Lotus in the Meadow kicks off weekend of events

Dogs, children, college students, townsfolk and Charlie Bird from Bloomington – riding a bicycle – gathered on the night of the autumnal equinox.

The opening night of the 29th Annual Lotus World Music and Arts Festival donned blankets and sweatshirts and brought a crowd to Dunn Meadow. However, the 50-degree temperature and breezy air didn’t stop attendees from exploring the event, including Diego Aca from Bloomington and Araceli Cuazitl, a sophomore at IU.

It was the hot air balloon ride – organized by the IU Union Board – that caught her attention. But Aca and Cuazitl soon noticed a crowd and made their way to the stage, following the strains of unfamiliar music.

Related: [29th annual Lotus World Music and Arts Festival to kick off Sept. 22]

“It’s definitely experimental,” Aca said, referring to the music by Thursday’s headliner Matixando, a Latin fusion group. “Something else.”

Amid a sea of ​​swaying concert-goers, IU students Kate Mindak and Lauryn Adamski provided a visual juxtaposition, jumping up and down to music they—like Aca and Cuazitl—had never heard before.

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“I listen to pop,” Mindak said. “I hear a lot from Taylor Swift.”

Mindak and Adamski said they were having a stressful night, so they went for a walk — and accidentally stumbled across the hot air balloon. Though waiting for the balloon was too long for them, they decided to continue walking through the meadow to the glowing stage, which improved their spirits.

“We didn’t have a good night before,” Adamski said.

“That really helped,” Mindak added.

While Mindak and Adamski danced the night away in the middle of the concert, Bloomington native Macaulay Ward sat in the dark of the trees lining Dunn Meadow’s sidewalk as she took in the concert.

Related: [IU Theater to premiere inaugural Micro Theatre Festival Sept. 24]

Ward is not new to Lotus. She said she has been with Lotus for about 75% of the 28 years she has lived, and as a result has been “slowly exposed” to other cultural values ​​throughout her life. Being from the Midwest, she said it’s something that opened her eyes.

“There are other things out there,” Ward said. “And I’ve never traveled abroad, so it was a source of culture and information for me.”

The music itself is something Ward has come to appreciate. She loves listening to her friends play music, such as the members of Matixando, whom she has heard and met at clubs around town. She said she wanted to understand people and cultures.

“Even if you can’t understand the words at first, you can still feel the beat, right? And the rhythm?” said Ward. “And eventually — if you’re interested enough — you’ll start learning some of the language.”

Ward is actively exploring music from other countries and uses apps like Spotify to discover music from outside the US, she said.

“For example, I don’t know much about Latvian culture at all,” Ward said, providing an example. “But I found her music on Spotify and it’s cool, right? I enjoy something that is part of someone else’s culture that they appreciate.”

Working at the Player’s Pub, visiting Lotus and befriending artists have all helped music become an important part of Ward’s life – and her love for it has a simple reason.

“It connects people,” Ward said.

A packed schedule of free and paid events for the Lotus World Music and Arts Festival will continue through Sunday. The final concert is on Sunday at 3pm at the Buskirk-Chumley Theater with a performance by Fedderson, Gourley and Miller – on twin fiddles and guitar – and Amaan and Ayaan Bangash on the Indian classical sarod.

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