea that around the next street corner there was a possibility of an impromptu dance party breaking out. Either way, it was a ridiculously silly song in my preteen view, but it did inspire me to dance my troubles away on more than one angst-ridden occasion.

Last Saturday, I was reminded of Richie’s call to dance when I took in the scene at the inaugural Midtown Modern Arts Festival on 20th Street between J and K streets. I entered the one-block venue along what seems to be the unofficial hub of the art, music, retail and food scene on the grid, the MARRS Building corridor, and found a troupe of young dancers leaping, prancing and contorting their bodies in unison as the street heaved with a crowd that consisted primarily of small kids, parents and tweens, all of whom appeared hungry for the variety of interactive art activities being thrown their way.

While the event was confined to a relatively small area, the festival boasted more than 15 performances from Sacramento-area performing-art organizations and artists. Representatives from the Sacramento Ballet, Capital Stage Company, the Gorilla Knitting Crew, B Street Theatre, the Sacramento Comedy Spot, the Bigger Than Us music company and more all came out in support of their various projects and one another.

The event exuded a decidedly spooky feel in keeping with the season, from company ballerinas promoting the Sacramento Ballet’s production of Dracula to the local producers of the film, Planet of the Vampire Women, who set up shop along the street offering vampire makeovers at $5 and $10 a pop.

Billed as one of the major events associated with Artober, the city’s month-long series of events and activities promoting the arts, the festival was yet another opportunity for the community to engage in and with the arts, according to the Midtown Business Association representatives, one of the event sponsors. With tables full of art supplies, glitter, sugar skull makings and musical performances and dancing in the street, the event was a fusion of music, performance and visual art that provided folks with a fun, hands-on experience with the creative process.

But while there were also artists on site, painting and discussing their work with an engaged audience, the real question is this: What Midtown festival would be complete without a horde of zombies?

Not to disappoint, a mob of the “undead” shuffled their way through the ghoulish anthem, “Thriller,” as the crowd roared in approval.

Yes, I was tempted to bust out my best impression of the zombified Michael Jackson along with the flash mob, but in the end, I refrained. Apparently, I’ve outgrown the fantasy of that spontaneous, yet inexplicably choreographed street dance party.

Leave it to the zombies, I say.