My youngest dance teacher
Why Latinos don’t obsess over Prom
What today’s reflection forgot to mention was the ethnic twist on the whole situation. Maybe, just maybe, the reason I’m not tripping over this whole Prom Night thing is because there are other rites of passage that I have celebrated and most definitely plan to enjoy in the future.
Someday, M’s boda:
And maybe we’re not in formal attire, but the ultimate pachanga (and it’s coming soon!!!) :
Loco just like you
Flashback: the snap
See what had happened was I never really warmed up that day. Lifted weights that morning and walked a few blocks to get there. But no calf stretches or squats or I-ran- 9-miles-in-Vegas-last-week movement. Just changed into ballet slippers and started twirling around. Never mind I was still feeling stiff and sore. This is the Nutcracker and I’m in it, damnit!
A dad and his daughter approached me. He extended his hand because he wanted me to lead another line of dancers around the auditorium. I took a step and then rose up on my toes for another two.
Snap! I heard and felt a distinct “pop” in my left calf. My foot gave out so I dragged myself and the other dancers as my leg burned and my head spun. Could it be bone? But I could still move, even if it hurt like a mother.
I danced the entire show, favoring the good foot.
Never said I listen to my pain at all times.
Broadcasting from the afterparty
Tao at the Venetian. Just had a complimentary Cape Cod. The house music is pumping. I’ve missed it!
How come all the cute guys are barbacks and bouncers?
If there’s a bad influence within a 5 mile radius and he’s Latino, chances are I’ll get mixed up in some madness. Halloween 2007 was no exception. It was Thank God It’s Friday meets Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle. Okay so there was no nudity or cheetah riding but there were a lot of hilarious moments, courtesy of my bro’s bros and yours truly. Stay tuned for the play by play…
All I’m missing is a feather headdress
So I didn’t run this past weekend but I did get in my cardio workout. Sunday morning, I danced samba. It wouldn’t surprise me if I burned an equivalent amount of calories. I know my core and leg muscles got a workout.
I love to dance. I have been dancing for most of my life: four years of tap and jazz, a quarter of West African(which I’ve forgotten for some reason), three quarters of belly dancing, as well as three decades of dancing to almost anything with a beat. My most recent endeavor is samba.
Samba is the national dance of Brazil. Like most Afro-Latin dance rhythms, samba bases itself on African drumming and dance styles with some Portuguese influence. The centerpoint of the samba beat is the surdo(bass drum). Follow the surdo beat even as samba’s characteristics bells and whistles layer over the bass.
Samba is also an umbrella term for the variety of styles such as bossa nova(think “Girl from Ipanema”) to the high energy batucada(think Carnaval). What makes samba different from the Spanish-language beats/dance styles is the emphasis on footwork. There are no partners in samba but there is a reason most people join an escola do samba(samba school) to master the dance. The basic samba step is step-touch-touch but that’s where the simplicity ends. And the cardio workout begins.
Blow that whistle!
Azucar y sabor: a closer look at salsa
I’m soaking in salsa. Not in tomatoes, onions or chili peppers. No, for the last two days, since the office is in shutdown mode, I have been listening to Yahoo Launchcast. I started with my usual dose of reggaeton but then I decided to listen to the Salsa Cien Por Ciento station. What fun!
As intimidated as I seem when at Luka’s or a family gathering(or my recent night at Nashville’s Ibiza), I have always loved salsa. There’s something about that piano, those horns, that cowbell, the timbales, the bongos and congas, and all the voices of the coro as they play and dance in unison. Salsa has been a part of my musical life for as long as I can remember. I grew up on Willie Colon, Celia Cruz, El Gran Combo, Oscar D’Leon, Tito Puente, and La Sonora Matancera. I learned the basic salsa step of right foot forward and back and right foot backward and back, the duro palante and pun patras that Daddy Yankee calls out, along with all other dance moves. Of course, I didn’t learn to dance with a partner because Peruvians dance freestyle, which now that I think about it, must be because all Peruvian dances, including the equally movido Afro-Peruvian dances, are danced alone and incorporate plenty of improvisation. Salsa brings back great memories of dancing in garages and family rooms, of singing along with classics like “Caballo Viejo”and “Brujeria,”of beating time on a sofa or a table.
Recently, I read Mi Vida, the autobiography of the Queen of Salsa, Celia Cruz. I always admired the brassy singer from her young days with La Sonora Matancera singing the chacha(I love “Yerbero Moderno”) to her 1980s Mazola commercials. There was something about her crazy wigs, wild outfits, and wild makeup, and her signature shout, “Azucar!” Her life story is the American Dream Latino style and taught me a lot of history as well as more about salsa(which is a term made up by the media and music moguls to market Latin dance music and one which the veteran performers never fully embraced.) I have even more respect for her now, knowing that she performed up until a few days before she lost her battle to brain cancer. Her songs are especially inspirational to me now, knowing what she endured and yet transformed through her art
Listening to the salsa station has reminded of the artists I enjoyed in the late 80s and 90s when I got back in touch with my Latino musical roots: Luis Enrique, Jerry Rivera, Eddie Santiago, La India, Marc Anthony. I can tell the difference between these pop salseros and the more jazzy vets like Eddie Palmieri. The station plays a good mix of old and new school salsa with a few merengue songs and even my old favorite, “Yerbero Moderno.” Alone in my office, I danced both the chacha and salsa. Azucar!
It was a feeling unlike any other. All 4’11” of me just strutting, parading, serving it, working it. Because if there was anything I learned all those years on the dance floor in gay clubs, it was to let these mothers have it. All of a sudden, it didn’t matter if I was short or Peruvian or carrying an extra pound(or five.) When I was walking across that floor, sometimes in the company of drag queens or club queens, sometimes alone, sometimes holding my Cookie Monster doll, once with an open umbrella, occasionally with a Corona bottle in hand, whether I was wearing a vintage Adidas jacket and sneaks or a cute little dress, I was invincible, magnificent, glorious. Just play one of these classic tracks(like my recent iPod addition, Patrice Rushen’s “Haven’t You Heard”) and I’m back. Ms. Cookie, Cookie, Mouse, Lil India, Hayward, me.