Saturday, March 14, 2015

If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution

You can never go back.  You can never go home.  
Every day is a new experience, and that experience, being fresh in the mind, to some extent takes over in the memory department, overlaying things that happened the day, week, month, or year before.  If it involves a particular place or person, the new memory gets added in at the top of the list.   I’ve used this “overwriting” to ease unpleasant times in my life.  I had a tough time once in a particular Austin restaurant when a woman I’d fallen deeply in love with dumped me just after the waiter served our salads.  Some months later I made myself return to that same restaurant with a new love and that sweet experience helped cover up the memory of the post salad death spiral I’d had the previous year.  Like a layer of varnish, the new time laid a coat down over the old, coated I say, not covered.  All the old stuff is still there, still to be remembered, just dimmer than before.  Now when I recall that particular restaurant I recall good times with a little bit of sadness in the background.  A habit I’ve developed which I hope is not related is that I tend to eat my salad at the end of the meal now.

And so it is as you return to your home town after going off to make your way in the world.  Change is everywhere, startlingly apparent except to those who stayed behind.  Years ago when I returned home to pay homage to the parents I found they had aged.  The house had shrunk, the town had grown, and everything was a bit more worn than what I remembered.  Over the years, after many yearly visits, the memories of the place are multi-layered and the early memories have faded slowly.

As we travel we notice this when we return to familiar haunts.  It’s never quite the same.  Our first trip down the coast of Mexico was all wild and strange.  We had scary times and wonderful times.  The first time we anchored in Chacala the pacific rollers rocked the anchorage and we worried about our anchor holding in the soft mud as Connie and I hugged each other trying to get some sleep in the main cabin.  The next year, the rollers were not so big... but they were.. and the town was quite less mysterious.

Dinghy Dock at Marina La Cruz.  See our green one?

We’ve heard a lot of music in the last three years of cruising Mexico and one of the good places to hear live music in Banderas Bay is in the little town of La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.   During our first visit three years ago the little restaurant next to the marina office had occasional live music.  One night as we walked up the gangway we heard the sounds of a sweet acoustical guitar drifting our way.  We found the venue and some friends and had our first glimpse of the band Luna Rumba:  Cheko on guitar and vocals, and Geo on guitar, violin, and mandolin with Carlos Mancilla doing percussion.  Within minutes the music brought us to our feet and we danced to the Latin sounds and lyrics.   From the smiles on the musician’s faces we knew they appreciated how we let their music carry our minds and bodies away.  Soon we had the dance floor full of couples swaying in their own particular ways.  Don’t you love seeing an older couple shuffle on to the dance floor and move together as one?

Again that year, we saw Luna Rumba and again we danced, breaking the ice so other couples would not have to brave being the first on the floor.  Year two, back in La Cruz we found the band playing at Philos Bar, a place known as THE place for the older cruising crowd to hear live music, eat ribs, drink beer and dance.  Cheko and Geo recognized us and said hello and they told us how they appreciate us moving to their music.  As a musician, Connie knows this feeling as when she performed with Ocho Pies or Obrador the band thought the musical experience was greatly enhanced whenever people danced. Audience participation; it makes musicians happy.  It’s funny how often it is that children will be the first to jump up and start dancing when they see and hear live music. Adults sometimes need a little time to get over their shyness.  Here’s a curious tidbit: In the African culture there is only one word for music and it means all three concepts:  drumming, singing, and dancing.   The European culture is one of the few to embrace the strange concept of sitting still while listening to musicians play. 

As you see, we’ve had lots of good memories of listening to great music in La Cruz and of dancing to the rhythms of the town.  Such memories set the scene for our arrival here in La Cruz for the third year in a row.   We walked the streets of town at night hearing scraps of live music.  We passed by Geko Rojo where a band was playing yet another rendition of “Hotel California.”  Philo’s was quiet for the night.  Around the corner from the closed up Octopus Garden we heard a little blues riff that brought us around the corner and up some stairs to Charlie’s Place where three guys were playing the blues.  We listened, we met, we made friends.  The next week Connie was joining them on percussion.

Luna Rumba was scheduled to play at Philo’s the next week so we got the last two tickets to the show.  Normally Philo doesn’t have a cover but as Luna Rumba had become very popular over the last few seasons they instituted a 100 peso cover and assigned seating.  We arrived a few minutes early and found our seats in the back near the bar.  Next to us was a threesome who Connie had met previously on the dock.  They owned a fancy racing sailboat and had a house in the hills.  The other day, as Connie had welcomed them to the dock the woman said, “No no. WE live here.”  The man was brusque and seemed in an ill temper.  Maybe they had a bad day sailing.   Sometimes we meet people who are just not our kind of folks.  If so, we just move on by.  I have to say, though, the huge majority of the boaters we meet on the docks and in the anchorage are very friendly and will be helpful in the extreme if help is needed.

