about Por Vida
Por Vida is an annual event, held on or around the weekend of the traditional Mexican holiday of the Day of The Dead, which takes place on November 1st. Por Vida is a contemporary interpretation of this holiday, so many aspects of the event have been created to include a broader community of people that are either unfamiliar with the holiday or have never considered participating in a celebratory event centered around the meaning of this holiday.
Por Vida started in 2008, as a spark of an idea that seemed to be a topic avoided, in the inevitable experience of death. Year after year, celebrating Halloween had been feeling less and less symbolic to me. I began to wonder what it meant to me anymore. In this moment, I understood fully why The Day of The Dead exists, and wondered if I could introduce a public to this symbolic event, while contributing a creative interpretation that involved creative artists, entrepreneurs, and a place to invite guests to actually remember, celebrate, and make public if they felt so inclined, whom it is that they have come to commemorate. We have created a “wall of remembrance” for guests to bring photographs, stories, and other materials to hang that are viewable throughout the night and event. This wall is where we focus our collective energies, as this event is for them.
The objective of Por Vida is to create a celebration for the lives that have passed, affected us, inspired us, and to commemorate these people. Death is something we all experience in our lives at some point, and a great deal of sadness and mourning is present on these occasions. Por Vida aims to remember these lives, to celebrate their effect on ours, and put forth positive energy by honoring the fact that we were fortunate enough to experience these lives. This is an event for them, and the involvement of the community allows us to enjoy this event together, by creating an atmosphere of love for life.
The involvement of artists to create work inspired by the meaning of the Day of The Dead is an important part of Por Vida, as the work created lends itself to various perspectives of the creator that generate interest and the appreciation from the viewer for this individual mourning or celebratory process of dealing with death. Visual art and work specific to the theme enrich the atmosphere as well as music and performance art by entertainment appropriate to the overall mood of the event.
Por Vida asks local sponsors to participate by lending monetary or trade for sponsorship donations. This aids the event by mutually giving exposure to hand selected local business (mostly small business), and providing a budget for the event. A portion of Por Vida's profits go to a charity of our choosing.
The event offers a low cover charge, free food and drink, free entertainment, and available art. The guests are encouraged to dress up, and do their own research on how best to appropriate their costuming. These costumes set themselves apart from the typical Halloween attire by creating a symbolic embodiment of what, or whom they want to represent and commemorate, whether this be an idea or a person. The choice is theirs, and they are asked to be creative in that choice.
Por Vida wishes to expand by simultaneously holding the event in Chicago, Berlin (Germany), and maintain it’s location of origin, Columbus, Ohio. I feel this expansion would create a better exposure for the event, it’s sponsors, artists, performers, cities, and reputation as a unique occasion. The Por Vida event was first tested on a 21 and older crowd, and due to the overwhelming response of that population, as well as the gaining interest of younger inquiries, Por Vida now offers an all ages evening one night, and a 21 and older event the next. The introduction of the directive of Por Vida to a younger population, I feel, should be handled differently and more carefully, as many younger people haven’t experienced death yet, and their understanding of this type of loss is less experienced. However, Por Vida provides an alternative to the sadness that surrounds death, by introducing the notion of appreciating what we have had, and this could by default create an atmosphere of appreciation for what we still have, while we have it, in the minds of younger people.