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?