So, back at Philo’s.  Oh great! We are sitting next to these grumps.   After the opening song, Connie and I gathered up our drinks and moved to an empty table closer to the stage with a much better view.  There were other open tables if someone else wanted to move closer to the stage.  Our grumpy neighbors stayed put in their assigned seats.

As the band played we noticed a four by four foot wooden platform on the dance floor.  We asked Geo’s wife who was running the door what that was about and she said Lilly Alcantara, a dancer,  would be coming out on occasion.  “But can we dance on the dance floor?”  “Of course.” was her answer.  Permission granted, Connie couldn’t stand still any longer and we jumped up and danced on one side of the little dance floor letting the music and the memories take us away.  A few songs later Lilly appeared, rushing out in a swoop and using lots of hand and arm movements with a fixed smile on her lips.  She had several costume changes and would leap onto the little wooden platform and swish around giving the crowd something else to look at besides the musicians.  We thought it a little strange to have this theatrical addition here at the old Philo’s Bar but evidently Lilly is now a permanent fixture in the band.  One time we got chased off the dance floor by the young dancer as she flung herself around in the spotlight.  OK, so it’s not the same, but we’re hearing good music and we are dancing to some of it. 

When we returned to our seats the old guy in front of me gave me the thumbs up.  “Good on ya.”  The next time we left the dance floor a whole table applauded us to our seats, this a little embarrassing to me but a good feeling overall.  As I’d catch people’s eye they’d smile.  We were all having a good time.  It was not the same as last year but it was good.

After the final song we were finishing our wine and waiting to pay our bill as the waiters rushed to and fro trying to wrap up the evening.  A man came up to me and bent low.  Clearly he had something to communicate to me.  “Are you totally self-absorbed, or just an asshole?”, he said and turned on his heal to go back to his seat.  These were next to the seats we originally had, yes, with the not so nice racing couple.  Not understanding what his meaning  was yet knowing it was nothing good I got up and went straight away across the room to their seats.  “What is it you mean by am I totally self-absorbed or just an asshole?  What is the problem here?”  He explained that our dancing got in the way of their viewing of the band.  I looked to the stage and sure enough, a couple dancing on the floor would somewhat block the view of the band.  But to say such a thing at the end of the night when there was nothing to be done for it otherwise was such a rude thing to do!  I told him so and we had a heated discussion. Connie joined the fray and was shocked at their smugness and attitude.  I got no apology.  Connie was livid.  The gals at the bar behind them spoke up saying that they had been told to be quiet by these same folks and they also felt they had been treated rudely.
Arrow points at special seating reserved for rude people.
Connie started to cry, the waiters tried to console, “What’s wrong?  What has happened?”  While Connie tried to pay the bill I visited the restroom and coming back out found myself quite unsatisfied with what had just happened.  I stood a table away and glared at the rude man who had quite ruined our evening.  He kept glancing up then looking away.  I then went around to the front of his table and stood there pointing at him, shaking my head back and forth.  Everyone around was watching me do this and had been watching the tears run down Connie’s cheeks.  I hoped to shame that rude man. 

It takes lots of processing to get over an encounter with a rude person.  Should I have asked him outside and thrown him to the ground?  No.  Not only would that be wrong but I might have got my butt kicked.  Could I have said some things better?  Yes.  By morning we both had it pretty well processed.  On the morning radio net we heard about another cruising acquaintance who had been assaulted by someone in a bar who was drunk and thought his wife had been kissed by this guy.  Wow, there was some bad karma floating around last night around closing time.  That news lowered our story in significance.  I’m glad I didn’t punch him.

Will we go to Philo’s again?  Probably so.  Will we see Luna Rumba again?  Maybe.  But it won’t be the same.  We now have a thick filmy layer crudely brushed over the sweet memories of years past.  In time it will recede and we’ll find new music in this town of music.  In fact, tonight Connie is joining a threesome playing at Anna Bananas and this time not only play percussion but she gets to sing! 

“If I can't dance I don't want to be in your revolution.”  

Emma Goldman, turn of the century political activist described by some as “the most dangerous woman in America.”

1 comment:

  1. There's a TV show by that name ...