Tag Archives: dance

The Traveller’s Effect?

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Our last full day in Nicaragua was Sunday, July 2nd.  We were up at some ungodly hour to take Courtney to the airport, then Sara and I returned to the hostel where we discussed future travel plans and got some advice on traveling in Mexico from John.  (The more I hear about Mexico in my travels, the more intrigued I am…)

After a four hour catnap, we went in search of breakfast and ended up back at the mall, in a coffee shop with connections to the coffee plantation we’d visited on Volcan Mombacho.  I really enjoyed the music that was playing there, so I asked our waitress whether there was an album I could buy or if she could tell me the name of the artist so I could go get my hands on the music myself.  She said the music was streaming off the internet, so she didn’t have any answers for me, but she was more than happy to write down some music recommendations for me.

I save everything.

The music was awesome.  I’m currently obsessed with Fonseca, whose song “Arroyito” I shared in an earlier post.  I’ll share “Enredame” now because it’s also excellent:

 

I wasn’t sure how I felt about Camila y Frank Reyes’ song “De que me sirva la vida” until I listened to it a few times, because I usually have to be in a certain mood for a power ballad.  So, listen to it a few times and it will suck you in.

 

The thing I love about foreign music is that you really don’t have to know the language in order to enjoy it.  I tend to sing (terribly) along to Hindi, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese songs and know very little of most languages.  Of course, if you turn the sound off, it’s obvious I’m only making the sounds, but I choose not to see that as an issue.

Back at the hostel after breakfast, Sara and I met Roberto, a 19-year-old employee at the hostel.  He had a larger-than-life personality, describing himself as having once been good looking “before the gringo food.”  We learned that gringo/a is a term used mostly just to describe Americans.  I had previously assumed it meant anyone from Europe or North America.  He had some strong feelings on the dancing skills of the American females, explaining that he’d been dancing with an American girl once and “was confused.  I didn’t know what she was doing.”  This was pretty funny, as I imagined the girl as doing some kind of crazy booty dropping or hippie dancing.  He also said, “I think the blonde hair, blue eyes people, they don’t like us.”  He was speaking in terms of romantic relationships, but I thought it was an interesting statement nontheless.  As a tourist or a traveler, you visit a place, you make friends, and you have an awesome time that you then go home and tell friends and family about.  It’s hard to keep in touch with people you meet and then leave behind.  If they’re other travelers, then they understand that this is how it goes.  Sometimes you’ll meet again, but more likely you won’t.  It’s all up to serendipity, really.  But, if you bond with someone who isn’t a traveler, a native in a place you’re visiting, what effect do you have on them when you leave?  Travelers are very good at flitting in and out of places without setting down roots.  I understand this:  roots are scary.  Personally, I’m more afraid of stagnating than I am of chaos.  The thing is though, it’s very easy to get caught up in you and in your adventures.  For you, every interaction you have, every challenge you struggle through is part of the bigger picture of your life.

I’m pre-coffee at this point (and a little jittery), so bear with me if that became nonsensical.

“Quieres Bailar?” (Or, Why I’d Rather Dance in San Juan) (Repost)

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As any female who’s ever ventured out to a club will tell you, there’s something about dancing that seems to make it okay for random males to attempt to grope you.  Maybe it’s the modern day mating call, maybe it’s programmed into their genetic makeup, I don’t know.  They’re persistent, too.  If you escape, they tend to follow.   This gets old fast and you wonder, “why won’t they just let me dance?”  Because, if you’re like me, you get really frustrated when someone throws off your groove with the rather uncreative dance moves that seem acceptable for many (not all) of the male persuasion.

This is how I dance. You can understand why I dislike being interrupted

Before I proceed, I should disclaim that I’m sure there are females guilty of doing similar to what I’m currently accusing the male population of doing.   I also don’t believe this is all guys.  There is a specific type of guy who goes out to clubs, gets hammered with a single purpose in mind (hint: dancing isn’t that purpose), and doesn’t respect either the bodies or wishes of those he accosts.  That is the guy I’m talking about.

So, you can imagine what I expected when Sara and I ended up back at the Iguana one night and found it had turned into a full-on dancehall.  Predatory hazards or no, I’m usually not one to turn down an opportunity to dance, so obviously we started bopping around.  Eventually someone came up to ask one of us to dance.  Except he actually asked and didn’t grab.  Weirder still, when we declined, he left us alone.  Following this unexpected exchange, I started paying more attention to the dancers surrounding us.  There were dancers who fell into the category described above, but they seemed to be fewer and didn’t pose a threat.  There were also knots of guys in tank tops with huge arm holes, backwards 80s style baseball caps and knock-off Ray Bans who jumped around exuberantly.  They posed a threat only to our overall physical health as they were falling into chairs, tables, and people without care.  And then there was a third group who could actually dance.

You’re shocked and want to know more, I can tell.

The trend among the Latinos (I’m not sure if they were Nica or otherwise) who wanted to dance with us seemed to involve the following steps:

  1. Strike up a conversation, however stilted, due to my Spanish deficiencies
  2. After a reasonable amount of time had passed, ask to dance.
  3. If accepted, dance, but don’t grab hold like she’s a life raft right away.
  4. Dancing becomes more relaxed, but no violations of personal space ensue.

Also, they could dance.  It. Was. Awesome.  I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun dancing with anyone at any dance club ever.  We did salsa and a little bachata and a little hybrid.  There was one song that started and the guy I was dancing with got super excited and exclaimed, “samba?!”  I’m learning samba, so I was equally excited.  Obviously this style of samba was different from “competition” samba, but still incredibly fun.  This guy had been dancing with a beer in his hands at first, but then put it down because we were becoming pretty energetic.  We cleared a pretty solid space on the dance floor because we were moving all over the place and even attracted a small audience.  It was epic.  He was completely appropriate and didn’t try any funny business – entirely a gentleman.

Salsa Dancing Dog GIF - Salsa Dancing Dog

A salsa dancing dog. Family, can we talk about training Doogan to do this?

When the song ended and I thanked him for the dance, he returned the thanks and moved on to find another partner, instead of hanging on for song after song.  It was refreshing.
Obviously, they weren’t all as respectful as that guy, but if you told them to go away, they took the hint for the most part.  There are exceptions to every rule, but it’s nice to know that somewhere in the world they’ll actually dance with you (none of this shuffling business) and respect your wishes.
I leave you with yet another gratuitous beach picture:

Right across the street from our hotel.

Next post:  The Belgian Who May Have Changed My Life