We went to a restaurant in Barranco called La Candelaría. It was huge! Inside, the tables surrounded a big stage with a band. Shortly after we arrived, a group of dancers took the stage wearing colorful costumes. They came out several different times and demonstrated the traditional dances from various regions of Peru.
Between the dances, they played music so that the customers could dance, as well. It was a really energetic, fun environment. The staff asked each table where they were from, and towards the end of the night, the announcer called representatives from each of the countries to the stage. He informed everyone that the people on stage would have to demonstrate the traditional dance of their country. The Argentine tango, the Columbian cumbia, the Puerto Rican calypso, the Spanish flamenco—country after country represented in dance. What surprised me, aside from there being so many international travelers in one room, was that each randomly chosen citizen knew the dance of their respective nation. Granted, they were not professional-grade dancers, but they all knew the steps. I was very impressed.
As I stood on stage, I couldn’t fathom what dance my two classmates and I would do to represent the United States. We thought we could try to do the Electric Slide, but that isn’t a national dance. I didn’t know what to expect. We were the last country standing on stage. The announcer had us all step forward. When the microphone was shoved in front of Amy’s face, she stated “We are from the United States,” and said a few gracious words about Peru. Then, the band started to play a fast-paced, loud song. At first, I thought it was Crazy in Love by Beyonce and began to dance–despite my confusion. However, after a few seconds, I realized that it was not Beyonce—it was the YMCA song! It was fun, but I felt a little inadequate in comparison to the sophisticated dances from other parts of the world. Well, I guess it was better than the Kangaroo-Hop that the Australians had to do!
This simple international dance demonstration made my mind wander. The US is an enormous nation compared to Peru. I understand why we have regional differences— dance, music, slang, food, etc. However, Peru has regional differences packed into a smaller space. I read somewhere that Peru is smaller than Alaska. Desert, coast, mountains, and jungle—all squeezed in between the same border. There is so much diversity here, both in environment and culture. My classes have really stressed the complexity created by this situation. It has been really interesting to witness it firsthand. I will be curious to see how Peru continues to evolve throughout my lifetime. I know that I will be watching.