|Above, a Zuni Pueblo dancer at the Courthouse Plaza in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
When I read that Native American dances will be held three nights a week at the Gallup Cultural Center (which houses the Amtrak station), I thought it was something else and not the traditional nightly Native American dances at the Courthouse Plaza that ran from Memorial Day to Labor Day annually.
It is not.
According to the Gallup Sun:
Nightly Native dances have been a part of Gallup’s summer tradition for years, but like many longstanding events returning from a pandemic hiatus, changes are in the works.
As part of the Gallup Cultural Center’s city-sponsored refresh, the formerly Nightly Indian Dances will return for three nights a week at a new arena under construction there.
That’s not good news for restaurant owner James Rich, who’s unhappy that the dances will leave Courthouse Plaza. For years he’s kept Camille’s Sidewalk Café open in the evenings to serve patrons who come to the plaza to watch the dances.
It’s not just that the dances are moving, he said, but that business owners around the plaza were not consulted before the change was announced to the City Council April 12.
“The lack of inclusion has led us to feel a little disappointed with the decisions that are being made with the nightly dance program,” he said. “Without the opportunity to be in that conversation to relocate it, just unilaterally make a decision to relocate it, we learned that tonight. It was a huge mistake.“
He found sympathetic ears in Gallup City Councilors Fran Palochak and Linda Garcia.
“I was very sad to see the dances were moving from courthouse plaza because it’s such a beautiful venue. It’s round and has seating,” Palochak said. “The plaza was built for this purpose… I just don’t want to see that side die to promote another side of town. The goal and focus is to make downtown vibrant. If there’s too much separation that’s not going to happen.”
“I was also sad [...] to hear we’re not using courthouse square for dances,” she said. “It always drew the people. It was crowded and the tourists just loved it.”
The plaza will still have entertainment.
In addition to concerns about their own business operations, Rich noted that the dances moved to the plaza partly out of concerns over safety and disruptive train noise at the Cultural Center, which is in the renovated Santa Fe Depot. The arena under construction now may not even be suitable for dances, he told the City Council.
“It’s on concrete. It’s supposed to be on dirt. Some of the dancers may object to that,” he said. “There is no keyhole to enter that dance arena. Some of the ladies with the long dresses will have a challenge stepping over that wall.”
"What we have here was a failure to communicate" or, "a lack of communication."
|Above, the Gallup Cultural Center in 2019. Photo by Armand Vaquer.|
It is my suggestion to bring the dances back to the Courthouse Plaza three nights a week and hold them at the Cultural Center two nights a week since taxpayer funds were used to build the new arena there as a compromise.
To read the full article, go here.