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The Host

pbernal's picture

Jessica Bernal

ESEM- Play in the City


The Host


“¡Mija! No no no, you’re not moving your hips, you’re not doing it right.” Usa tus caderas, use your hips. Family gatherings, dinners, parties, whatever you would like to call it, they were nothing without the cumbia, merengue, and bachata music playing in the background. All the worries were left at the doorstep the moment the music blared through the speakers. I’m sitting in the corner of the room, watching as they turn the living room into the dance floor. All the tables we just finished eating dinner on are being folded and stored away, making room for the moment of the night. The moment we all come together and shake it out. There’s no need for alcohol or drugs when you’re high with overwhelming emotion of the rhythm taking over your body.

My legs are jittering in place screaming let me get in there let me shuffle. I can feel the drums, the electric piano, and the shakers, all of it coming together creating this beautiful rhythm taking over my body to the point where the music hosts my body. Deep play is something intimate and exclusive to the individual. It’s a moment of self-indulgence and complete euphoria. When I’m dancing cumbia, I get an overflowing feeling of tingles running from my toes to my arms wanting to prance out of my seat and sway my hips to the rhythm of the music.

I grew up watching my mom dance when she’d cook, clean, do the laundry, the moment cumbia came out of those speakers, she’d start swaying as if it were uncontrollable. When I was younger and we’d go to parties, I loved watching how happy and infinite the couples dancing on the dance floor would look. I wanted to feel that, I wanted to smile from corner to corner of my face like my mom when I danced cumbia. Growing up, we’d go to weddings, quinceaneras, any ceremonial celebrations and I’d love to watch the couples dance and let the music take over their bodies. It was as if they were in their own world, while the music played, no one else is existed. I couldn’t understand how it happened, but I was so eager to learn, my hips and legs were screaming, “Yes, It’s time!”

When I’m dancing cumbia, I create a bubble. Cumbia for me is a pianist’s Beethoven, it’s an inspiration that fulfills my purpose to make everything and everyone in the dancefloor disappear except for the music and the person you’re dancing with. I’m spinning and spinning as he turns me and everything fades in the distance. I can feel the sweat dripping down my back and my hair flowing from side to side as we spin through the dancefloor like tornadoes only more gentle to the beat of the music. I can’t control the exhilaration and happiness I get from my body the moment I hear the music play off in the distance. I can’t keep still and I just want to lance on to the dancefloor like a predator on its prey.

Dancing latin music like merengue, bachata, and especially cumbia, brings out a more intimate and passionate side of me. The rhythm of the music takes over and allows me to loosen up and move my hips and arms in ways I wouldn’t be able to. Cumbia, is my deep play, the electric shock that hosts my body and reminds me of growing up with a large family filled with smiles, at least until the music stopped.