This paper is about my experience during the Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Festival, which I attended on September 13, 2015. This festival is an annual event, and this year, it has been the fourteenth time it was held in Los Angeles. The Little Ethiopia Fest is dedicated to the Ethiopian New Year, which starts on 11 September, in accordance with the Gregorian calendar.
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The event took place in the so-called Little Ethiopia district of Los Angeles, the Fairfax Avenue, located between Olympic and Pico Boulevards, and was organized by the Little Ethiopia Business Association. The fest lasted for eight hours, from 12:00 PM until 8:00 PM, and was a real celebration of the Ethiopian culture.
The first thing I liked about the Little Ethiopia Cultural Street Festival was the atmosphere there. For at least eight hours, that place turned into a completely different world where different rules were applied. It seemed like the Ethiopian oasis in Los Angeles. That was achieved in many ways: due to Ethiopian clothing, their extraordinary food, unique arts and crafts, entertainments, performances, presentations with speakers, and so forth.
Ethiopian clothes are really nice, especially those that women wear. The predominant color in female clothes is white, with bright, usually golden, yellow or blue patterns on them. Women’s dresses are cotton and very light. They are also simple and made just from several long strips that are sewn together. Still, bright patterns add elegance. At the festival, I saw both women in knee length dresses and those who wore long clothing with shawls covering their heads. Even little girls had their cute little white dresses. As for men, they also wear white clothes, often with colorful patterns.
Apart from the clothing, Ethiopian food is worth attention. Not only meals are unusual but even the way how they are consumed differs from what I am used to. Plates are covered with injera, which is something like a pancake or thin and spongy round bread.
On the top of injera, all foods (vegetables, meat, sauces, etc.) are put. On the plate, you will get a lot of different foods in small quantities. You will also have one or two more pieces of injera twisted into tubes, with the help of which you are supposed to eat; those serve as spoons. Additionally, Ethiopian food is a great solution for vegetarians, vegans, and people who stick to various diets. Ethiopians have a lot of meat-free dishes, and injera itself is fully natural, vegan and gluten-free.
Finally, the entertainment prepared for the guests of the festival was great and truly Ethiopian, starting with speeches given from the scene and finishing with unique performances. Most of all, I was impressed by Ethiopian music and dances. Their music is fast and energetic, and it is literally impossible to stand still while it is playing. Ethiopian dance looks simple and consists of only several movements, which basically involve shaking shoulders in rhythm with the music. Women also shake their breasts in addition to shoulders.
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To conclude, I really liked the festival. It was a unique and useful experience, which let me immerse myself in an entirely different culture. I met many interesting people, tasted delusions meals and discovered Ethiopia for myself. I am sure that such festivals are necessary for all of us since they help people to expand the boundaries of their world and get to know something beyond it, which is unreachable in other ways.