August 20, 2010

Market Square.

Our cross-Canada tour, almost a decade ago, kicked off at Market Square in Victoria.

We were raising money to build a school in Ecuador, and had decided to tour the country in a van, performing in sixteen towns and cities along the way, asking the audience to donate to the school-building cause.

The crowd was sparse when we started setting up for the first show in Market Square, and by the time we were scheduled to begin, the audience consisted mainly of friends and family who had come by to support us. Slowly, however, the crowd started to grow. As we sang and danced on stage, people emerged from shops, called their friends, and started to sing and cheer and clap along. By the time we finished the whole set, there were dozens of new people joining in the applause — strangers who not only helped by giving donations, but who helped us start the tour with enthusiasm, optimism, and excitement.

After the show, we met people who wished us well on our way, who were going to make sure they told their family and friends in the other cities where we would be performing; people who had never met us before but with whom we made a connection simply because they had stumbled upon music in a courtyard and had decided to stick around.

The rest of the trip was filled with other similar surprises, but it was that first show in Market Square that set the tone of the trip.

It’s just before 11am here in Victoria, and I am sitting here in a mostly-deserted Market Square after spending a few days on campus for my 10-year high school reunion. There are no performances taking place in the courtyard today, but a group of young people are playing hacky sack in the corner. They are quite good.

I have taken a seat on the green bench beside them as I watch them keep the bag up for almost a hundred touches. They keep trying to break their previous best, and from time, I am joined by an interested tourist who sits down next to me. We applaud their every effort.

The young people smile every time we clap, and try harder the next time. I sit back and enjoy the sunshine from above and the talent in front of me.