Brent Crampton does not expect the world to end tonight.
That won't deter him from partying like it might.
Crampton is spending today converting the House of Loom on South 10th Street into a jungle, complete with a canopy of faux leaves and a mist machine. He's co-owner of the dance club and sort-of avant-garde performance space.
His end-of-the-world bash, which begins at 9 p.m., will include a fire performer, live percussionists, Maya-inspired drinks, body painting and dancing, all celebrating the end of the long-count Maya calendar.
As you may have heard, that happens today.
The end of this approximately 5,125-year Maya cycle and rumors that the world will end, too, have prompted a mix of hysteria (the U.S. government actually issued a statement assuring citizens that there's nothing to worry about) and excitement, as bars and clubs have planned end-of-the-world-themed blowout parties. It's also spurred some more serious examinations of what the end of the Maya long-count calendar means to Maya people.
Déjà Vu, 1021 S. 178th St., is offering drink specials all night, as well as dollar Jell-O shots to those who stay past midnight, said owner Nikki Richardson. She wanted to have some kind of special event each weekend in December, and the end of the Maya calendar fit nicely with the events she already had scheduled.
“It's going to be probably just an average night,” she said.
The Ralston Arena is putting on a “Doomsday 5K” on Saturday morning for those who want to celebrate their survival by running three miles in the cold (the race was originally scheduled for Friday but was moved on account of the weather).
Richardson, who bartended on New Year's Eve 1999 and lived to tell about it, wasn't worried about the world ending. And neither, apparently, were the race organizers who rescheduled the race.
But, as Crampton points out, it's fun to pretend.
“What if this was the end of the world? What do you want to do? You want to be with your friends and you want to dance and you want to enjoy life,” he said.
Luis Marcos, a board member of the local Maya group Comunidad Maya Pixan Ixim, had also planned to take part in an event today, though this one was a bit different.
Marcos, who is Maya, was going to attend an outdoor ceremony at the Joslyn, followed by a panel discussion on Maya culture and beliefs, a screening of a documentary on issues facing contemporary Maya people and a dance at the Mexican American Historical Society of the Midlands.
Alas, the event was canceled on account of the snow, though several other events are planned for later.
The event was to celebrate the end of one Maya calendar cycle and the beginning of another, Marcos said, as well as to dispel the myth of the world's impending end.
“The Maya never said that the world would end on Dec. 21, 2012,” Marcos said. “Our Maya spiritual leaders ... their official position is that the world will not end. It's really the end of one cycle and the beginning of a new one.”
And the beginning of a cycle of the Maya calendar is not unlike the beginning of a new year, Marcos said.
People make resolutions and fresh starts. They vocalize dreams for the future. Marcos and other Maya people hope that this next cycle brings a greater emphasis on taking care of the Earth, as well as equality for all people from all walks of life.
Jose F. Garcia, one of the organizers of the canceled event, said he had hoped to help set the record straight.
“We're trying to short-circuit all this apocalyptic nonsense,” he said.
Garcia is not Maya. But he said most of the Maya people he knew were being pretty good sports about the whole end-of-the-world thing.
Marcos estimated that about 1,500 people of Maya descent live in Omaha and Council Bluffs. The first Maya families arrived from Guatemala in the mid-1990s, he said, drawn mostly by work at meatpacking plants.
But few people realize that.
“When I tell people I'm Maya, they open their eyes a little wider,” he said. “There is this notion that the Maya disappeared.”
In any case, Marcos said he didn't begrudge partiers their parties or runners their Doomsday 5K.
“I'm all for people having fun,” he said.
But he asks that people remember as they celebrate the end of the world that the Maya are celebrating a beginning.
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