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Culture — Spanish Street Music!

by Brandi

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February 23rd, 2010

In Latin American culture, music and dancing are a staple of life. In just about every city I lived in, you could walk around the city on any given day and hear salsa or merengue music filling the streets. I loved the rhythm, the beat and the affect it had on me.

It is very common for Latin Americans to play loud music from their homes with doors and windows wide open. They play music for any type of party or get-together, for special occasions and just for fun. One event they play music for, that I really enjoyed learning about, was one-year-old birthday parties. For a child’s first birthday, parents invite friends, relatives and the child’s godparents for a big celebration where there’s a lot of music and dancing. For me, it was a very interesting that so many adults would get together to celebrate a party where the guest of honor (a one-year old) wouldn’t even remember anything about it or the people who came or participate in the principle activity of the party – dancing.

To me it seemed like either a great excuse to have another party with music and dancing, or a cultural thing that is done in other areas of the world where parents are so thankful that the child has lived through the delicate first year of life.

Now back to music in the streets. I especially noticed how loud their music can get when I lived in a particular Latin American city. I was renting a small home/apartment that had 10″ decorative holes around the front door. There was nothing to block out sound except screen-door-type material; there was no solid surface covering the decorative holes. I spent the first two hours of every morning studying in the apartment and, because of the music from across the street, I think I learned more Spanish music than I was able to actually study. It was okay, and I chalked it up to “cultural education” and Latin experience. I became familiar with a number of Latin bands and grew to love many of them. I now think salsa and merengue music is great!

Something that was very interesting to me was that music from one house never seemed to compete with music from someone else’s home on any given street. They must have had monthly neighborhood scheduling parties (with music) to decide whose home the music would come from each day.

Moral of the Story: For those of you who have Latino friends or neighbors and they turn their music up loud, you need to realize that they aren’t trying to “blast you out” or “compete” with your music, they are just doing what is culturally “normal” for them. You may want to go over to their house, introduce yourself, practice speaking Spanish a little and ask t hem to teach you some Spanish dancing moves. You could say, ¿Puede enseñarme a bailar? (Can you teach me to dance?)

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