A slight breeze alleviating the oppressive heat. Laughter and the sound of people humming songs from ‘Les Mis’. Wine glasses as far as the eye can see. Le Tricolore hanging from every ledge. This is Bastille on Bishop, 2015.
Bastille Day, or La Fête nationale, is a celebration of the symbol of the French Revolution: the overthrowing of Bastille prison in medieval France. In Paris, this historic day is marked with the nation’s largest parade. In Dallas, we go to the Bishop Arts district to enjoy some of the wonderful aspects of French culture: namely food, wine, and le marché. Bastille on Bishop is located near where La Réunion (a colony founded on the ideals of French philosopher François Fourier) was settled, just a few miles away from our beloved Reunion Tower, now known as the Bishop Arts District.
As lovers of culture and social spaces, it’s no surprise that about half of our office attended the festival. When we finally found parking, we were led to the festival by men and women in full ‘French’ attire –Breton striped shirts, red berets, and neck scarves. The streets were filled with people enjoying the open-air market. In the middle of the block, crowds of people were watching teams playing petanque – a French game that involves tossing a boule (ball) as close to the conchonnet (a wooden ball inside a circle) as you can.
Though the mood was fun and imaginative, we were brought back to reality as we saw the line of protesters down the main street: ironic for a festival that was celebrating the people’s victory over government. Their signs pleaded with the crowd to help the community preserve the culture of the spaces that we were all currently enjoying. With the rezoning of Oak Cliff on the horizon, and Dallas as a whole moving towards denser development regulations, people are stepping up to protect their neighborhoods. Festivals like Bastille on Bishop serve as a good reminder to those of us that call the city home – we must find a way to marry the preservation of culture and the benefits of smart development. Integrating the past, present, and future is a difficult task, but with communities as passionate as this, I have no doubt that we will get to enjoy the Bishop Arts we know and love for years to come.
Photographs by Raylen Worthington (color) and Charlie Pruitt (b&w)