Songs for the Road No. 15: Love and Cumbia in Mexico City

by Ekua on February 14, 2012 in Mexico,songs for the road,why i travel

That night, the air was thick with celebration and imminent rain. It was clear that the festive atmosphere would stand its ground despite the upcoming storm.

Earlier that evening, Mexico had won the Under 17 World Cup Games that the country had been hosting that summer. In the final moments of the last match, the classy Coyoacan restaurant bar we were watching it at momentarily transformed into a rowdy sports bar. Some of the men climbed onto the bar counter, tore off their shirts, and swung them around in joy. It certainly could not compare to an official World Cup win, but it was kind of like a celebration of the future’s potential.

And our little group, most of us Mexico-philes, were keen to participate. When the game crowd died down, we moved toward the Coyoacan neighborhood center, where streets that were lined with vendors and full of residents led to the central plazas. There, you could find practically any unhealthy night time snack you were looking for, and we went for the churros.

When the rain came, we followed the sounds of cumbia to a tent where a live band was performing. Under the tent was a gathering of all ages and genres, unified by the love of a country’s timeless songs.

When the band played this song, everyone got up to dance. The teenage hippie couple with poorly made dreadlocks danced. A drunk guy with bare feet, a shirt with the sleeves cut off, and dirty cut off jeans danced. Other people danced in a circle around him, clapping to the rhythm. The group of twenty-something hipsters danced. A family of three danced in a trio, the father taking turns spinning his wife and then his daughter.

And then the band moved on to a ballad. The pace slowed down, but the liveliness remained.  A small old man near the stage wearing a shiny gold shirt and a white cowboy hat pulled off his flashy outfit as he moved gracefully to the song with his partner. As another older couple danced, the husband reinforced the romantic lyrics by singing them emphatically to his wife. The two adults in the family of three decided to dance to this song as a duet. The little girl didn’t seem to mind being on her own for a bit. She twirled around the dance floor like a ballerina.

That rainy night, that tent housed a supreme kind of beauty. You could see it in the passion for the music and the dances that go with them. You could find it in the tolerance of the quirkiness and self-expression of members of the community and beyond. And most of all, there was beauty in the love, the palpable and all-encompassing love.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Murry February 14, 2012 at 5:04 am

Love your blog, I am also recently new to Mexico City, where are you going next? Would love to meet you!!!!

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Ekua February 15, 2012 at 10:39 pm

Thanks! Unfortunately, I’m not in Mexico City right now. I usually do the bulk of blogging about a place after I’ve left!

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Andi of My Beautiful Adventures February 14, 2012 at 7:22 pm

Your writing is SO captivating!

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Ekua February 15, 2012 at 10:40 pm

Thanks for reading :)

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Mindy and Ligeia February 14, 2013 at 6:01 pm

Very nice post and so beautifully written. We felt like we were there, even though Mexico City is so far away.
Looking forward to the next post,
Mindy and Ligeia :):)

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Chanel February 16, 2013 at 2:28 pm

This story makes me excited about visiting DF in a couple of days :)

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