It seems like the spirits are smiling on Jude Papaloko Thegenius. Five months ago he was abruptly forced to find a new home for his Jakmel Art Gallery, uprooting the colorful, creative haven from its Biscayne Boulevard outpost to less calamity-prone territory. Now Papaloko has rebuilt his gallery into a bigger, brighter, better space. Wilma grazed the outdoor patio bar that the multitalented artist/musician had been building, but the Florida Power & Light gods blessed Jakmel with electricity the day after the hurricane hit. Now Papaloko is ready to host Gede 2005, a five-day local celebration of one of Haiti's biggest vodou rituals.
"Gede is the spirit that stands between this life and the afterlife. It is the gate. It is a celebration of truth," Papaloko says. "People come to drink and dance and to share what's going on in the community." Considering the recent events that have affected Haitian communities in Louisiana, there will be much to discuss and even more to give. Part of the event's proceeds will go to the displaced victims of Hurricane Katrina. Shimmy with the spirits beginning at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, November 3, at the Gede Dance. Master drummer Yatande Boko will be flown in from his native land to beat out an irresistible rhythm for revelers.
Banda Night kicks off at 9:00 p.m. Friday, November 4, and the way Papaloko explains the event makes it sound like a sight to see: "Banda is like a competition to see who the best dancer is. We play a heavy drum rhythm, and everyone lets loose." If you're unfamiliar with Haitian dance steps, check out the Gede Dance Workshop Saturday, November 5, to learn from Ovida Alva and express spirituality through fluid, graceful movements. Then show off your cool moves at the celebration's conclusion, a special event that begins at 9:00 p.m., dramatically titled The Night of Bawon Samdi.