What on Earth?

Saturday March 16, 2013

Those of you who follow this column know that it tends to focus on politics and issues of the day that have statewide relevance. Today is different. When other-worldly, celestial events occur, or are about to occur in this fantastic little state, there is an obligation to inform the citizenry. I mean, you would want to know if we were about to be hit by a huge meteor, right? Oh, sorry about the no warning of the rock that blew into Russia.

However, today faithful reader, you should consider yourself forewarned and plan a course of action accordingly.

According to Wikipedia an aurora is defined as follows; "A natural light display in the sky particularly in the high latitude (Arctic and Antarctic) regions, caused by the collision of energetic charged particles with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere (thermosphere). The charged particles originate in the magnetosphere and solar wind and, on Earth, are directed by the Earth's magnetic field into the atmosphere."

According to Webster's Dictionary the word "dance" is as an intransitive verb defined as: "to move or seem to move up and down or about in a quick or lively manner."

According to Webster's Dictionary the word "party" as a noun is defined as; "a social gathering; also : the entertainment provided for it".

According to Jim Woodward and Michelle Hogan if you string these three words together you get "Spacefunk."

OK, so what the heck are we talking about here? How does a "natural light display" and people "moving or seem to move up and down or about in a quick or lively manner" equate with (or is it "to") Spacefunk? Better yet, what on earth IS Spacefunk?

Things happen for a reason. In the case of Bennington's "Aurora Dance Party" the reason is the aforementioned Jim Woodward and Michelle Hogan. For reasons the universe has never been able to decipher these two human beings (or at least they pretend to be human beings, but some of us are not sure that this title would hold up under close scrutiny and military testing) have taken it upon themselves to entertain people.

For the past few years, right around the time the tulips appear, the Aurora Dance Party hits southern Vermont. Folks, this ain't your average barn dance. As a matter of fact it might not even be possible to describe what this is in only 850 words, but let's try.

Think of a night club. Now think of THE most incredible night club you've ever been to. Now, think of that club on steroids and you are close, but not completely creating the image of the Aurora Dance Party. The following are adjectives that I would use to describe this now annual event sponsored by the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce:

* Exciting

* Interesting

* Loud

* Fun

* Strange

* Weird

* Very weird

* Exhausting

* Hyper-unusual

Do we have your attention yet? The Aurora Dance Party, to the best of my knowledge, has never been held in the same place twice. It appeared in an old, empty mill building in North Bennington one year. Then one year appeared in an empty store on Main Street. It happened at the vacated CB Sports building on North Street.

This year it will be held at the AirNow Hanger at the William Morse Airport on Walloomsac Road in Bennington. Why an airport hanger? Who knows? Perhaps it adds to the "Spacefunk" theme; or maybe it was the only cool building available. It doesn't matter. The only way to solve the mysteries of the Aurora Dance Party is to attend.

In years past we've witnessed a lot of really great live music followed by DJ Jimmy who cranks up the crowd. Where else might you see a live transvestite hair solon or an impromptu conga line that leaves the building and clogs up Main Sreet (sorry officers).

The reason this party draws hundreds of people is because even if you've attended every one of the past events there is one thing you can always count on; no two are the same. Things happen at this most exciting and interesting event that just don't happen anywhere else. And it only happens one day per year; if you miss it, too bad. This club ain't open again next weekend, so just don't miss it.

This year's special musical guest will be "Funk in the Trunk," who will also be appearing at the incredibly popular Basement Music Series in North Bennington on June 8. The Aurora Dance Party starts at 8:00 or whenever the galactic gods decide it's time, and goes until well, until everyone's been beamed up.

I speak from experience when I say that Bennington has a corner on the arts and entertainment market. There is more great music and artistic events happening in this border town than anywhere else in Vermont. But don't take my word for it. Go into that storage closet, pull out and dust off that old spacesuit and fly down to the William Morse Airport on April 27. Go like the Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/auroradanceparty

You won't recognize me, but I'll see you there!

Bob Stannard lives in Manchester.


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