The Gilded Serpent presents...
Justine and Her Plant Visit
Saqra's Annual Showcase

by Justine

After three hours of dog training lessons on an incredible Oregon spring morning, I packed my gear and went to the Washington County fairgrounds in Hillsboro, Oregon for the annual Hardy Plant sale. As everyone who gardens in Oregon knows, the Hardy Plant Society sale is the ultimate spring gardening event. For years I have gone, picking up tough, cute plants to fill out my new garden. It’s a cool sale, involving people who actually speak the Latin names of plants, and know what they mean!

This year Saqras Dance Event was held right near to the back door of the plant sale. How convenient! I would just drop in and take a few pictures of my sister Christina and mother Delores dancing. Be in and out in an hour, Right?

Standing in the door, clutching my plants, vendor fever struck.

Last year I could walk through “all of that stuff” with hardly a glance. Since I started dancing six weeks ago, life has changed. What incredible fabrics, what fantastic beaded belt sets. Who can resist tribal jewelry? And the silk, the silk, I must have the silk, now! Practicing some vestige of self control, reminding myself I spent all my dog training money on plants, I moved toward the stage.

Walking, sidling through the crowded area, I saw, and heard the best sound possible. Americanistan is a local live dance band from Eugene whose spirited and enticing Middle Eastern music inspires dancers throughout the Northwest.

What an incredible sensory delight to see so many confident and accomplished dancers inspired by the sound of live drums. Juggling my big green Europhbia, I got out my camera and settled down to enjoy myself.

A live band is such a treat, watching the dancers and band interact with each other brings a belly dance event to life. Amazing to watch and hear the drummers adjust to each dancers needs and capabilities. I knew I was falling farther off the gardening wagon with the appearance of each new dancer. Last year I had gone to events, but missed the importance of live music.

I spent the digital space on my camera wildly, taking more shots than it could hold. Ignoring the cameras request for more bit space I just kept shooting. Several of the dancers I had seen dance before, but how much everyone had improved.

My mother Delores danced to a cheering crowd, and I could hardly focus the camera for my tears, she looked so happy and stately.

My plants became more and more of a burden as I moved around the crowded building. Feeling traitorous I abandoned them in a chair, hoping they would stay there. For added security I gave them a hand signal and a loud “stay” command, after all I am a dog trainer, I expect my plants to obey too.

Leaving the plants behind without a glance, I let the call of silk draw me across to the hand painted silks of Ladysilk, a vendor from Grants Pass, Oregon.

Silk is just so incredible, and hand painted silk is the most seductive object in the world. After much deliberation, and the discovery that I had indeed spent my money on plants and was reduced to begging among family and friends for a loan, I chose a lovely silk dress. Admittedly, I will wear it as a housedress and nightgown on my upcoming trip, but I may dance in the living room in it.

Several hours after I entered the event, I thought of my dogs waiting for me at home, and I did have some plants to place in holes in the ground. The camera informed me I had shot 90 pictures, and refused to do anymore. So it was time to go home. Now I only have to persuade the cats my new silk gown is not theirs to sleep on.

Saqra's Annual Showcase hosts over 200 dancers in a festival each April and is one of the biggest and most popular Middle Eastern dance events in the Pacific Northwest. Showcase 2004 is April 23-25 at Washington County Fairgrounds in Hillsboro, Oregon. Featuring workshops, vending, dancing and live music.

Saqra and volunteers

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