I came to Austria. I've learned a lot here. A little German. More Spanish.
And much more salsa.
So yeah, I might have a different take on European travel. What of it?
My friend Beatriz, fellow law student, fellow traveler, una puertorriqueña y una bailarina de salsa brutal, has taught me salsa. And with my traditional (or maybe, possibly, distinctly nontraditional) enthusiasm, I've picked the most sexual, most controversial form of salsa to get attached to: reggaetón.
Bea was highly amused: reggaetón, in its current form, along with perreo, the (in the words of Wikipedia) "highly controversial" dance that goes with it, is from Puerto Rico. (In fact, her mother taught third grade to two of the current chart-toppers in the genre.)
The music is actually a mix of reggae and salsa, but it started in Panama, with their importation of Jamaican men to work on the Canal. However, the finished reggaetón "sound", as well as all the top artists, hail from Puerto Rico: it was they who took Jamaican artist Shabba Ranks' "Dem Bow" and moved the beat into fast salsa married to hip-hop to produce the distinctive sound.
And it IS distinctive: at the first measure of a reggaetón song following the more traditional salsa or (ergh) bachata, a roar goes up and the floor is suddenly bare of those who are there for romantic, old-fashioned canoodling, and full of dancers who want to get serious with their hips.
But then, I haven't really answered the basic question: What is it that makes me love it so?
Remember my blog post "Put Another Dime In the Jukebox, Baby"? Take that and multiply it.
Because even though the music is far more basic and less- well, less layered- the neurochemical and adrenal response to it, in anyone who knows how to dance, is 10 times as strong.
Strong enough, in a 90-degree club, to thud through the soles of your feet to the muscles in your hips and thighs, up through your abdomen and into your shoulders.
Strong enough to move your body in ways that normally require about the same ambient temperature but far, far less clothing.
That's where perreo comes in.
Perreo is- well, it's a dance that outrages people who do the lambada. Get the picture?
And the name? Perreo means "to act like a dog"... figure it out.
Here's the thing, though: I love reggaetón (and damn if I'm not actually getting good at it for a gringa, even by Latin standards), it's just... I don't like people touching me when I dance.
Unless it's a person with whom I'm romantically involved... and even then I don't like bumping and grinding. ICK.
But I think if I got to hang around Bea- and Mario, and Gensil, and Pablo- long enough, they might have overcome my prejudices on even that.
Luckily for my dearly cherished hangups, we leave here in a day and a half: she to Paris and Barcelona, me to Florence and Vienna.
But we'll see each other again at Christmas.
And Nashville had better look out.
***Chorus of an utterly addictive song by Daddy Yankee, who is himself more than a little drugging. A ella la gusta las gasolina (dame más gasolina!)...
8/02/2007 at 09:31
Dame más gasolina!***
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