When she moved from Brazil to Humboldt two years ago, Marjo Lak brought Butter Music Brazil with her. "It's a record label started by a DJ collective with five DJs who started doing festivals and parties together," said Lak, calling from her home in McKinleyville. "It's a label I carried with me -- it's kind of developed into a style with electro-minimal house, heavy bass lines and groovy beats."
Integrated with the dance music is an environmental and spiritual ethic. Lak originally came here to study Chinese medicine and natural foods at Heartwood Institute. "Then I got stuck here," she said with a laugh. "I got married and stayed." This summer she drew on her Butter Music skills to start up something she calls All Tribes Dance, pulling together music and ecological thinking in a series of gatherings at the Arcata Theatre Lounge.
"The intent was to do a movie and music festival and build community," she said. "We start with some short movies from Postmodern Times, this group from New York making movies about ecological waste and changing our relation with nature and find a better way to take care of our system. Then we present a full-length documentary."
This Friday the full-length film is Laya Project. "It's a beautiful movie about the survivors of the  tsunami in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Thailand. It really touched my heart the first time I saw it. It shows the survivors gathering and sharing their music in rituals and ceremonies, drumming and chanting, beautiful images. Music is a big part of every culture -- other movies we've shown were about using music in healing in a spiritual way.
"I think modern society has changed the way we use music in gatherings. If you go back to older cultures, music is part of every gathering for spiritual experience where people sing and drum and pray together. The whole idea of the [All Tribes] project is to bring back that sort of reconnection with nature and Earth and create a sacred space where we can dance. We share what we are proposing with the project: basically that we want change, to change our relationship with Mother Earth and with nature."
Proceeds from the events go to something called the International Council of 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. "It's a group of grandmothers from all over the world who got together in 2004. They've been traveling all over expressing this same message about behavior in respect to nature, and ecologic living and thinking forward for the next seven generations."
The final All Tribes Dance for the summer takes place on Friday Aug. 13, at the Arcata Theater Lounge with doors at 7:30 p.m. The film screening starts at 8 p.m. with shorts by Postmodern Times and Laya Project. A dance celebration with DJ Marjo Lak follows at 10 p.m. Admission is $15, $10 in advance.