Monday, November 22, 2004

The Anthropology of Doo Dah

In 1956 J. Clyde Mitchell wrote an influential essay on the Kalela Dance of Northern Rhodesia, in which native bands used public events and spaces to mock Black-White social relationships with music and dancing.

In 1974 the filmmakers Jerry W. Leach and Gary Kildea documented Trobriand Islanders use of cricket to both reinvent ritualized confrontation between indigenous groups and simultaneously mock colonial administrators and missionaries.

And for the past twenty-eight years, the City of Pasadena ritually mocks its own exalted Rose Parade with the annual Doo Dah Parade, which took place yesterday afternoon through the streets of Old Pasadena on Colorado Blvd. Some of the more famous acts include Leg-Go, the One-Legged Clown, the Hard Hat Brotherhood, the Spawn of Captain James T. Kirk, the Men of Leisure Synchronized Nap Team, Don King of Candy, the Toro Lawn Mower Drill Team and the Synchronized Briefcase Marching Team.

One of the many strange facts of the parade is the enactment of a No Tortilla ordinance in the city. From the recent Pasadena Weekly:

One bizarre turn over the years was the fact that parade participants and bystanders engaged in an escalating battle with flying tortillas. It started out innocently enough as a messy street nuisance, but when the tortillas were hardened in the heat one year, "people found themselves pelted and even hurt until the city passed a No Tortillas ordinance. Pasadena's one of only two cities in America to ban the tossing of tortillas in public.

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