An update from Ali, a senior dance major and elementary education minor:
Sunday morning is usually a sit on the couch in pajamas and drink three cups of coffee before throwing on some comfy clothes kind of morning. This past Sunday, however, began with standing at the front of a line for three hours in 49 degree, rainy weather outside the park hosting the Jubilee Festival during the River Pageant in celebration of Her Majesty the Queen’s 60th year of reign.
While we may not have been pleased with waking up at 6 am on a weekend and sitting in line, it was a necessary task in order to experience the pomp and elegance that the British do best. Maybe it was the little amount of sleep, the possibility of seeing Wills and Kate, or maybe it was the pure excitement knowing we would be a part of British history, but the 16 of us took to heart the saying “when in Rome.” We seem to have picked up a collective attempt at an English accent and are now experts at waiting in line, which the Brits affectionately refer to as “queuing up” (they also take these queues very seriously).
Once in the park, we were taken through the decades of the Queen’s reign through fashion, music, dance, food, and entertainment. Although the organized events were intriguing and fun, the best part of the day was watching and experiencing the excitement of the English. It almost made me jealous because I would never feel as strongly as they did about the significance of this celebration. The memories made in Battersea Park demonstrated how pride and love for one’s country can bring a nation together, just as the experience brought the 16 of us together. I will always remember the cold and rain, but more so the laughter and the culture we were a part of.
The festival organized in Battersea Park in celebration of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee was a once-in-a-lifetime celebration not to be missed. One of the highlights was celebrating the fashion and beauty through the eras of the Queen’s reign. There were fashion shows going on, awards given for best outfits, and historical makeovers being done — all in the rain! The people running the booths were dolled up in styles of the 1950s. People all over the park were styling red lipstick, curled hair, and A-line skirts to pay tribute to the fashion and beauty during the Queen’s coronation.
These workers not only were dressed up, but also were the ones making over the festivalgoers. Their parts as performers in the festival were both as characters and as technicians; they embodied the 1950s woman and used their skills to transform the rain-drenched participants into performers themselves! The audience in Battersea Park was the thousands of people who were lucky enough to get a ticket to the event before they were sold out.
There were many activities in the park that blurred the lines between audience and original performers. An example is the part of the festival when people were given ribbons for creative or best outfits. The Londoners, as audience, went all out with their patriotic clothing. Everything was red, white, and blue or the pattern of the Union Jack flag. The audience became performers who were given awards or just caught the attention of those of us who were less spirited.
Looking back on the experience, if the weather would have been more conducive to coiffed hair and a full face of makeup, it would have been amusing to be Betty Draper for an afternoon! But instead, I admired from afar and attempted to put the Queen’s length of reign into perspective and definitely made most of the celebration that was not drenched by the cold London rain.