Dancing the streets of South America – Caracas, Venezuela
We are walking down the street, my two friends and I. It was our first night in Caracas, the capital of Venezuela. My friends and I stand out. Three Asians in South America. The locals tend to speak to me a little more since I guess my darker skin makes me look closest to them (though not even by much). As we walk the streets, with no map or guide, we hear the slow thrum of music from nearby. Emboldened by our numbers, we decided to explore it and so hunted down the tune meandering through alleyways and streets.
We walk straight into a true-blue street party. The main road was closed and everyone was on the streets dancing. We watched as fathers danced with their little daughters. Lovers pressed close. We watched as little groups moved a little to the left and right, and some gyrating their bodies in rhythm. We didn’t want to stick out, or look like we were crashing the party (which we were of course) but we didn’t want to not enjoy it either. So we walked to the side of the road which we thought was quieter, and couldn’t help moving to the music of the night.
Suddenly, a line of boys rushed towards us. We were shocked and scared. The boys formed a circle around us but lined themselves up about 3 feet away. And then… oh my god…
They started dancing.
There is nothing like watching a South American man dance. Especially a group of young men trying to prove their worth to women. It is innate, this skill they have, as much a part of their soul as breathing and eating. The way they move, the way they roll their bodies.
We laugh shyly, and the boys introduce themselves. It seems we had walked straight into a college end of the year party. They speak a bit of English and in between that and our non-Spanish speaking at all, we learn to communicate via dance. They invite us to dance with them, and after a while a few more friends, both male and female join us as well. They are a friendly bunch, clearly there to just enjoy the night. I hear them converse in Spanish, laugh, and watch as the men strip up their shirts to give us the great viewing pleasure of their six-packs.
We partner up, each of us, and dance the night away with them. We watch as a boy and a girl challenge each other, seeing how long they can both keep pulsating their hips to the music. The girl wins, but it was a close victory with both of them shaking for a good two minutes or so. Their concentration still evident on their faces as they stare at each other.
They gift us with head banners as a welcome sign to their country. They warn us about our handbags, and ask us to pay close attention to them as especially in big parties like these, pickpockets abound.
As the night comes to a close, they walk us back to our hotel, the whole lot of them. Laughing all along the way. As we say goodnight, my date for the evening looks at me, and asks me to marry him. Spewing promises of a great life together. I laugh, I tell him I don’t have a green card in the USA, that I only had a student visa. I leave him behind, but with him, a little piece of my heart.