Theme Park Ride—Rainbow Rollercoaster!
This Labor Day weekend will be the 23rd Sundance Benefit. The history of Sundance has been told over and over in these pages, and will be again, I’m quite sure.
Now, maybe it’s because of this heat wave and my languid state of mind, but another dry CAMP history lesson just seems too much to bear, and I’m drawn, instead, back to the elements that I love the most—design and, of course, theme.
The theme of Sundance has been my realm since the beginning, so depending on one’s point of view, I’m responsible, or to blame, for the fanciful themes that we’ve used over the years.
In the early years, the Sundance itself was, for the most part, the theme. Starting in 1994, however, the event became, in my mind, the rainbow party, and since then every theme has contained the word “rainbow”—though in actuality, the first time I used it was for Sundance 91: Rainbow in the Sun.
In 1995 the theme was Rainbow VIII – A Time to Dance, and all the graphics were accompanied by this little verse:
and random rays of sun
dance across the grey sky
and wrap the world
in a coat of many colors
“It is time”
Whispers the moon,
“yes, it is time.”
The following year, Sundance 96 was Rainbow Rites: Invocation to Dance. It too included a verse that has remained, over the years, one of my favorites:
all you who dance
awaken, rise, and listen
to the sound of the heart
invoke the spirit of
the living dance
rainbow rites of passage
herald of autumn’s bounty
a gathering of the clans
gather the living
and the spirit heart of the dead
for now has issued forth
the invocation to dance
As the ‘90s drew to a close there followed: Sundance 97: Rainbow Revival (Jump, Shout, Hallelujah, Jubilation in the House); Sundance 98: Rainbow XI: Colors of Life; and Sundance 99: Rainbow Renaissance. Rainbow Revival, by the way, was the year we created the Sundance “church” fans to keep cool with while dancing. Remember those? I’ve still got a few in the Sundance archives in my attic—though we had to use some of them during the Rehoboth summer heat wave blackouts a couple of years ago.
As the new millennium dawned, so did some of my favorite themes: Sundance 2000: Super Duper Ultra Iridescent Rainbow Revolution; Sundance 2001: Divine Order of the Wings of the Cosmic Rainbow; and Sundance 2002: In the Celestial Circle of the Sunburst Rainbow.
The first Sundance was a tenth anniversary party for Steve and me; by 2003 we were celebrating our twenty-fifth anniversary, so that year’s theme was a nod to both with Sundance 2003: Heartbeat of the Silver Rainbow.
In 2004, we were back with Sundance 2004: The Radiant Rite of the Rainbow Revelation, followed by: Sundance 2005: The Unspeakable Joy of the Razzle Dazzle Rainbow Show; Sundance 2006: The Big Bang Supernova Popheart Rainbow; and Sundance 2007: The Fantastic Voyage of the Starship Rainbow.
As the decade ended, we danced to Sundance 2008: The Great Day of the Sunshine Rainbow and Sundance 2009: Dawn of the Electric Rainbow Sun.
Last week in this column I wrote about this year’s theme Sundance 2010: Rainbow Rites 23 – Tribal Revival. Compared to many of its predecessors, it’s relatively simple and reuses some of my favorite elements from the past. The “Invocation to Dance” piece printed on this page still works well with Tribal Revival.
I can’t explain it, but somehow over the years, Sundance and its themes have been woven into the tapestry of my life. On the one hand they are nothing but themes for a party, on the other they speak volumes about wonder, and mystery, joy, and the life sustaining hope that comes with the expectation of each new sunrise—each new day. They are about the ceremonial celebration that comes with the passage of each summer season, and the lives and friendships that are a part of it.
Perhaps it is because Sundance grew out of such a time of desperate darkness, that it feels like an epic journey to me—and it has never been a easy thing to do. In the early years, in fact, I clearly remember many times during the preparation for the event that I would swear that I would never do it again. In truth, the whole thing almost ended in its third year, but somehow we found the strength to persevere.
Hard as it’s been to do all these years, Sundance has never been a chore. I attribute that to the amazing people who gather each year to make it happen—both the financial supporters and our awesome volunteers.
We may do Love on the July 4th weekend, but Sundance too has always been about the heart. Though I’ve never used them for anything, back about the time Sundance first became “the rainbow party” I wrote these words:
what color is the heart beating?
what color is the bleeding heart?
red heart, open heart
what color is the joyful heart?
orange heart, scarlet heart, kiss-me-in-the-morning heart
what color is the frightened heart?
yellow heart, golden heart, tight heart, bright heart
what color in the jealous heart?
green heart, pea-green-with-envy heart, ripe heart, fertile heart
what color is the cool heart?
cold heart, ice blue frozen-in-the-snow heart, melancholy baby heart
what color is the brave heart?
purple heart, medal of honor, save me heart
what color is the heart beating?
For me, the heart and the rainbow are perfect companions. We use the rainbow to represent the equality of the diverse nature of our human community. We cannot live fully into a world of equality without having hearts equal to the task. Love is the key to everything, and that, my friends is the greatest theme of them all.
Murray Archibald, Founder and President of the Board of Directors of CAMP Rehoboth, is an artist in Rehoboth Beach.