Friday, July 2, 2010

Black Days White Night

Happy chassid graffiti Florentin, White Night

There's an astute line in a Hebrew song that could be translated as, "The worse our fate, the more we celebrate." Indeed  as the last vestiges of Israel's international standing crumble before our eyes, as tens of thousands march through the country in solidarity with the Shalit family, as rumours of "a war in the summer" refuse to dissipate in the increasingly humid air ... it must be time for a street party!

White Night 2010, an all night arts festival ,covers the whole lit up city in hundreds of venues. We stayed reasonaly close the Rooftop starting out in the grubby streets of South Tel Aviv, south of Allenby. Here, the art exhibits had been craftily placed  in  unlikely locations leaving you with a question of whether life imitated art or..

Not part of the official programme : a singer performs in a Bucharian restaurant, Florentin

Also not an official art exhibit , a greengrocers featuring Rabbi Nahman from Breslav communing with the Creator amidst the fruit and veg.

No, not an ironic recreation of a hopelessly old fashioned window display. The real thing. Derekh Yaffo.

On dilapidated Hagdud Ha-Ivri (Hebrew Battalion) Street, which seems to be emerging as a hip place for young people, we stopped to catch a cold beer sold out of someone's house and watch a street fashion parade put on by the local residents.  The refreshing thing about the show was that the "models" all lived in the neighbourhood. Here they are lining up.

And here they are lapping up the attention on the catwalk, a strech of red carpet laid out on the pavement. The clothes were donated (I guess) by the Tel Aviv designers mentioned by the enthusiastic mistress of ceremonies. Many of the designers' studios are located in the Gan Hachasmal (Electric Garden) complex a few blocks away. After the show, they paraded through the streets blowing whistles.

On the way we noticed a video art film in the display window of a bathroom fixtures shop. Called Independence Day, it showed a day in the life of the Latrun artillery museum, effectively addressing the fascination of Israeli society with the military.

Music outside a restaurant on Yehuda Halevi and on street corners everywhere, in squares, on the beach. In the course of an hour we covered three exhibitions, one fashion show, one shira be-tzibur (Community singalong) in a synagogue! In our defense we stayed because of the free food - excellent couscous with meatballs. Rothschild Boulevard, its Bauhaus buildings illuminated for the occasion, was jam-packed.

In Bialik Square we were promised a night of eclectic black music but instead found several thousand people too many for comfort and a white band. Feet aching. Time to head back home.

On the way, well after midnight, the party was in full swing: a young band plays jazz/funk on Nahalat Binyamin.

It was a night that reminds you why you love Tel Aviv.  It was a night that made me forget that earlier that afternoon I'd received an automatic voice message telling me that my gas mask was waiting for me and that I should make arrangments to pick it up.

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