The Fairbanks North Star Borough celebrates its diversity every fall with the International Friendship Day. This post features photos that highlight some of the traditional clothes. Some of them were presented in the International Fashion Pageant others were used in ethnic dances and music performances to show the diversity of Fairbanks’ citizens.
The Dutch costume above has an 8 inch (20 cm) hem to keep the skirt and apron down in the heavy winds at the Dutch North Sea. The upper body is protected from the wind by a black top under a vest that is covered by a wind top. The outfit features a mix of prints and pattern that have pastel pinks and purples in common. Read more about mixing prints/pattern.
At the Fairbanks International Friendship Day, in addition to the dances, music and entertainment in traditional costumes, there was ethnic food from local restaurants. Thus, the air of the entire Centennial Center smelled deliciously from the various spices. There were expositions of typical items from the various countries as well as booths where ethnic items and specialties were sold. For instance, Scandinavian cookies, Russian dolls, as well as cake or bread from a variety of countries.
Watching the dances and costumes teaches a lot about the different cultures and how they are influenced by their environment – read colors of nature, local resources, weather and climate. Traditional clothes of northern countries have a lot of wool, while they are from linen, silk or cotton in countries with warmer climate. Subtropical countries have a lot of white to stay cool. Tropical clothes have colorful prints and patterns. Clothes from colder countries have more neutral colors and use bright colors for embroidery (see photo above). Northern countries also use leather a lot like in the men’s outfit below.
The music of colder countries seems to be more melancholic, while those of warm countries is uplifting in comparison.
Even the dances seem to be influenced by the environmental conditions and local history. My husband and I presented and Argentine Tango and a California Two Step. The former is sultry, while the later is smooth and beach fun. Recall when Argentine Tango was developed there was a lack of women in Argentina. Thus, men danced with men and a man first had to learn the woman’s part before learning the lead’s steps. California two step developed in the Californian bars in the 60s as a smooth dance to the various ballads that were popular back then.
There were various groups playing traditional music on instruments I had never seen before. I knew that one can fill squash skins with seeds to make noise and shake them to the beam, but using them as the body of a string instrument is quite something.
The Lathrop High School Ballroom Team performed various European and American dances. The photo above features their Snow-white Disney costume that they wore a couple of years ago when visiting and performing in Disneyland. Some of you may remember the dress. I tried it out as a costume for Dancing with the Fairbanks Stars. I like it on this young woman, but I did not like it on me. What do you think? Did she wear it better?
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Photos: G. Kramm, N. Mölders and friends
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