El Gusto del Zapateado

I first saw her in one of the galleries. She was the assistant to the woman performing as “Not Allowed to be Nude” or “Misplaced Madonna.” She was tall and lanky with short hair. She work a skinny black suit and dark sunglasses. She was the butch version of the proper museum docent.

At the reception following la Pocha Nostra’s The New Barbarians, Rio, Mariela and I sipped chilled white wine and munched on veggies and chicken kebabs while waiting for the performers to make their entrance. Soon after, the four main members of La Pocha Nostra — out of makeup and fully dressed — joined the San Francisco art crowd. The organizer of the show, a short dark-haired Latina, thanked the performers. Everyone clapped except for the alt-docent. She stomped hard on the wooden floor.

She had a good stomp. Like the stomps of a jaranero in the middle of a fandango. Or the zapateado of kids in a ballet folklórico troupe dancing to el Canelo or el Gusto.

In that moment, I wanted nothing more than to be 13 years old again, at the height of my short-lived dance career.

Ballet Folkórico days (circa 1993)

My favorite dances were from Veracruz, with Sonajas from Michoacán coming in a close second. I loved donning the lacy white skirt and blouse with the black appliquéd apron and fanning myself with a lacy fan. I wore makeup back then, but only because being on stage required red lips and brightly done up eyes. We all wore dangly earrings

I wanted to dance on the tarima (wooden platform) and tie a red ribbon into a perfect bow during La Bamba. I wanted to dance El Torito Jarocho as the music cut out. We’d perfectly mimic the beat with our nailed heels and toes. And everyone in the crowd would just watch in awe.

I really want to dance again.

Partly inspired by Los Lobos’ La Pistola y el Corazón which includes wonderful renditions of El Gusto, Canelo and Sonajas. You can listen to the latter two on my muxtape.

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4 thoughts on “El Gusto del Zapateado

  1. do it, man. i don’t know why we let go of so many things in our adult lives. i was thinking the other day how good schoolkids have it- free music lessons, choir, art classes, dance groups.. the cost of getting back into some of these pursuits (or learning new things you didn’t appreciate/dare try then) years later is painful sometimes, but worth it.

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