Do It In The Dirt - The 2010 Waila Festival!
Date(s) - 13/11/2010 - 23/11/2010
10:00 am - 5:00 pm
201 S. Kinney Road,Tucson,Arizona
The Waila Festival is back after a two-year hiatus! This celebration of Tohono O’odham social dance music will take place at Old Tucson Studios on Saturday, November 13 from 5 pm to 10pm. The admission charge is $7.50 with children 12 and under admitted free.
What is Waila?
The O’odham word, “waila,” is derived from the Spanish word for dancing, “bailar.” The festival will feature music by the Sound of the Desert and Mario Bros. bands along with the Ge Oidak Fiddle Band performing repertoires to include polkas, schottisches, mazurkas and cumbias. Everyone is invited onto the dance floor to circulate in a counter-clockwise movement to this wonderful desert sound. This year’s festival location, the rodeo arena at Old Tucson Studios, features a dirt dance floor and harkens to days gone by.
How is it that a tribe of American Indians in the southern Arizona desert is found dancing to polkas and mazurkas?
In the mid-1800s, European settlers came to what is today’s borderland area bringing their accordions and dance music. About this time, missionaries intent on converting Tohono O’odham to Catholicism began teaching a few tribal members to play fiddle music for Mass. These fiddlers would eventually perform tunes they had heard from other cultures and a new social dance tradition began for the O’odham.
Later, as young O’odham were sent to government boarding schools in the early 1900s, many learned to play brass, woodwind and stringed instruments in the schools’ military-style marching bands. These instruments were eventually incorporated into waila bands.
The contemporary band line-up today frequently consists of a button accordion, saxophone, guitar, bass guitar and drums. Perhaps twenty-five waila bands perform on and near the Tohono O’odham Nation. Many have appeared at the twenty Waila Festivals which began in January 1989. The alcohol-free, family-oriented event has presented nearly 100 waila bands to a total audience of over 100,000.
The festival will include several food booths offering the ever-popular frybread with its various toppings as well as the more traditional foods of the Tohono O’odham. Hot dogs and hamburgers as well as sodas and bottled water also will be available.
Come on out and participate in a Tohono O’odham tradition. You’ll truly enjoy dancing in the desert dust —the time-honored O’odham version of “Dirty Dancing”— under an astonishingly gorgeous, star-filled black sky within a community of cactus and coyotes! Bring your lawn chairs and blankets if you wish. However, leave your video cameras and audio recorders at home because they will not be allowed
Waila Festival co-founders Angelo Joaquin Jr. and Karen Seger serve as director and assistant director, respectively. The event is presented by Waila Man Productions and is sponsored by Desert Diamond Casinos, the Arizona Historical Society, Old Tucson Studios and personal contributions. Contact Angelo Joaquin Jr. at email@example.com for more information.