Last weekend I attended something I’ve been looking forward to since my arrival in PNG. The Goroka Show!! The Goroka Show is basically a pacific pow-wow – tribes from all around PNG come to showcase their traditional dress, dances, and songs. This is going to be a fairly heavy post picture wise, so PNG friends, you may just want to come over and see my pictures in person 😉
I went with some friends: Connie (also works for IMR), Morgan (works for CARE), and Julia (works for Marie Stopes in POM). But, when we got there, we realized we didn’t have a parking pass, so we headed back to town to get one. It turned out the office was closed, but Julia managed to finagle a police escort so we got to park at the show grounds without paying for a pass!
We purchased ‘VIP’ passes at K150 each. This meant that we were able to show up at about 9 am, and mingle with the groups. It was really cool to see all of the groups come in and be able to talk with them and take pictures.
It was also a bit weird having the VIP passes. Since it’s so expensive, it was 99% white tourists inside, while all the locals waited along a fence to see the festivities from afar. So it seemed really awkward to me that us tourists were able to see everything up close and personal, while the locals were barred from being immersed in an event showcasing their culture. Also, some of the tourists were EXTREMELY rude! Getting in the middle of the dancers and disrupting them, asking them to pose in certain ways, getting right up in their faces without asking! If you’re taking a picture of an individual, it’s common courtesy to ask – and then show them the picture if they’d like to see it… It made me feel pretty conflicted about taking pictures, but I did it anyway and I’m glad I did so that I can share a small piece of the incredible culture and diversity that PNG has to offer.
Anyway, the gates are opened to the general public in the afternoon and it gets pretty crowded. We left around 1pm, after which there were fights and apparently tear gas thrown into the crowd… Which is, I guess, why they have the ‘tourist’ time, but it still seems pretty sad to me.
Many groups used traditional dress – using things natural leaves, grasses, feathers, etc. But there were some modern ones as well who used modern synthetic materials and non-native feathers. Most chose a combination of old and new.
It was incredible, and I will definitely attend again next year! Here’s some of my favourite pictures out of the 600 or so that Connie and I took.
So, who’s coming to visit next September? 😉