August 05, 2009


The old adage (and now a Jonas Brothers song) don't know what you got till it's gone is so fitting for this chica. I grew up in a family where the sounds of nuestra musica and the scents of mami's comida paced my day. En la mañana, the gurgling cafetera would release an enticing aroma that wafted into my room and let me know that I had to wake up. Soon after, someone turned on some music.

When it was time to clean, my mother would dance with the broom while pausing from the otherwise boring chore of sweeping. "Wanna practice those fast turns?" she'd ask me. "Mija, open the door and pretend that's your partner. Spin your body on beat and catch the doorknob; that's his hand silly! " We'd whisk through the house work with un chin de salsa aqui and un merengueito alla.

In Houston, on the weekends, bailando hasta las quince de la mañana was not just a lyric for me and my friends. It was our creedo. Sylvia, Jennifer, Rachel, Nani, Jess and I would make our way past the line outside Crystal, head for the bar pa' un trago and check out what the DJ was playing in both rooms. This place had American music in the back room and Latino music in the front room. The hallway resembled a New York City subway station.

In Miami, Spam Allstars provided an escape from my grief after Mami passed away. Cristina, Yvette and I would indulge in my version of therapy. We coined it Beach Therapy. My reply to every
problem would be simple "Chica, fuck that shit! Ven pa' la play, Spam is playing!"

After meeting my husband and relocating to casa pal carajo North Carolina, I missed all the dancing I used to take for granted. I sort of resigned myself to the idea that if I wanted to dance I'd have to hop on a plane. I had tried going to a few places and noticed that folks here just don't dance. They stand around and drink and talk and drink and talk some more. You get the idea.

A few weeks ago I stumbled onto a great dancing scene. Turns out that folks here do come out and dance. They find a safe spot for their street shoes, put on their dancing shoes and get to steppin'. Yeah, they're that serious, that they've got 'dancing shoes'. The whole room fills up with dancers on every level. From the anxious newbies fresh out of their first class that are counting along to the song to keep their beat and master that 'basic' step to the rusty old-timer that picks up where they left off before life got so busy that dancing lost it's priority. Although Mami is no longer here and my closest of friends are thousands of miles from me, last night they were all with en mi corazón as I danced.


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