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(photo credit: Courtesy)
In maps of the ancient world, Jerusalem is often positioned as the center of the world. Although a little pretentious and odd, there is more then a hint of truth to it. It is such a small city, yet so very important to so many people. Lately, though, it has been scarred by ultra-Orthodox protesters who've traded in visions of peace and tranquility for fire and violence.
The Urban Edges street party and art show, which takes place today (July 31), is hoping to return some of the city's lost glamor. "It's not a response to the events that just took place. Rather it's a desire to show the other sides of the city. But more importantly, we just wanted to have a great party," says Yaacov Baharav from Taltalistim, a group of party organizers who participated in bringing this event to light.
The festival, which takes place on Jerusalem's Rehov Shushan, is organized by the city's municipality and Tuvia and Hakatze - two bars located on the street - in addition to Taltalistim. "Rehov Shushan is a beautiful, long and narrow street with cool buildings along its sides. It is on the edge of the city's recreational district, yet it is a bit run down lately. We want to bring the color back to it," says Baharav.
This is the second year the festival takes place. Last year saw approximately 2,000 revelers come out. This year, the organizers are anticipating at least as many, if not more.
The art show consists of 50 artists using the walls, windows and water pipes of the buildings along the street as their canvases. The party includes an air juggler act hanging from a crane off the back of a truck, a fashion market, food stands and a non-stop street party featuring the electro-rock band Terry Poison as the main event.
Formed in 2003, Terry Poison consists of four ladies and one of the other gender. The group just released its debut album. Idan "Bruno" Grife is the band's producer and plays the synthesizer. When asked if he is concerned that Poison's upcoming Jerusalem gig might cause trouble at this stressful time, he has no idea what I'm talking about. "We create a party for amazing dances. We are just the thing for this event," he says.
But people are burning trash bins in the name of Shabbat, and Terry Poison describes itself on its website as, "American sleaze and European finesse." You might come off as provocative, I further inquire. "Our show was scheduled a long time ago," he answers, then quickly adds with a smile, "But it doesn't matter. I think the media exaggerates everything. Today it's the ultra-Orthodox Jews and tomorrow it's something else. I believe the anger should be left aside and the dancing should take center stage. Our essence is happiness. Dance is like meditation. Thoughts are forgotten and the music hits you, causing the body to move."
Since 2004, Terry Poison has been touring around Europe. "We are spokesmen of Israel and Judaism. We have a song that relates to the four questions in the Haggada, and one that is based on my bar mitzva sermon. People outside of Israel believe Judaism is all about side-locks and darkness, and we show them a different twist."
And, at the end of it all, Bruno is very excited about the show and the Jerusalem audience. "Every show we've had in Jerusalem consisted of a cool, happy audience. Even the toothless people smiled."
The Urban Edges street party featuring Terry Poison goes down today, Friday, July 31 on Rehov Shushan, Jerusalem from 10 a.m till 6:30 p.m. Entrance is free.