Parties (Fiestas – [fee-es-taws]) in Latin America are very different from parties in most English speaking countries. To give you a brief example, a friend from Latin America came to stay with my wife and me. I told him that we were going to a family party. When we got there, we ate, chatted, and played games. My friend looked very confused and said, “Where is the dancing?” I said, “What you mean ‘Where’s the dancing?'” He said, “This is a party isn’t it? — So, where is the dancing?” To Latin Americans, the word “fiesta” (party) means that, among other activities, there will always be some dancing. He just couldn’t comprehend how there could be a “party” without “dancing.”
The Spanish culture is rich with vibrant music and dancing. They have salsa music, merengue [meh-rang-geh], tango and many other different types of music and dancing. It is a wonderful cultural experience to watch these types of dancing and hear their beautiful music.
If you ever have the chance to walk down the streets of a Latin American pueblo (village) in the evening, especially on a weekend, the air will probably be filled with Latin music. A typical setting is to see a house with the windows and doors wide open so you can hear the music from the street and see a true “fiesta” in progress — with dancing of course.
Any party in Latin America, whether it is with friends, relatives, or school groups will have music and dancing. If not, it is simply not a “fiesta.”
Remember, if you invite a native Spanish speaker to a “Fiesta” (party), you should either make sure there is dancing or be prepared to explain why our culture does not have dancing at “parties.”
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