Afghan dancer Samira Karami at Discostan’s fundraiser for Afghan refugees
Last Saturday, I felt as if the pandemic had slipped away when I joined more than 500 bodies at Zebulan to support Afghan refugees and artists. To enter the event, one had to make a donation to causes listed in Discostan’s Linktree and show up with a vaccination record. Inside a packed back-room, people danced to music, listened to singer Ajmal Subat, and watched dancer Samira Karami who danced solo but also selected audience members to join her on stage.
Arshia Haq, the founder of Discostan, had advised me to arrive early, so I could find a seat for Ammi, my 82-year old mother. At first, Ammi, and my friends and I camped out on a corner seat not far from stage, but as the room filled up, we escaped to the patio to be in open air. An almost-full-moon rose above us, and mostly twenty-somethings clustered at tables or stood together. The energy was electric. The night was the first Discostan show since the pandemic shutdown in March 2020.
While sharing tables with different groups, Ammi, my friend Shaista, and I fell into conversations with strangers. Everyone wanted to connect, and we talked late into the night. I had a packet of my On Belonging cards in my purse and shared cards out with attendees who wanted to participate in my project.
As always, most had roots in other countries, proving my point that walls, borders, and passport checks can’t arrest migration.
My On Belonging – community responses to home and the pandemic will launch on October 8 at ArtNight Pasadena and will remain up for viewing till October 25. The project is cosponsored by the Armory Center for the Arts and is funded in part by funded in part by Pasadena Arts & Culture Commission and the City of Pasadena Cultural Affairs Division. Click here to learn more about the opening.