Fete de la Musique...continued
Emilie, Luke (but don’t say Luke, it’s more like Louk, because he’s French) and I left Patricia’s soiree to experience the outdoor concerts of Fete de la Musique, Paris.
We just met Luke at the soiree, but he wanted to join us for the evening. So when we got outside among the crowds and music, we just stood there. Emilie and Luke looked at me and asked which way we should go. I reminded them that they were both French and probably knew Paris better than I did. So Luke suggested we take the metro to the Bastille where there was sure to be a huge concert. Emile agreed, but suggested we walk instead to see everything on the way.
So we walked down rue de Rivoli, through all the small bands, solo DJ’s and guitarist concerts in the street. We walked thru the Marais, known for its gay population where everyone was obviously having a great time. There were men dancing with men, women dancing with women, old men dancing by themselves…I think I even saw a dog dancing with a cat! Maybe it was just chasing the cat, but it looked like they were even having a great time! The air was filled with music and the weather was a perfect summer night in Paris.
We stopped at the Place des Voges to listen to a small band play in one of the corners of the Place, then we continued towards the Bastille. All the while Emilie and I caught up on the 7 months since I had left Paris, and Luke spoke French to me, helping me with present tense and passé compose of the French verbs. French lessons, in the middle of the street during Fete de la Musique actually seem like fun and not so difficult after all.
Finally, we arrived at the Bastille, where we were met by the French riot police. As we approached the Bastille, the riot police were in a formation on our left. It was as if they were all on guard for bottles, rocks or other projectiles to be launched towards them at any moment. They had their shield up in front of their faces and their knees bent as they were ready for battle. Emilie and I looked at each other and agreed that they looked pretty silly standing as if they were in an imaginary riot situation. We laughed at them as we walked right past. Then I joking said to Emilie and Luke, “Hey, shouldn’t we be walking in the opposite direction and not towards their opposition?” We all laughed, because it did seem silly to walk towards the same direction all the police were facing, but we saw no danger, so why not continue towards the Bastille?
We crossed the street in front of them; Emilie and I took one more look behind us at their silly pose, laughed and kept walking with Luke.
No sooner than we crossed the street and finished laughing, there was one scream, loud, by a woman…or maybe a really, really, really scared gay man, but it was a high pitched long scream, followed by a crowd, the entire Bastille crowd running towards us like a stampede of bulls! Shocked, we turned around, I ran in a way that put me front and center ahead of the stampede, but from the corner of my eye I saw Emilie and Luke ran 90 degrees away from front and center of the crowd. So there I was running as if I were first place in the Bastille marathon, waiting for the crowd to run over me, then there was the sound of one gunshot. The same sound that started my nephews race in the New Mexico track and field completion. There were two men running in front of me and they both immediately covered their heads and ducked over to the side. I thought, as I saw Emilie and Luke running farther away from the crowd that I was going to get shot or get run over.
I wondered if the crowd ran me over was it going to hurt really bad? In a split second, I decide to run to the side and away from front and center of the mob towards Emilie and Luke. I thought I was going to get shot…either by the riot police or by someone in the crowd. Either way, I figured I was going to end the evening in the hospital or on the street. I even thought for a brief second about my medical coverage in Paris.
Emilie looked back and saw me, then Luke looked back and I caught up with them by almost turning around and running back towards the crowd, but off to the side, no longer in danger of getting run over by them. We ran back past the riot police who were prepared for the crowd. Why didn’t they warn us as we strolled past them laughing the first time?
We didn’t stop to ask, we just kept running, the three of us holding hands, running away from the crowd, away from the riot police and far away from the Bastille.
When we got to a quiet street and caught our breath, Emilie looked at me and said, “Wow, you run really well in high heels!” Then I asked, “Who’s idea was it to come to the Bastille?” Emilie and I looked and Luke and he started to run again.
We saw one more street concert on a quite boulevard and then we each caught the metro home, safely ending Fete de la Musique 2009.