June 17, 2010
Trinidad, Cuba
Elevation: 65M
Humidity: UES ladies would pay a fortune to have pores this clean!
Just to the right of Plaza Mayor is a set of steps and that is Casa de la Musica. It is an outdoor bar where there is music every night. A different band plays nightly from 9pm onward and both the locals and tourists alike gather for a little dancing and a little drinking. Surprisingly (or maybe not), drinking is not the main thing here, dancing is. Yet very few par-take.
Nightly, the white wrought iron table fills up with tourists, then the steps fill up with backpackers and locals. I have come here every night and it has a been a highlight of Trinidad for me. As I watch the ongoings every night (and dance with the locals, abandoning all concern) I realized a micro-universe is playing out right here on the steps of Casa de la Musica.
First, there is the band. Without them, there would be no reason for this gathering. The creators/artists who transforms the ordinary into the extraordinary and yet they must hustle for what little tip money can be gotten. Then there is the patrons, the travelers with some disposal income. They sit there as the master of the universe and believe that all of this is for them. Then comes the locals. There are two types, the ones who come here to hang out and socialize with their friends and those who are here trying for a little something more. They come up and ask the strangers to dance, most say no and very few say yes. Jinetero is something both the LP and friends have warned me of. One night as I danced with a local guy another warned me that if I dance with them they might expect to “share my air conditioning. ” I get it and have declined invitations to dance the first night because of this concern. Yet as I get a better grasp on the culture, I realize that it will only go as far as you allow for it to go. Latin men might none stop with their rude remarks but they are not relentless.
In this micro-universe, very few par-take in the dancing. Most simply sit and watch. Some are afraid of saying yes to the random unknown men asking them to dance while many are simply too reserved to take part. I am not an excellent salsa dancer and I am highly dependent upon my partner to lead. I am just making it up quiet a bit of the time but I can certainly follow if you can lead. Why sit on the sidelines simply because you are afraid? Heck, if I could play or sing, its possible that I would get up and sing with the band. I don’t want to sit and watch. I want to dance, I want to participate, I want to transform this moonless night into something extraordinary.
Charlie Grosso
+1 310 592 0895

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