Cuatro de Julio 7/4/15
I have known for some time now that this article would be different than my normal articles. It would be a deviation – a change – from the normal type of gonzo journalism we strive to write here at TD2BD. I knew that writing this final article on Cinco/Quatro would be difficult. I have hoped that it will be, like the block party itself, the best of them all. I would like this to be my final word on it.
This world is changing. We are changing. We have been for some time now and it shows within our community. Cinco de High-Yo 2013 was a turning point in my life. It was the tipping point for change within my tiny universe. It was the first event that Sweet T and I covered for TD2BD. It was, as such, the first time that I met many people in the Philadelphia community, and most of the members of our website as well. Cinco 2013 was the impetus for change that has brought us to where we all are now. I am where I am right now because of that block party two years ago.
The past has a funny way of making us sad while also making us hopeful. A sort of wistful nostalgia. That other person I was two years ago has learned much about the City of Brotherly Love in the time in between. Not all of it has been pleasant, not all of it has been bad. Maybe the most poignant thing I’ve learned has to do with the spirit of togetherness. Community. You can say what you want about the city but you cannot disparage the feeling of unity within various realms.
At CDHY in 2013 I was welcomed into this Philly microcosm for the first time. I had been to the city hundreds of times, but only as a tourist. That block party was my first glimpse of Philly as an insider; it was like seeing the city for the first time. The most striking thing about the event then was the overwhelming sense of being welcome in this strange, foreign land. I was different from everyone because I was plain, normal. I do not have a Mohawk. I do not wear a studded belt or sleeveless jean jacket with patches. I have never been on a motorcycle. I do not have a single tattoo or piercing. I was the odd-man-out because I was the normal odd-man-out, not because I was the odd odd-man-out.
And yet everyone treated us with respect, and like we were equals even though no one knew Sweet T and I. Even though we were clearly not part of this particular scene. Even though we were from New Jersey. Rory Cain and the former High-Five said “Welcome, join us. Come see what you’ve been missing,”
In 2014 the block party was moved to July 4th weekend, and the party became a celebration of our freedom to be ourselves. The freedom to keep doing what we had been doing; a community with momentum, a totally unstoppable force. Rory had overcome delays and myriad technical issues tremendously, and we were able to once again rock together for our freedom.
And then, yet another year passed. A tumultuous year. A year of riots, and racial tensions, and calls for sexual equality. A year of decriminalization and gay-marriage legislation. Things have been changing, quickly. As time has changed, so too has Cinco (even the name has changed). Like the block party itself, we have begun to change, together, for the better. As a counterculture we are embracing the change ahead of us.
This past Independence day, The Grateful Dead played their final show. In doing so, they concluded an era fueled by the spirit of equality and community through expansion of the mind and heart. I firmly believe that the generation we are a part of now holds these similar ideals. We have reopened a book that the powers-that-be have spent the last fifty years trying to close. As the Dead closed the book on their generation’s ideals, so too have we ended a chapter within our own generation’s book. We have reached a point of change, and this final Cinco helped to usher in a new period within this era. The end of this block party is the end of its own era, perhaps.
On July 4th we watched on in joy and spirited togetherness as the members of this new generation of musical enlightenment and social progress took a swing at knocking down the boundaries of the last fifty years for a single afternoon. The last two years have shown me that there is no real boundary outside of that which we allow. This event has remained a place where people of all walks of life were able to come together to celebrate our freedom. In a world where the love has not been entirely brotherly as of late, watching our tiny little microcosm swell and jive in perfect unity gave my heart a much needed jolt, and helped me to remember that maybe we aren’t so far gone that we can’t change, together.
The bottom line:
Cinco de High-Yo/Quatro de Julio has remained at the Forefront of race and gender equality, and this final year was no different. In fact, it may have been the best embodiment of that sentiment yet. As we say goodbye to this part of our lives, and move towards positive change together, this block party will be etched in our minds as a linchpin of that change. Maybe even the precipitator of it. That’s what this block party has stood for. That’s what our participation in this event has meant. Change. No matter what happens in our future, we can hold the memory of this event in our hearts as an anchor to a time before the winds of change had blown us to our separate, ash-scattered corners of this world. As we move forward towards what comes next, let us try to remember what we’re fighting for, and what we were able to gain by having been a part of this block party’s history. Four separate times, people of all races and sexes were able to get fucked up together under the same unforgiving sun and sky without killing or hurting each other. What we are striving for is a future where every day is Cinco/Quatro.
“Today I learned what America is all about. It’s about trying your hardest. It’s about never giving up. It’s about freedom. The freedom to make mistakes,” – The Wild Crow, Cuatro de Julio, 2015
Last Year’s Write Up: http://drinkingtobedone.com/cinco-de-high-yo-2014/