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Washington, D.C. Gets Funky



We'd like to end the program today with some sounds from the annual Funk Parade here in Washington, D.C., which kicks off this evening. It's a relatively new tradition, but since it started two years ago, the crowds have more than doubled in size, organizers say. The Parade kicked off in the U Street neighborhood where hundreds of people from all cross-sections of D.C. gathered to listen to music and dance.

SANDRA BUTLER-TRUESDALE: It is all about Washington, D.C. getting together to love each other. Music brings us together, period. But the funk is something that brings everybody together. Everybody can understand that beat - the young, the old, you know, all of us understand that.

MARTIN: That's Sandra Butler-Truesdale, a D.C. native and long-time singer who's worked in the music industry for almost 60 years. She says that even in a city as diverse as the nation's capital, coming together can be as simple as meeting on the dance floor.

BUTLER-TRUESDALE: And it's a lot of different languages in D.C. and a lot of different people in D.C. of all kinds of origins. When we were dancing, everybody was dancing with each other. There was no division - you know, sex, race, none of that. We were just having a good time. And that's what the funk parade is about.

MARTIN: As the crowds start to dance, the skies open up, sprinkling lightly. But as Mariel Garcia points out, a little bit of rain isn't going to stop this parade.

MARIEL GARCIA: You know, I think that's just something you've got to embrace - you got to work with it. That's what funk's all about, right? Rolling with it, making it funky.

MARTIN: A few blocks away, Holly Bass, a local artist who helped build a giant glimmering disco ball - 6 feet in diameter.

HOLLY BASS: The idea is just that it would reflect the faces of the city. It's made with, I think, 42 layers of Styrofoam and 1,300 individually hand-cut squares of carnival mirror that me and my crew assembled one-by-one. And so we've been working on it for a couple weeks now.

MARTIN: After a disco-themed roller skate dance party, Holly Bass and her group rolled the disco ball down the main parade route. They had to make sure it didn't go rolling down the block.

BASS: Well, it is a 6-foot disco ball so anything could happen.

MARTIN: Anything could happen so keep it funky y'all.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Michel Martin is the weekend host of All Things Considered, where she draws on her deep reporting and interviewing experience to dig in to the week's news. Outside the studio, she has also hosted "Michel Martin: Going There," an ambitious live event series in collaboration with Member Stations.
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