alaska folk fest

Alaska Folk Fest 41 :: Dance Yrself Clean

I first learned about the whiskey cleanse at a Sandy Beach bonfire, past the pump house, where there used to be a carpet of pottery and numerous Ruins still remain.

The Whiskey Cleanse can only be properly done at the Alaska Folk Festival, as no other event in Juneau brings together such powerful & wild energies without tourists and their bunker-oil burning ships, which pollute the downtown & make it inhospitable to drifting Fairy Folk Strangers.

TWC is a fast of reckless indulgence. The week of Fest is devoted to Doing Too Much, climbing mountains to cabins with instruments, flying across downtown dance floors, eating sumptuous feasts, in general celebrating that tho’ termination dust creeps almost to the top of downtown’s buildings, it’s bright again, life is good, another Spring is here.

The Fest best for children, who pay no mind to the numerous ghosts who attend.

Properly done, this indulgence, lubricated by large amounts of whiskey, leavened by beer, mixed by constant clambering up and down stairs, combines with the fresh salt air & constant, wild dancing to allow living human creatures to temporarily escape the silly clocks and stiff march of society.

To temporarily share, with a dancefloor, love.

Not so much whiskey as to stupefy, mind, and only enough beer as to wet a mouth. Drink tea constantly, tea until the bathroom becomes monotony, until your bladder swells out like your stomach and Juneau reduces to a series of slopes & raindrops, dance floors & indulgence & ceaseless folk music, until crowds inspire each other across ballroom so big as to be lonely unused; crowded to bursting with ceaseless reels, never big enough, no matter how you stack the tables.

The dances always end with a waltz that Juneau children learn as infants bouncing in parents’ arms. It has many varieties and parts and is the best way to tell someone you love them.

Enough whiskey to enliven. Enough that by Thursday or Friday, with the constant rain, and the tea pouring through you, and if possible several hot baths listening to drizzle on wet ground outside, and Raven laughing, the air so fresh, everything that is not rich and full of life is expelled as waste in quick, foetid gushes, until even the gushes cease and you subsist only on whiskey and pancakes and dancing alone.

At this point, with the aid of good partners, the serious work of flying can begin.

When the dance floors downtown start to tug into the pilings, a great ocean energy comes up. We imperfect and sinful vessels are typically too earth-bound to feel this energy, to be happy and well and fly. But it is a miracle how with discipline & rigor & whiskey the Alaskan Hotel’s dance floor can be set to bounce off its moorings and sail down the channel, to pull a wake like a floatplane and rise to the sky.

Then, even ghosts put aside tired cares and dance alongside, happy to be free.