Forbidden…

I used to stare at the girl’s flowing skirts, at the way they spun, laughed and twirled; and I wanted to dance, I wanted to spin, I wanted to twirl and laugh like them. I was, perhaps, eight-years-old, I can’t remember the exact age, but the image of colors melting into a blur of energy and of laughter, the feeling of their mirth feeding everything around them will forever live in my memory.

I’m talking about girls dancing Lambada, the forbidden Brazilian dance that filled my mind in the 80s. In the Dominican Republic, as well as in many other nations, music is expression with melody. Decades before the colorful 80s coated the Caribbean island, a despicable skin-bleaching, white-powder using, pile-of-dung dictator restricted the kind of music the Dominican people could listen to. Any sound that said anything negative about his reign of terror was forbidden. Oh, and music that might have suggested that Dominican heritage had any traces of anything other than Spanish and white, was violently put away *Go ahead, my Luvs, bare your teeth; the idea of my beautiful trigueño people being stripped of their colors is indeed repugnant and maddening*

Thank gods, I was born after the Trujillo regime, for I doubt my mind, heart or soul would have been able to survive those times; not without getting myself and my family in a whole lot of trouble.

However, at eight years of age, a wild heart can perceive most restrictions as ruthlessness. A parent telling said wild heart that, ‘No, you can’t spend the whole summer eating just mangoes’, can be seen as the most horrible of tyrannies. For me, it was my mom telling me that I couldn’t dance Lambada. She wouldn’t even buy me a skirt. Can you believe the horridness of this situation? I felt beyond oppressed. My heart filled with defiance; my mind concocted the most imaginative ways in which to abolish my mother’s domineering non-Lambada-skirt-wearing system. 

So what did I do to express my, um… free spirit? I acquired one of my mother’s blouses—don’t tell her, for I might have suggested that the water current took the blouse while I was doing laundry in the river. I made a skirt out of my mother’s blouse. You see, I can’t sew to save my life. Desire and determination can’t always feed the muse, at least not my sewing muse. The skirt I made was a nightmare of fabric, folds and stitches; atrocious doesn’t describe the results.

I showed up at the next Lambada dance with three other pre-pubescent rebels—think Dirty Dancing (totally for grownups, but we sneaked in anyway). The music didn’t stop when we walked in, but many people froze in mid spin. My skirt was that bad. I could barely walk with it on, but I didn’t care. I danced and danced and felt powerful. The lady, who used to close her doors to conservatism, and let people dance their hearts out, felt so bad about my sewing fiasco that she got me a real Lambada skirt. It was black, white and a shade of hot pink that looked a lot like it wanted to be congealed blood. I loved it! The word LAMBAdA, in different colors and shapes, was stamped over and over on the fabric. The skirt was long, so my mom didn’t care if I wore it. And thank goodness for that because I wore that thing until it disintegrated.

I don’t have a picture of the skirt (a camera was not the kind of thing you ran into in the village I grew up in) so when The Butterfly Effect asked for 80s inspired art I told myself, Yep, witchy woman, think Lambada and a bit of colorful rebelliousness
Join the rest of the The Butterfly Effect participants,
and delight in the way they show off their fully buttered 80s art?

44 comments:

  1. *shimmying* *twirling* and *dancing* along with you :D

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  2. So beautiful. I remember when Lambada was big. It was a huge trend where I grew up too. I felt the way you felt about Flaminco. These flowing, beautiful skirts, twirling and stomping, the flowers, the castanetas, the whooping...I wanted to be a part of it. Even at me old age, I still do.

    I am sure the stars were beaming watching you on that floor.

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    1. I think you would look gorgeous moving all your curves as a nice Flamenco beat. Hair in elaborate ringlets on top of your head, castañuelas clicking and feet tapping... yep, totally great. If I were you, I would pursuit it; dancing is laughter for the flesh ;-)

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  3. & many thanks to the Lady who gave you a skirt :)

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    1. Indeed! She was very important in my life. She also gave me the first fiction book I ever owned. Helped me understand that just because I didn't like everything everybody else liked it didn't mean that I was weird; I was just different and that was good. She was a great Lady ;-)

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  4. I love this story! A wild heart know what it wants and needs, even at 8 years old.

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    1. I totally agree. I get a bit annoyed when people say things like, "That child is young to know what he or she wants." I won't disagree that at certain ages, children might not understand why they feel a certain way, but no age is too young for a heart to know what it wants.

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  5. What a beautiful morning read! Great Goddess I love this! Thank you so much!

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    1. You are very welcome. I'm very happy you loved it so much ;-)

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  6. Love this post! Makes me miss the DR; my favorite dance is the bachata. Done with the right partner, it can be mind blowing, too. And I really enjoyed your essay on Witches Voice. Keep writing!!

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    1. My favorite dance is bachata, too! Closely followed by perico ripíao. There is something wondrous about the way our Dominican rhythms touch the soul and move the flesh, isn't it? And when danced with the right person, it is indeed capable of blowing minds. By the way, I think you might enjoy my "Listening to Bachata" post: http://pagan-culture.blogspot.com/2011/08/listening-to-bachata-music-is-lot-like.html

      I'm very glad you liked "Goddesses on Contraception!"

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  7. Oh the longings in the heart of an 8 year old girl are universal, whether she was born decades ago in a Canadian factory town or a short while back in a village in the Dominican Republic! For me it was red shoes. In some parallel universe the 8 year old me will wear her red shoes and clap while the 8 year old you dances in your beautiful skirt!

