This strange ceremony, mixing chicha, fire, a monster and indigenous dancing, was staged yesterday evening by dance and art students from the Antonio Nariño University, as part of their year-end project.
What it meant was not clear, and left open to interpretation, a student named Brayan told me. But it also had something to do with the injustice of the 1948 assassination of populist leader Jorge Eliecer Gaitán on a nearby sidewalk, Brayan said.
The police, however, evidently did not recognize the artistic genius in the event, rather seeing it as more of a public nuisance, located between two TransMilenio lanes and in the middle of busy Carrera Septima - not to mention the smoke billowing into Bogotá's already-noxious air. The cops hurried the students away, and later fined their teacher under the Nuevo Codigo de Policia.
That all seemed wrong to Brayan.
"It's just an art project," he protested. "It's not like we were here burning things all day long."
Evidently, artistic smoke is not bad for you like regular smoke.
But Brayan saw an elegance in the episode. "We were memorializing injustice," he observed, "and now we've been met by injustice."
Brayan was collecting donations in a hat to pay his teacher's fine.
Certainly, in their zeal for public order and protecting our air, the police might think about going a few blocks north or west and citing the vehicles belching black smoke all day long.
By Mike Ceaser, of Bogotá Bike Tours