Peruvian people love many things, but perhaps if they were hard-pressed, they'd narrow their favorites to dancing and socializing. After meeting some of the local LDS young single adults last week, I was invited to a birthday party for one of the girls. I wasn't sure how I was going to get there after my class on Friday, but arrangements were made to have some of the members meet me at the university after my class. Or so I thought at that point. Phone numbers were exchanged and the soon-to-be birthday girl (who spoke English and studies at BYU) assured me I was welcome after I confessed I didn't want to invite myself to her party.
After a long week of teaching, Friday finally came around. The woman who was supposed to meet me called me but I was in class. I hemmed and hawed about whether to go or not. I was tired, a nice quiet evening on the computer sounded fine to me. Parties where I don't really know people are frightening enough, but a whole party where I could literally only talk to a handful of people, why on God's green earth would I do that to myself?
Cell phones work differently here and because she was on a different network or I didn't have a good prepaid phone plan, I couldn't call her back. However, texting works fine. I finally decided I should go, I felt like a flake if I didn't attend. So, we sent a few texts back in forth - in my poor written Spanish and her English. I actually finally had one of my students send her a text for me. We agreed to meet at the main gate of the university at 8:45. After class, I hustled to turn in my cartuchara (multimedia case) and race to the main gate. I met three people from the ward and they hailed a taxi. We arrived at the house and I nervously went in with the group. I have to confess, greetings can be awkward - speaking of adaptation and accommodation - do I adapt to the kiss on the cheek with men and women - or just let them accommodation me as an American and shake their hand? Mostly with women, it's been a kiss on the cheek and hug - and so far with men, it's been either way. I play off what the other person does.
So here I was, in a house full of people I had just met, but everyone was very friendly and nice to me. Here I was worried we were late - the party was supposed to start at 8, but we got there after 9 and it hadn't really started. I worked on my Spanish and other guests worked on their English.
Then the music and dancing started. Man, these kids could move. I enjoyed watching people dance. They made it look so natural as they swayed and shook to cumbia, merengue, and salsa music. LDS Church dances had nothing on this party. Guys actually asked girls to dance! Yet, just like in the US, when a slower song came on, everyone scurried to their chairs and emptied the dance floor - but only for a few minutes before it filled up again.
A few guests teased me that I should dance. The birthday girl said I should dance, so I promised her the next dance I would. I do confess, I like dancing, I just don't feel I'm good at it - let alone trying Latin dancing in Peru!
Suddenly, the strains of "Moves Like Jagger" by Maroon 5 started pumping out of the speakers and the group started chanting "Emily! Emily! Emily!" Yes... me. No other Emily was there but blonde and white me.
So, I hit the floor and I shook my groove thing and danced. People were watching what I was doing and some copied me. Uh oh. They even told me I was a good dancer! Me? Double uh oh. While I didn't take a spin on the dance floor during the Latin music, when something with a beat I was familiar with came on on- like American oldies, hip-hop, or dance songs- I ventured on the floor. I got into dancing and just had fun. If people thought I was a fool, they probably thought I was just doing what all the other Americans do... hah hah sorry to my country for misleading the young adults of Piura!
Also, I was actually was asked to dance a couple of times - something that never happens in the US. Hey, even if it was a pity dance, it was more action that I got in the states at a dance.
The party wasn't over, but finally at 1 am, my friend and I went home. I don't know how much longer the socializing went but I am glad I went, even if somewhere Mick Jagger was feeling ill because of my moves.