Monday, September 8, 2014

The Dancers

Blues on the Bridge was held again yesterday, on a beautiful late summer Sunday.  This is the 13th year this festival has been held in downtown Binghamton, New York.  There always seems to be a special story surrounding it.

For example:
September 25, 2011.  Still recovering from massive flooding two weeks earlier (generators were needed to power the electrical instruments), downtown Binghamton threw a party for itself.  Even floods could not destroy what had become a Sunday after Labor Day tradition.

This year's Blues had a special story I didn't learn about until today.  I'll tell it a little later.
This is the bridge the festival used to be held on, the historic South Washington Street Bridge.  But the festival, free and open to the public thanks to sponsors and donations, long ago outgrew that bridge.

Here's another view of the downtown side of that bridge, now closed to vehicular traffic. Our beautiful hills are in the background.
So it is held on another, nearby bridge, but no one cares, least of all the Blues Brothers.

Near to the concert, two rivers, the Chenango and the Susquehanna, converge.  This picture was taken from the South Washington Street Bridge.  Hard to believe a small city downtown is just a few feet away from this natural beauty.
Concert goers enjoyed the afternoon.
Here, one of the opening acts entertains the crowd, which builds through the day.  And somewhere in this crowd, there was a poignant story, the story I promised to tell.

There are some couples that show up at some of the free music festivals and dance near the stage.  Some appear year after year. This year, we saw a new couple.  The woman had a beautiful head of silver hair.  She danced with an elderly man, coming close and coming apart.  When they came apart, though, it seemed like the man was lost. He just stood there, shuffling their feet.

I read their story today.  This couple, married 53 years, dance several times a week.  Interviewed for our local paper, I find out why they dance.

Her husband has Alzheimer's.  They dance so he can remain active.

 “We need more of this,” the woman said of the festival. “To bring the people together. Because when you’re in a group like this, everybody talks to everybody, they say hello to everybody else.”

Binghamton may seem like a beautiful place in these photos. It can be in places, but it also has a lot of problems not uncommon to "rust belt" cities. High unemployment.  Lots of vacant buildings.   I don't like to dwell on the negatives in this blog, though, because there are also so many positives about the Binghamton area.

For one afternoon, those problems were forgotten by thousands of people, all dancing, eating, rocking out, and just having a good time listening to music ranging from blues to Americana to classic rock.

And the loving couple danced on.


  1. How fortunate Binghamton is to have you honor it so well. Love music festivals and dancing. What a positive way to deal with Alzheimer's - to dance!

    Recently I watched the movie "Iris" about Iris Murdock, a famous author who completed her life with Alzheimer's. It is a great Sunday afternoon love story. I am so happy I watched it. I imagine you would enjoy it too!

  2. Alana, love this post: both the story and the photos. Thanks for sharing! This reminds of an elderly couple in my neighbourhood who I used to see dance every Sunday summer afternoon to live bands. No one else may have, but they always did. I missed them when I no longer saw them dancing. I have since seen this woman and wonder about their story. I, too, imagine that they have been married many years and perhaps deals with a health issue and/or danced to keep themselves young. No matter it was a joy to watch them. :) <3

  3. mentioned right, dwelling on negativity brings nothing. ...a day full of positivism is capable of bringing hope around...loved the post and the pictures.

  4. I was waiting for the story and loved reading about it...

    Random Thoughts Naba...

  5. The pictures and your commentary are great, Alana. It seems so interesting. But what got my attention was that couple. What a wonderful thing for the man to still experience! Thank you for sharing.


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