In 1982, the French Minister of Culture Jack Lang along with his team dreamed about gathering people from different ages and backgrounds together in the streets and public spaces of Paris to Celebrate music. As a result, “La fete de la musique,” which translates to “The Music Festival” in English, was born.
Since then, it became an international event celebrated on June 21 in more than 750 cities in 120 countries, including Australia, Japan, China, Russia, Algeria, Lebanon, Ivory Coast, Germany, Italy, Greece, Peru, Brazil, Ecuador, Mexico, United States of America, and Canada. In Lebanon, “La fete de la musique” started several years ago and it’s becoming more popular year after year.
However, this year I was introduced to it by accident. While I was climbing the St Nicholas stairs in Ashrafieh with my friends, we noticed bar stands all along the steps, and at the end, there was a small stage where a reggae band that was playing their music passionately. The street was full of people instead of cars; we didn’t know what was happening. Then, a volunteer in the event approached us and gave us the event’s brochures. He said:” This is the schedule! Enjoy this day of music!”
I opened up that brochure and found out that music was playing in different parts of Beirut simultaneously that night. I was excited about it since coming across great events by mistake doesn’t happen every day. So, my friends and I decided to check out the bands and artists playing that evening. In Gemmayze street, we listened to different genres of music being played such as; pop, indie, acoustic among other types. One, 12 years old artist singing Michael Jackson songs caught my attention; he seemed so confident and skilled. What caught my attention, even more, was the fact that the audience was not the same age as him. In fact, two old women were filming him and started dancing along with him. We then continued to Radio Beirut, a well-known pub in Mar Mikhael, since we heard that there is a larger stage with more performers there.
The Armenian Street seemed cozier than ever since there were no cars and only chairs and tables along the sidewalks crowded with people could be noticed. Everyone was enjoying the music in their way. We formed a small circle, and we danced altogether. On our left, there was an Indian worker who was standing alone and looking at us, so we invited him to join us. He immediately joined us, and we started to mimic his dance moves. After a while, a street kid went to the stage in front of the DJ set and started dancing with the roses that he usually sells. Everyone was cheering him on. Meanwhile, a couple to our right were dancing with another street kid.
A few minutes later, our small circle turned into one large circle of diverse people from different backgrounds dancing happily regardless of all the differences. This experience showed me the power of music and how it can create solidarity among the various people by breaking the boundaries and connecting them to one another. As Henry Wadsworth Longfellow once said, “music is the universal language of mankind.”
Written by Gloria Tauk, a current intern at the WYA Middle East office.