They waited months to return, now regardless of the rain, and they came from the most remote parts of the city and the State of Mexico, just for the fun of doing what they like: moving their body to the rhythm of cumbias and other bars, such as if it were the last hours of their lives. It is the afternoon of a Friday, although it may be a Saturday.
You look at that lady who sweats and that short man with tanned skin, who jumps and dances around her. It’s a top. The pigeon and the dove. A couple that makes their way through that crowd that is careful not to run over each other and tries to keep an impossible distance, because somehow they touch and refresh their bodies in constant movement.
Most of them cover half their faces, right, and they know that the mask is here to stay; although others, few, bring it under their noses from so much jiggling, but when they realize they raise it, although after a while it goes down again.
This is a truce that they gave themselves and stormed the Citadel. They left their houses to move their bodies and slide their soles on the popular esplanade, next to the Balderas Metro station, where the diyei searches for the exact melody among a lot of pirate cidis.
The entertainer, a sixty-six-year-old man with thick wrinkles piling up on his face, launches phrases from the edge of the track, under a shed from which rainwater drips.
“We are going to dance, ladies and gentlemen, grab your couple, this time, with this cumbanchita”, it is heard in two speakers, one hanging from the tent and a speaker at floor level, in front of the diyei.
A dancer in a raincoat draws circles with the tips of his shoes. The belt of his garment flies off. Spread your hands as if you were in a ring. It is their way of dancing on this gray, rainy afternoon, which they face to the rhythm of cumbias and guarachas.
Sporadic couples begin to arrive with some care, measuring the environment with reticent glances, freshly bathed, combed and perfumed, leaden feet, like distrustful cats, until entering that atmosphere of hubbub where dance connects them.
A woman is mixed with small globs that she offers in exchange for a coin, because someone has to pay for the sound, which consists of an old device tanned in street gigs, like this one in which they gather, sometimes more, sometimes less, as surviving dance halls keep their doors closed due to this pandemic that does not give in and threatens to return with a battery of strains.
That is why here they jump and wave hands like pinwheels, as if each piece were the last on this public esplanade, also occupied, not far from there, by onlookers and dance teachers who teach their students: one / two / three / four ; again: one / two / three / four / like this / here / hands up. Smooth, smooth, unhurried but disciplined, and even if two or three of them clash, one day they will learn.
And here are Roberto Hernández and Idalia Terán, regulars of this happy club, who have been linked by dance for thirty years. On weekends they danced in two rooms, Tlatelolco and Caribe, closed at the beginning of the pandemic; now, with the necessary care, because they wear face masks, they resist the virus cutting their wings and they give pleasure to the body.
He is forty years old and twenty-five dancing. He likes cumbias and guarachas, although he does not disdain any other, if there is no alternative. Idalia, meanwhile, started dancing at twenty and has thirty years of taking off in this dance. He feels more comfortable with salsa, cumbia, danzón and guaracha.
“And where did you dance?”
“Before, in California, in Candela, in the Caribbean and in Tlatelolco,” says Idalia Terán.
And while most scrape the floor, others are chased away by the rain; Of course, there is no shortage of those who carry their own tent, under which there will always be the same teacher who strives to mark the pace of his students: one / two / three / one / two / three; once again please…
Silvia Luna, who started dancing at the age of six, lets herself come from Ecatepec, State of Mexico, she says, and confesses that she has no preference for a special genre of music; she is moved by any rhythm, “of everything”, without distinction, “because dance is a therapy that takes away your stress; that’s why I tell them: come dance ”.
Under the largest shed, installed by the authorities, stands out the voice of the entertainer Jesús Ángel Hernández Cruz, born in the 10 de Mayo neighborhood, with forty years of experience as a sonidero in Ciudad Neza, a Mexican municipality in which he moved with his sound Puerto Rico, but “as in everything,” he says with a hint of nostalgia, “it goes up and down.”
“How about here?”
—With the music we bring and our sound experience, people prefer us because they have fun.
—And what music do you prefer?
—Matancera, cumbias, salsa, rumba, guaracha; all genres of dance music, the ones here, like this time.
“And are you an entertainer or a diyei?”
“At that time I was a diyei and an entertainer, now just an entertainer.”
“Where do people come from?”
“From different parts of the city.” Also from Ecatepec, Naucalpan, they come from Anahuac, Doctors, Obrera, Morelos, Tepito, Santa María la Rivera, Guerrero.
—Like the song of the Sonora Santanera.
“That’s right, ha ha ha.”
“Have any ballrooms disappeared?”
—Well, the Colonia is one of the great salons that closed its doors and never reopened them; I know many, such as the Great Forum, the California, Los Angeles. Now there are new ones: the Caribbean, the Hidalgo, the Great Hall, the Candela.
And he makes a plea:
—Nothing more than that the government will let all of us who know music and these dancers live in peace who are enjoying and enjoying the best of music, even in compact discs, because whatever it is, it is very pleasant and sporty music. for every dancer.
And, he says, “everyone pays for some”, referring to certain individuals who suddenly want to consume alcoholic beverages; but they, the organizers of the guateque, send them flying.
Humberto Ríos Navarrete