Wednesday, January 21, 2009

El Dia de La Virgen de Altagracia

Today was the holiday celebrating the Virgin of Altagracia. The university was closed and I went to a block party with my family. This party was the livliest religious celebration I've ever attended!

It was held in a community center. Agaist the back wall was an alter full of candles, pictures, and statues of the Virgen. There was delicious food and LOTS of dancing!

I was the only gringa at the event and did I ever stick out! Not just because of my skin and hair color, but my inability to dance as well. The music was primarily merengue tipico, merengue con palos, and some bachata here and there. My host dad insisted that his friends teach me how to dance and that they did.

Merengue tipico is much faster than the popular merengue I've been hearing in clubs and merengue con palos through in tons of complex rhythm that I was not prepared for at all.

I feel like I'm really starting to get the hang out merengue, expect that it's so hard to keep my shoulders still! Last night at the discoteca and today at the fiesta as well, my dance partners would press my shoulders down to keep them from moving.

There was one woman today who was the craziest dancer I've ever seen! Every inch of her body -- including her shoulders -- was in constant, extremely fast motion! Her arms were flailing, she was kicked her legs, shaking her hips, and having the most fun in the world while staying in perfect rhythm! It was amazing.

My host dad told me that most of my music I heard today was folkloric music and that the palo drumming is from the south. I loved it! I though the discotecas were lively, but none that I've been to have been nearly as lively as this fiesta was! I need to find places that play this kind of music!

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