A week ago, I was a part of something awesome! There was a festival called Mil Tambores, or a Thousand Drums. It was a weekend long event, and it was so much fun! It’s been going on for fifteen years, and it’s just a celebration of happiness here in Valparaiso, Chile! Friday there were poetry and song-writing contests, drawing in many wannabe artists dying to get a chance to publicize their works. Saturday there were many small parades up in the hills of Valparaiso. There was dancing and music and fun had by many families. There were so many people in the city that weekend! It was incredible!
Sunday there was a giant parade filled with music and dancing of various groups. There was samba and salsa and dances from the north of Chile and the south of Chile all being performed. There was also body painting going on at the beach, where people could wear as little clothing as they wanted and get their bodies covered in artwork. Some pictures are amazing!!!
Sunday is where my fun came in, too. Since I’ve been here, I’ve participated in a samba group. Every Saturday I’ve gone to a two-hour practice, just learning the samba step itself and learning to move more sensually. This group performed in that big parade, and I got to be part of it! We wore heels and a miniskirts and had to sew sequins and beads on to a bra to wear. I would have never worn such little clothing back at home, no matter what the reason. But I figured I wouldn’t get this opportunity again, so I went for it. And it was a blast! Afterward my feet hurt and I was sunburned, but I’m so glad I danced in the parade. It was an amazing opportunity to participate in Chilean culture and break out of my comfort zone!
Dancing is such a fun activity. It is crazy to think that there is dancing all over the world, and people use it in celebrations, in weddings, in death, and just as a social event. I am not certain how big of a role dancing has played in Chile’s history, but it is playing a big part in my travels here!
I have been participating in a samba group that meets on Saturdays pretty close to where I live. One of the program employee dances, and she invites anybody who wants to come and learn a bit. Samba is a pretty fun dance. I do not think it is necessarily pretty, but it is fun to watch and to do. The group is all Chileans, and then the few of us from the program who want to learn. There is also a drum group that practices with us so that we can practice at tempo. There is a whole lot of fun involved, too!
I am also in a dance class called “Traditional Chilean Dances.” That class has been a blast since day one. It is only available for study abroad kids, so we are all incredibly awkward and not great dancers. Most dances involve a lot of hip action, trying to be “flirty and sexy,” and that just makes us all even more awkward. That class is a good time all the time.
The one dance we definitely need to know is called “La Cueca.” It is Chile’s national dance, and during their independence days, September 18 and 19, it is danced all around the country! La Cueca is very fun to do, but it takes a lot of practice. I have always been able to pick out the beat of a song and move to that beat, but Cueca is not like that. It is more following your partner and what feels right. I like it, but it has been a challenge. Whether I am moving my feet or my hips, or some combination of the two, I am glad that I have been dancing since I have arrived. It is great exercise, and motivates me to make friends.