By far the most exuberant election party of the night was along Cedar Avenue, right in the middle of the street. People from the Somali community, the Nomad Pub, and the nearby Bedlam theater led groups of little kids, young adults, immigrants and older folks–more than 250 people in all–in chants and dances.
One guy appointed himself traffic director, ensuring honking cars were able to weave through the rivers of dancers. Another was a self-appointed band leader, blowing a whistle that turned onlookers into instant dancers and marchers.
When I first arrived at around 11:15, one man, a Somali immigrant, told me he had been dancing in the street for an hour. His friend, with tears in his eyes, hugged me and kissed me on the cheek. “I have no shame,” he said. “I am not ashamed. I kiss everyone. I am so happy.”
Nearby, a group played drums and buckets while about 25 people danced in a circle around them. Nearly all of them were waving plastic American flags. Many held Obama signs.
Cars crept though the huge crowd, many filled with passengers giving the dancers high-fives. Two street musicians played trumpets, one of them playing Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” over and over, the other playing celebratory college-fight songs. At one point, a group of young Somali men held up an American flag. They got nearly everyone–guys dressed in overalls, others in biker gear, and women in hijabs–to chant “U.S.A! U.S.A.!”
Moments later, when a police car arrived, its siren blaring and lights flashing, people danced around it with flags and signs like it was a bonfire. The cop sped off, and dancing and traffic-directing ensued. Later, three cop cars arrived, and an officer issued an order to “get out of the street or we will disperse you.” People moved back, dancing on the sidewalk and crosswalk. One police officer, the only African-American among the six or so officers, told a young guy dancing in the crosswalk he “was so excited, too.” He gave the kid a high-five. And people all along the street continued to dance and dance.
The celebration lasted into the early morning, with police maintaining traffic flow for motorists and gently coercing dancers to the sidewalks without major incident. MnIndy’s Andy Birkey captured video of the lively, happy crowd — a diverse cross section of Minneapolis.