It feels necessary to reveal the ways that NYC theaters, often touting themselves as cultural forums and hubs for inclusivity, are both succeeding and failing in ways to meet these goals through their most visceral, visual-spatial impressions.
I realize now that what I saw in Danny’s eyes all those years ago – that fleeting, empty stare – was not a vacancy, at all: it was the start of this reckoning. A man who, acutely aware of his place in this industry, fell out of his clownish character for a moment because he was tired of performing it.
They’re playing a guaguancó, and suddenly there is that recognition and return across land, across bodies, across time. The clave is inhabiting us: there is foot-tapping, head-nodding, and – yes, even joy – spreading like smiles on the faces of everyone around me.
For everyone has their Mary – that fleeting friend whose image saturates the memories of childhood, who is impossible to capture wholly. One can only pull, desperately, at the essence she has left behind before it is too late. And perhaps it is always too late.
Mamí likes to say that there are some people born into this world with a blossomed rose up their ass, such that even their shit is pretty, perfumed. My mother is not one of those people. She has learned to be hard, unflinching, constantly on guard for the next whirlwind to uproot the few remaining comforts of her life.
We would never enjoy dancing to salsa, listening to salsa, or merengue, for that matter. While we wanted to love our culture, these important musical and dancing experiences had long been tainted for us.