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DNC 2012: You know you're at a Democratic convention when...

September 06, 2012|By Alana Semuels
  • Delegates show their spirit at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, N.C.
Delegates show their spirit at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte,… (Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles…)

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Some parts of political conventions are very similar, regardless of the party. They have big crowds, Americans from every state, and people dressed in patriotic bling.

But anyone wandering around Charlotte this week would probably find it easy to figure out that this is the liberals' — er, progressives' — week. There’s free yoga on an outdoor greenway every morning at 7 a.m., a yarn and knitting gathering for DNC members and not one, but two special photography and video exhibits dedicated to various members of the Kennedy clan (one is for RFK, the other for Ethel, the matriarch).

At a rally organizing Southern workers Monday afternoon, workers sitting in pews of a Baptist church took a break from chanting “Workers want justice, organize the South” to hear a performance from a band made up of day laborers (for anyone who wishes to hire the band for their next wedding or bar mitzvah, its musicians hail from Los Angeles and it is called Jornaleros del Norte). The band also played at a reception for undocumented immigrants who traveled on a bus from Arizona to Charlotte over six weeks as part of the No Papers No Fear Ride for Justice.

PHOTOS: Scenes from the DNC

The band was not present at the RNC in Tampa, Fla., although that convention did feature some time at a shooting range sponsored by the NRA and a “We Built This Business” bash and a boat party at Yacht StarShip in honor of Senate candidate Tommy Thompson of Wisconsin.

Back in Charlotte, anyone wandering into an art space not far from the convention center Monday night might have been confused to see thin girls with lip gloss parading up and down an aisle between folding chairs, modeling avant-garde clothes that didn’t hide much of their bodies. This was part of a forum on sustainable fashion show that featured clothes “either partly or entirely from repurposed, recycled or upcycled materials or garments.”

And at a speaker’s podium outdoors on Tuesday, libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson was scheduled to talk about ending marijuana prohibition alongside rocker and Women’s World extreme snowboard champion Greta Gaines.

Then of course there were the multitude of official events getting together such diverse groups as the LGBT caucus, the Native American Council, the Asian-American Pacific Islander Caucus, the Disability Caucus, the Hispanic Caucus, the Jewish meeting and the Ethnic Council, presumably for people who don’t fit into any of the previous panels.

PHOTOS: Protests of the DNC

To be sure, some events in Charlotte were similar to those in Tampa. Both had golf outings. Both featured panels on energy and small business and had swanky bashes at night put on by groups such as the Distilled Spirits Council.

But the differences might be bigger than the similarities. It’s unlikely, for example, that Republicans were invited, like Democrats were, to a drag brunch on the Sunday before the convention began, featuring such stars as Tilly Screams and Miley Virus.

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