Dance Around The World – Antigua, Guatemala
I spent three fabulous weeks in Guatemala, most of which were in the city of Antigua. It’s one of the friendlies places I’ve ever been. Literally, everyone young and old will say good morning, afternoon, or nigh to you. Plus it’s beauty is equal to no other city in Central America.
While in Antigua, I came across dance in the streets, at my Spanish school, and even at a wine shop. Yes, there were dance schools, but it seemed silly to pay when the locals were willing to grab your hand and teach you how to dance wherever you were standing. Although many have told me that Guatemala is not a dancing country, I beg to differ. I caught several moments of dance. Frankly, I think I saw more dance alive in the streets of Antigua than I’ve ever witnessed while living in NYC, Chicago, and even San Francisco. Below is a video of some of my favorite dance moments I caught on tape and a little story about each clip.
The first clip you will see is of two young boys performing poi dancing in the streets. Poi is a kind of fire dance. (To read more about it, click here.) The two were obviously novas, as they only knew a few moves and often dropped their props. But, I respect them because they sure had guts to perform and spin around with chains on fire… they are more daring than me. Their performance was on a special day in Antigua, which is why I suspect I saw them. On this particular day, thousands of people flooded the streets after hiking the volcano for a domestic violence / violence in general walk. The city was vibrating with energy as street performers from musicians, dancers, and mimes entertained the crowds from the late afternoon to evening.
The second clip is of yours truly Salsa dancing. My Spanish school celebrates everyone’s progress as well as the graduating students every Tuesday afternoon and Thursday evening. The celebration includes drinks (rum and Pepsi), food, and Salsa dancing! In the video, I’m dancing with the instructor. Note – If you’re a trained Salsa dancer, please don’t judge. This was my second attempt after two 30 minute lessons. I think I did pretty well, but it was sure hard for me to allow someone else to boss me around the dance floor.
The third video is of my housemate Stacy. We were casually chatting about Salsa dancing at her work, a wine shop, when one of the customers grabbed her hand and said, “I’ll teach you!” I love spontaneous dance moments, so I had to catch a little of it on video.
The final clip is probably the strangest and most interesting street dancing I’ve ever encountered. My husband and I were each enjoying a delicious cappuccino when we started seeing people walk by in furry cartoon character costumes. I seriously had to do a double take; I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. There must have been 20 of them. I saw ElmerFudd, Mario & Luigi, Pepe La Pew, the Chipmunks, and countless others. Then, a truck rolled by with a massive sound system in the bed. The speakers were so large the back end of the truck bowed from the weight. Once the truck stopped, the characters began to line up two by two down the street. Then what I can only describe as annoying (to me) drumming mixed with techno music began to pulse from the speakers. This ignited the characters into a bounce followed by a series of jumps, kicks, and turns. It was quite a sight. After heading back home, to the B&B, I learned from the owner that it’s a kind of masquerade dance parade. In Guatemala it’s called Comvite, which translates to treat. It’s a local tradition that is performed every year and passed down through family members. This year just happened to be cartoon characters, but they are also know to dress as tv characters, politicians, and celebrities. Needless to say, I was thrilled by this dance treat on my last day in Antigua.
Learning something new everyday and loving it!
– The Offbeat Ballerina