Friday, July 20, 2007
A summer night in the Mexican port city of Veracruz is steamy, intensely humid despite ocean breezes. To step outside is to walk into a wall of damp heat.
But several evenings a week, chairs are set up in the plaza in the shadow of the cathedral and dancers perform el danzon. This is a dance of tightly choreographed, subtle moves, that rewards long practice with a well-known partner. That is -- the best dancers are not the showy young, but the old and comfortable, who dance for the joy of movement.
The spectators, as many apparently local as from out of town, are fascinated.
These two were obviously accomplished dancers, but were perhaps a little too theatrical for this occasion. A friend wondered, "Did they just come back from Argentina?"
This couple better personified the spirit of el danzon. He was as good a dancer as any on the plaza; she had perhaps lost a step, but they danced tune after tune with quiet delight.
This child wanted to know why we were speaking English and did we like el danzon. After we gave satisfactory answers, she agreed to have her picture taken. Maybe someday she'll be out there on the floor.