The Yellow Days Festival
by Ophelie Lawson on October 03
Last weekend Safe place Greece’s members had the chance to participate at the Yellow days Festival, a new humanitarian festival concept with the aim of uniting refugees with local communities and humanitarian worldwide, through art food and music. Over the course of three days, we had the chance to participate in various workshops, listen to live music, enjoy healthy and exotic food, and meet artists from all over the world.
The Yellow days Festival was a celebration of diversity, of acceptance and a proof of peaceful coexistence. Held a bit outside of Athens centre in A school of Fine art, organisations and individuals were holding diverse workshops and activities including talks, paintings, game, slacklining, acrobatics.
For two weeks, prior to the festival, some of AHC members created and rehearsed a choreography inspired by African dance that they presented twice during the festival. Not only were they amazing and their performance mind-boggling, but they also embraced themselves and reclaimed their space, a space that was long taking away from them, coming from country were open LGBTQ people experience hate, discrimination and violence.
The dancers rehearsing
For them, the Yellow festival was not only an opportunity to perform in front of an audience but also an experience of tolerance.
Often, refugees emerge from the greek narrative as an anonymous, unskilled group, regarded as an unwanted anonymous mass, and only rarely seen as people with ability, talent and skills.
“I was a bit scared first to dance in front of people with all of them looking at. Usually when people look at us it is with disgust, pity and disdain. But surprisingly I felt comfortable really quick, they weren't looking at us with disdain but with admiration. I felt like Beyonce. In Kinshasa, where I am from, I could have never danced like this” says Balbo, one of the dancers.
The dancers performing
After their dance performance, people would go to them to tell them how amazing they were and for the first time in a while they felt special. Rather than being treated like number, they were treated as capable and inspiring people.
“Back in Africa, and in some places of Athens, I would have never had the courage to perform. People would say boys don’t dance like this. With ‘feminine’ movement. I never felt the same freedom I felf in the Yellow days Festival. It motivated me to dance even more”