What can you say about the yearly H Street Festival downtown Washington, DC. Have I mentioned before that this is by far my favorite street festival in the area? Well, it is, and every year I go back to take some pictures and to enjoy the music, the incredible restaurants, and above all, the laid-back party atmosphere at the place. Apparently I’m not alone in thinking that way, as judging by the wall-to-wall crowds, this must be one of the best attended festival in DC. Not served by a metro station and somewhat out-of-the-way from the tourist areas in the city, H Street is one of those places that you reach by either intentionally walking there for a reason (and there are many reasons to visit) or simply by getting lost. But no one has problems finding the place in September, when masses of revelers and artists descend on the neighborhood for a cultural festival like no other in this town of buttoned-up politicians. Boasting some of the best ethnic restaurants in town, H Street more than makes up for its otherwise glamorous-challenged existence by becoming party central for a day. That the festival happens to coincide with the start of the famous Oktoberfest in Munich is even better, because just like in that great German festival, the folks at H Street never run out of beer either.
What is it about days gone by that so much fascinate today’s imagination? With the digital revolution being experienced by our generation, it would seem that everyone has been caught up on the modern technological era, looking forward to a connected world trying to move as close as possible to the speed of light. And yet, if you take a stroll down the Virginia countryside (or any state countryside for that matter), you will immediately notice that nostalgia for simpler times is alive and well in the American psychic. There are endless reenactments of colonial era lifestyles, county fairs where old machinery clonks its way throughout the day, and local entertainment that has nothing to do with today’s hip-hop generation. In some sense it is a look back in search of grounding, a retrospective yearning for meaning in a modern world that seems to lack meaning at times. And if we cannot tell where we came from, I guess we will never know how far we’ve traveled along that road we call life. So let’s hear it for nostalgia, for that marker along the road by which we measure the progress in our lives and which will always be our guiding light in an uncertain and unpredictable future.