Tuesday, August 09, 2005


Let´s Dance!

After the market on Saturday, I met up with some friends I met on my jungle tour, and we went out dancing. To my surprise, Otavalo (population 26,000) gave me one of the best nights out I´ve had in South America! We went to a peña, a club which normally features local bands, sometimes salsa, sometimes traditional music. On this particular night, the band was a cover band, basically playing the Latino Top 40. They were great! It was an 11-ish-piece group, with three singers who did boy-band type dance moves as they sang. It was hilarious. They broke it up occasionally to do little contests and give away t-shirts to celebrate the peña´s 5-year anniversary. For example, they got the entire crowded room hopping back and forth holding on to each other´s shoulders, or doing the macarena, and once got some people on stage to see who could move their hips best and fastest. Aside from another small group who left before us, we were the only gringos in the place, and despite our best efforts we were completely humbled by the moves of the locals, who seem to grow up with music in their blood.

There was more dancing two days later in Ibarra (although this time with no participation). After running out of churches to visit in this quiet town, Dad and I went up to a lookout point on top of a hill, and from there we could hear the sounds of music on the other side. We went to check it out and found a traditional dance festival. We never really got to the bottom of the story behind the dance, but it involved lots of men and boys dressed up in drag (traditional indigenous drag, that is, complete with long black yarn braids in their hair) and dancing around in a circle, led by men dressed up with long white beards, hats and sheepskin chaps! It was really fun to watch...although I missed my boy-band from Saturday night. If ever I get married in South America, I will find them to play at my wedding.