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Shall We Dance? Print-ready version

Berkeley Barb
September 19, 1969
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Shall We Dance?

When we arrived at Big Sur last Saturday, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young were ending the show for the day.

Before Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young went on, one of the hysterical crazies who have been haunting festivals throughout the land made such a commotion that the performance was held up until he could be calmed. Steve Stills tried to talk to him, but the crazy apparently got Steve on his trip and a fist fight ensued. It took a while to get things together again, perhaps especially so because the Festival was a benefit for the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence.

Despite the hang-up, C, S, N & Y really got it on, and seemed to be what the crowd was waiting for.

When the concert ended for the day, the festival migrated ten miles south to Sand Dollar Beach, where everyone camped for the night. More than ten thousand people sat around myriad campfires singing, talking or just grooving the unexpectedly warm night.

On Sunday, something was wrong most of the day. The audience was seemingly uninterested in most of the performers. Perhaps this was due to the poor spacing of performers. For example, there were four or five female folkers of the same genre as Joan Baez who preceded her. She of course, outshone them all, but the crowd was too sated to fully appreciate her really fine performance. She was together in spite of the negativity in the crowd which had been building all day. Ignoring the crowd, the two numbers she did from The Band's "Music From Big Pink" really knocked me out. "Tears of Rage", and "I Shall Be Released" were really done right all the way through.

After Baez, the vibes got progressively worse, and very strange. Everyone there seemed to be able to see through each other's games and disguises, and seemed to be too tired to keep up the morale of illusion. Part of it was most likely due to fatigue from the long week-end, part due to too much booze & dope in the hot sun, part due to lack of unified feeling. Overheard from the people around me were: "I don't even know who's playing anymore, do you?" The same chick, after a short pause: "I don't really care, do you?" The rest of her party shook their heads.

Joni Mitchell finished her set with "Come on people, now smile on your brother, everybody get together, love one another right now." Very few people got off on that one, it seemed to be too much trouble to love when it was so hot, etc. The super-hip but carefully respectable couple on the other side of me were discussing the situation and decided that it was pretty hard to feel unified with that thing over there, then launched into an analysis of passer-by, which ended with: "I don't know, you and I both project a lot. Maybe you project and I project, and reality lies somewhere between."

People actually looked happier going back to their cars, on their way home. Now they could assume their individual identities, and be free from the demands of the long dead love generation.

SHALL WE DANCE?

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