4Shanbeh-Soori party in Iran: anxiety & freedom
March 17, 2005
I remember in the 80's, despite the
fact that the revolution was pretty young and the war between Iran
and Iraq had reached its
peak (cities, neighborhoods and therefore civilians were being
bombarded), pop culture had never been as popular amon youngsters.
Young Iranians would dance to Jackson's "Thriller", George Michael's
hit about "never dancing again", and the latest in break
dance and what not (Depeche Mode, Shakakan, Nena, MeatLoaf, Limhal,
Two nights ago I witnessed the same kind of pop culture
progression among Iran's youngest generation.
Tuesday of the year represents
a significant celebration in Iranian culture, which derives
from the ancient Zaraostran tradition of departing from the year
has passed and welcoming the new one with a brand new frame
of mind and positivity, symbolized by a row of fire over which
people jump and bid farewell to the past year. And there
are parties, fireworks and lots of fun, particularly for young
was a gathering at a villa in the outskirts which I went with
one of my good friends. The villa
itself was spectacular, not
because of it being as luxurious as a castle, so to speak; but
because of its use of architecture and design to ensure comfort.
A green gate opened to a vast field divided in several
levels going underground. Each level had a different use. The first
one was the one that contained a funky swimming pool of the kind
I had never seen before. It had the shape of a bagel,
reversed: A large covered circle was in the center of the pool
for sunbathing) while the larger circle
was for swimming. Two little bridges gave people access
to the center of the pool. I was quite impressed.
The second level was a football field (or for any
other sport for that matter), while the third was more like an
orchard, where the
fire was set up for people to jump over and carry out this fascinating
Zoroastrian tradition. There were fireworks, too. Some of them
too loud and others beautiful, illuminating the gorgeous purple
There was House music (of the loud kind) blasting
in the villa and Absolut vodka of every kind was being served (this
been a dream 20 years ago). I met some really interesting people
such as a movie make-up artist who was working with people that
I or my dad knew or had done films with. She begged of me to make
my way to Hollywood, since, as she put it, I had the opportunity
to do so to advance in my career and "give it a shot".
I talked to another young woman who had just returned
from Cuba where she acted as a translator for a filmmaker interviewing
Che Guevara's son Camillo for a documentary on my boyfriend (guess
At some point during the party, I looked
across the room at this group of young people who were dancing,
and taking picutres with their digital cameras. I told myself
that this scene could be from anywhere in the world. Not only
because these people looked as if they had jumped out of either
Vogue or an MTV video, but because
most people in the world are unaware that certain things are universal.
I feel prejudice very often blinds us from realizing
that the media thrive on what they want us to believe about other
cultures. Of course, I understand
be no journalistic merit in showing the world that youth is
the same everywhere; there's nothing controversial about that.
However, I feel there has been a great deal of injustice done towards
in particular, in creating an unfair global perception.
2am my friend and I were very
hungry. We were contemplating
the idea of staying overnight but we were fearful of the Revolutionary
Guards controlling the roads on our way back to the city. However,
in view of the fact that there
was no food in sight (VERY unusual in this cultur), we decided
to risk getting caught on the
road and head back. We followed the car of a friend who told
us he would be happy to go first and call our mobile if
there were guards
on the road.
As we were approaching the checkpoint, we realized
there were no guards in sight and, as we passed , we gave each
up in a sign of victory. I truly cherished that moment. Two
cars coming back from an amazing party and elebrating the absence
of guards would could make life miserable! Once
again I realized that it is the sense of solidarity
amongst people that is making them put up with repression
of freedom day after day.
Hungry and tired, we ended
up at this guy's house to eat. I couldn't help but think, realize,
appreciate and celebrate
the fact that
my friend's friend was welcoming us into his house
at dawn to feed us. It was a blast. We had Russian salad and chiken
I love the love here.