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    1. I can see me dancing, my skirt flowing, and my hands stretched out to 8-year-old you, so that you can come and clap closer to me. I would want to see your shiny red shoes as you clap and tap your feet. There is something magical about re shoes, particularly if they are in the feet of an 8-year-old with a wild heart!

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  8. I love this story, but mostly I love how - despite your lack of skill - you did your best to make yourself a skirt (probably not a good thing you used a blouse of your Mother's though).

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    1. Taking that blouse was probably the nicest thing. It was hideous! I was doing her a favor lol

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  9. wonderful...makes me wanna dance dance dance :)

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  10. Unfortunately my body is oh so very British, I hesitate to admit, English in fact. However my soul thinks I am a Diva of epic proportions, strutting my stuff, grooving and a-moving in a great Bollywood styley. It is probably quite embarrassing to witness.

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    1. Now I want to dance with you. When you come to visit, we'll go to Coyote Ugly and dance on top of the bar. No dancing is embarrassing when everybody else is totally wasted. Unless you are like me, and you say no to the drinking bit, just so you can enjoy the clear sight of madness ;-)

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  11. Omg! I forgot about Lambada! :))) Love this!

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    1. Replace Lambada for Jem and that is exactly what I said when I saw this week's prompt ;-)

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  12. I think we all had a special outfit we wore till it fell apart. Silly adults think they know whats best don't they. So glad you were able to be a little wild and express yourself to your hearts content. Not all of us were so lucky!

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    1. Seriously! What's going through the minds of adults? Who care if the shoes are too small? Who made them the police of high water pants and threadbare everything? Don't they understand the power of the perfect outfit? Seriously!

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  13. Oh this is fabulous and I love knowing that in the end you got your skirt!! Brasil has been on my mind this morning so it must be in the air. I don't believe the culture and the musical essense of a country that runs through it's people can be fully appreciated unless you've lived in it ~ you are so fortunate to have grown up in such a place! Thanks so much for sharing♥

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    1. I grew up in the Dominican Republic, but history shows that we have borrowed from everybody (stop glaring at me Dominican elitist, our culture has borrowed lots of things, be proud and be quiet). Anyhoo, one of the great things of being part of multi-ethnic nation comes in the shape of having many wonderful things to choose from. I embrace that fact and all its eclectic implications.

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  14. What a precious memory to share! I sometimes forget you are not a native new yorker. Is it ever hard to be in such a big city? I say that knowing I couldn't survive New York, I visited once and that was scary enough.

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    1. I love my Dominican Republic, and New York, and the Midwest, and Europe, and Central America, and Asia, and Africa... and pretty much every place. I get used to places easily and fall in love with their goodness even more easily. I think being an Eclectic Witch has a lot to do with it. In the same way that I love different spiritual paths, I am amazed and intrigued by many different cultures. So nope, living in New York is not hard at all ;-)

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  15. me encanta escuchar la lambada y verla bailar a las chicas guapas. para bailarla yo soy un completo desastre.

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    1. De veras? Tal vez tu bailas en colores ;-) A mi tambíen me encanta escuchar lambada. Sabes qué? Tu arte, en mis ojos, se parece mucho a ese tipo de música: líquida y poderosa.

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  16. What fun, and such a wonderful childhood memory!

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  17. What a wonderful story! You making your skirt out of your mom's blouse and then the sweet lady who got you a real Lambada skirt! I love dirty dancing! Did a lot of it in the eighties! I have to say, that's one thing I do really well, is dance! I was known in school for my dancing ;o)

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    1. Oh, Stacy Love, I can see that big smile of yours--dimples at maximum power--flying through the dance floor, spreading the happiness. It makes me happy just to think about it.

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  18. I truly envy you sometimes.

    I grew up watching black guys dance on soul train and trying to hide my excitement.

    That isn't nearly as romantic and colorful as your story.

    Well, it's not as romantic anyway.

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    1. You probably don't envy the amount of times my ears were pulled in futile efforts to tame my ways. My lobes burn just thinking about the pulling. But I would do it all over again ;-D

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  19. I'm trying to imagine myself dancing the Lambada. Unfortunately, I was born with two left feet....and then another extra foot that comes out periodically to either trip my partner or kick him in the kneecaps. I grew up watching hairy guys in tight white pants sing disco in soprano. LOL Somehow I think your story is more romantic than mine. LOL

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  20. My Piano Man and I were watching a documentary on Queen. Now I have the picture of Queen's front man and "hairy guys in tight white pants" burned in my mind. It's very painful. I hope you are happy lol

    Okay, I just saw your third foot and felt better.

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    1. Hahah! Queen was awesome. I was referring to the Bee Gees, and if you YouTube them, you might have worse images burned into your mind. LOL Specifically, the "Stayin' Alive" video. "Tight" is probably a tab bit of an understatement for the pants. LOL High waisted works too.

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    2. I don't need to google them. Now I'm seeing hair and shiny material everywhere lol

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  21. The joys of being a rebellious child. :) And it sounds like the sewing fiasco wasn't such a bad thing after all, since it was your ticket to getting the real deal.

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    1. A bit of good old healthy rebellion can be quite revealing lol

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  22. Such a beautifully vivid post! I can see that rainbow of flowing skirts in my mind right now. I still can't resist the urge to twirl when I have a skirt on and I share your sewing gifts. ;-)

    Oh honey, mangoes all day, the Lambada dance? Sounds like pure seduction to me. Let's do them both under the full moon and cackle loud and clear! Your 80's ispired image brings a huge smile to my face.

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    1. Now I'm having lambada dancing filled images that taste like mango in my head. How wonderful would that be? Friends, fruit, music and cackling. Yum!

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