Sunday, March 12, 2006

Don Sparks, in memoriam

The previous post, as it veered off into discussing the relationship of classical and folk music, caused me to want to post something related, although sadly so.

I learned last week, entirely by accident, that my old friend from my folk dancing days in high school, Don Sparks, passed away in December 2005, not very long ago, at the age of 47. Don was a gifted musician and dancer who started dancing at about the age of 13 or 14 and made his career with Aman folk ensemble in Los Angeles. Don and I had wonderful times as teens dancing together - I never had his talent as a musician, but I do remember when he made his own Serbian bagpipe one summer, after slaughtering, gutting, and skinning a goat on his grandparents' Texas ranch. We also spent other times together - a day spent climbing Mt. Cucamonga above my home town of Claremont, California, near Mt. Baldy - we came down sunburned beyond belief. I was an usher at his first wedding, and even though we lost touch entirely many years ago, when I moved East, I always thought the world of Don. It was a lost world of teenagers hanging out at a Greek coffee/dance house in Los Angeles called the Intersection - in retrospect, I see how lucky I was to have found a social scene like that, sexy and sensual on the one hand - ethnic dance is often unapologetically about courtship, of course - and very group oriented with a group of brainy older graduate students from UCLA and Cal Tech but also families who treated the coffee house as an extension of the old country - it was sexy for a teen without being raunchy. There were good people there who were very good for a nerdy, awkward teen like me. I randomly googled Don a week ago, and discovered to my sorrow that he had passed away. My condolences to his many friends and family.

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