“Sweet dreams are made of these, who am I to disagree? I travel the world and the Seven Seas–everybody’s looking for something.”
June 21, 2009: Summer Solstice. Do you remember where you were or what you were doing? Probably not: the longest day of the year is not that big of a deal in America. I, however, will always remember where I was June 21st of 2009 because I was in France, where the Summer Solstice is a cause for celebration.
After spending three days in London and six hours on a ferry, the group of 43 I was travelling with was happy to reach France, the true destination of our trip. We didn’t arrive at our hotel until 9:30 at night and while most of the group turned in for the night, my school group of 7 kids plus 3 adults and a boy from another group, the boy called John, as we called him, were ready to jump into the French culture.
Since 1982, France has held an all-night music festival, “Fete de la Musique,” each year on the Solstice and there we were, just in time to enjoy the once-a-year tradition. I could not have asked for a better first night in France. We wandered around the city, fought to the front of crowds, listened to numerous bands (most playing and singing American music, such as Sweet Dreams Are Made of These), and danced the night away; IN THE STREETS! That was by far the best part, there we were, a bunch of Americans, most of whom had never set foot on foreign soil, dancing and singing with the locals right in the streets of Caen.
Not to mention we were bonding as a group. After three days of adjusting to the time change and culture shock we were finally loosening up around each other. We jumped around, screamed out the lyrics and even were taught some ballroom dancing by the boy called John, who at that point, was still a total stranger.
Although we didn’t stay out all night, I think that night in Caen was the best initiation to France we could have had, far better than just going to the hotel and sleeping. Not to mention a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, since it was sheer coincidence that placed our first night in France on the Solstice.
We left Caen early the next morning, heading out to sightsee elsewhere but thanks to a night of dancing, bonding, and loosening up, that town will always hold a special place in my memories.
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