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Jazz in the Park: Social Disintegration in Reverse

By Kerri Provost

July 25, 2012

“I hate jazz,” she says cheerfully, taking a sip of her dirty martini in a jar.

Gathering in Bushnell Park on summer afternoons and evenings for live jazz is, for some, a chance to socialize more than it is an opportunity to sit silently while musicians perform. It is an occasion for the community, the village, to be for each other– not in mourning and not with any specific call for celebration.

The open-to-all, mainly self-regulated nature of these events — Monday Night Jazz and the Greater Hartford Festival of Jazz — may seem like a recipe for disaster to some. There is open public drinking, but it is rare to see anyone intoxicated. Food is shared among friends and strangers. People keep watch over others’ belongings when they get up to stroll, purchase food, or wait in the long lines for the restroom. Children and pets become part of the makeshift village.

Sure, there are police nearby, but their presence is minimal.

Nobody and everybody is in charge.

Not having to pay admission means anyone can attend– racial, ethnic, and age diversity is striking. Organizations that have engineered events to attract a desired demographic must be jealous of how effortlessly this is achieved year after year simply by programming music that has near universal appeal and by fostering an environment in which nobody feels like the odd one out.

Though the Greater Hartford Jazz Festival has come and gone this year, Monday Night Jazz continues through August 13th; in the event of rain, the music is moved to Asylum Hill Congregational Church.

On July 30th, HYPE (Hartford Young Professionals and Entrepreneurs) will be organizing a “doggy playdate” near the carousel in Bushnell Park from 6-7pm, where the dogs can romp while their vaguely youthful people picnic and chat. If it rains, the doggy playdate will be rescheduled for August 6th.

Reprinted with permission of Kerri Provost, author of the blog RealHartford. To view other stories on this topic, search RealHartford at http://www.realhartford.org/.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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