Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Dancing in Mexico

Many cultures in our world simply love to dance. I’m not talking about dancing every few years at a wedding, or even the casual night out bump and grind. I am talking about the folks who pencil it in their calendars three nights a week and won’t let anything get in the way of their dancing. Mexico is one of those places, and if you want to understand Mexican culture, you need to dance. A foreigner can’t possibly understand the values and traditions of Mexico without risking embarrassment and jumping out on the dance floor. Okay, maybe it was just my 6’0 gringo butt who was embarrassed.

There are several types of dances from different places in Mexico. Everyone has their preference, but most Mexican’s can dance almost all of them. From the sexy Salsa dance, to live Banda, or the Reggaeton of the beat pumping north, all styles of dancing exist in Mexico. To truly experience the nation and people, find some locals to take you out for a night of dancing and go with the flow. Here are some tips for different types of dancing in Mexico:

Salsa Dancing

Salsa is the key to women’s heart in Mexico. If you can’t dance Salsa, your chances of getting lucky that night drop to basically nothing. When you visit big cities like Guadalajara or Mexico City, search out the local spots that are happening each night. Put your dancing shoes on, take a sip of tequila for some liquid courage, and hit the dance floor. Your nerves will settle after your first dance. Unfortunately for me, my first dance was with one of the best dancers and sexiest girls in the room (my local friend requested her services for me). My nerves were through the roof, so everything after that was relaxing.

Salsa is easier than it looks. Get the steps down and move your hips. Remember that it is a very sensual dance, so get up close and personal with your partner. For you ladies out there, the man will lead you and what is a normal dance for him will probably blow your mind. If you come from a place where dancing isn’t a focus, it will take a giant leap to get on the dance floor. But, don’t be that guy on the sidelines, be the Rico Suave on the dance floor all those guys are jealous of.

My favorite Salsa club is La Mutualista on Thursday nights in Guadalajara. A younger crowd with live Cuban music and a relaxed setting will provide a good time.

Merengue

If salsa didn’t put you and your partner close enough for you, Merengue will. This is not my favorite dance to watch, but one of my favorites to dance. Once you get down the two-step and side-to-side movements, you will feel like a pro out there. Be sure to have a good amount of space around you because this dance will take you all over the floor.

Cumbia

Salsa and line dancing don’t mix well in my book, but it is very traditional in Mexico. When you are out at a bar in a small town, and everyone gets in lines to dance, you better follow suit. Show respect for their culture by putting in a solid effort. Personally, I failed quickly, but at least I tried (twice!).

Banda
Live Banda in Aguascalientes
Certain places in Mexico love their banda music. A giant brass band starts blaring tunes that make you want to jump around, and that is exactly what the banda dance is. At first, you will be shocked to see some of the younger crowd bouncing around, but if you can get the hang of it you will understand how much fun it is. Mexicans either love or hate banda music, and foreigners often fall on the strongly dislike side, but give it a chance. For a raw banda experience, visit the Feria de San Marcos in Aguascalientes and have one of the thousands of bands on the street play you a couple songs. Now you know you are deep in Mexican culture.

Reggaeton 

My love for northern Mexico, mainly Tijuana, has put Reggaeton in a special place in my heart. If bumping and grinding is your thing, take it to the next level with Reggaeton. This dance isn’t for the light hearted, and most Mexican’s south of Baja will mock it, but a few tequila shots mixed with fist pumping music will sure bring out the dirty dancer in you. If you thought your high school prom was grinding, think again.

Folklorico 
Folklorico in Zacatecas, Mexico
Ballet Folklorico isn’t in the same boat as the other dance forms because it is choreographed and is not something you would run into at a night club in Mexico. It is though, my favorite dance to watch. Women in beautiful bright dresses and men in traditional Charro outfits put on a show that makes me wish I knew how to dance. One of my goals in life is to join a Folklorico team in Mexico and perform, but I’m not yet sure they will let me. If you want to see the beautiful colors of Mexico, attend a live Ballet Folklorico, you won’t be disappointed.

4 comments:

Tom said...

hah, so where is the video where you are dancing then?

:)

UNOMOS said...

Hidden very well on my computer, saving the world from having to watch it

Aryana said...

Hey,great dance perform through this Video,i which place r you catch this video,Really nice :)

UNOMOS said...

The video was taken on the streets of Guadalajara during a free music festival. It was an amazing night.