Daydreaming during the Flamenco Show
“What did you think of the show?” – Spanish teacher
“Intense! Strong!” – Me
“Incredible” – Jon
“Passionate” – Classmate #1
“Weird” – Classmate #2
Two hours earlier, amongst students from our school, we sat in the second row maybe 10 feet from the stage of the intimate Flamenco theater. I took a sip of sangria and the lights dimmed.
Calm strumming of a guitar and soft clapping commenced by two men seated on chairs on the tiny stage under a spot light. The singer sang in Spanish of course with long drawn out vowels, and a pitch that went from high to low many times with each word. He was mourning something. His voice faded and he continued clapping softly along with the guitar. My mind drifted and I pictured us at home in San Diego amongst family and friends. Some people have asked us lately if we would consider traveling forever and having “location independent careers.” While bouncing around from country to country has been a thrill, we have realized that this isn’t a long term gig for us and we’re really looking forward to returning home and resetting our roots. We have been feeling a little homesick lately and have found ourselves dreaming of beach volleyball, the sound of ocean waves, and California burritos. My mouth watering, I sipped my sangria, and the music stopped.
A striking woman in a gorgeous long, white, flowy dress ascended onto the stage. She lifted up the bottom of her skirt towards her knees to expose her wooden clog type shoes and fishnet stockings. Her feet began to move slowly at first and then rapidly. Her clogs slammed against the floor with vigor as if she was surrounded by cockroaches and she was on a mission to destroy! Even though it was her feet, the clapping, the guitar, and the singing that was clawing at my attention, it was the intensity in her unmoving eyes fixated upon a point behind us that consumed me. So focused, so present, yet so far far away. No one from our class dared to move and risk breaking her gaze. Our focus on learning Spanish has been almost as intense this past month. 3 hours of class 5 days per week, an additional hour or so spent practicing with friends at a local tapas bar, and sometimes 2 more if we decide to participate in the school organized evening activity like tonight. Our focus has been so narrow that we’ve been what I call socially anti-social. That is, we’ve made friends, close friends in fact, but only with the small handful of students who speak Spanish outside of class. We refuse to speak English on school trips, during the break, or basically in any social setting. This seems to turn off some students who want to make friends, using English. I totally understand that, even if they wanted to, beginner learners just aren’t able to have conversations in Spanish yet. We were them just 8 months ago. Hanging out with people who only spoke Spanish was scary and limiting. I could never quite express what I wanted to and found myself just standing there listening and nodding as if I understood. It’s not that we don’t want to be their friends, we have just decided to stick to our guns and only speak in Spanish (outside of the apartment that is). Like the intense gaze of the Flamenco dancer, our quest to be as fluent in Spanish as possible is rigid, unmoving, and may scare some people off. And we are determined to continue this quest when we return to San Diego. IT CAN BE DONE, we keep telling ourselves. (Who’s in for Spanish conversation nights?) The dancers’ spastic clapping, stomping, and slapping of her hands onto her thighs and hips snaps me out of my daydream. She appears possessed as her body writhes and the music reaches it’s climax. A super loud stomp, pose, and silence. Applause. Everyone looks at each other smiling, clapping, and laughing somewhat nervously. In almost synchronicity, everyone takes a sip of the drink in front of them.
The dance continues in this manner with the addition of a male dancer who somehow manages to double the intensity of the female dancer and within minutes becomes completely drenched in sweat. Once again my mind drifts and I am 15 years old at Six Flags Magic Mountain watching my friends ride “The Plunge”. The roller coaster roars past us along with a huge splash of water and I stand there stunned and soaked head to toe. I was dryer than this dancer. Also, I somehow have recreated this scenario as I sit in the second row, the “splash zone” of his sweat.
The show ends at 10:30pm and just about everyone heads to a local bar. We decide to pass (none of our Spanish speaking friends are there), and instead head home to plunge into the last episode of Orange is the New Black. Occasionally on the show, the characters speak in Spanish, so ya know, it counts as practice. 😉
PS- Spanish tip: for those of you also on a Spanish learning quest, we found a wonderful youtube channel with tons of helpful and fun 10 minute videos. It is called Light Speed Spanish: https://www.youtube.com/user/LightSpeedSpanish
And of course, this week’s Granada photos. Enjoy!
And last but not least we wanted to give a big shout out to our Dads who we love and miss! You both bring so much joy and laughter into our lives. Thank you for raising us to be crazy travelers and giving us love and support the whole way.
Happy Father’s Day!