Older Folks Speak Out

ANCE: During the weekend celebrations at the old football field, a fine band was playing on and on and nobody would dance. A friend of mine commented and wondered why the young people of today waste such fine music and prefer to sit around or hang by the bar or simply do nothing. Another friend remarked that today there is a lot of dancing every week, so much that it is not a special occurrence. However, in days gone by, say in the sixties, there were three or four dances held for the year with a fine band so that it was very special. Nobody would miss them for anything in the world.

And then an older folk commented on the 'Mestizada" dancing of the 1930's. A certain gentleman called "El Arno de la Hacienda" (The Master of the Estate) would go from house to house inviting and selecting the ladies that would dance the "Mestizada," A musical group, which was part of the musical band, would play at the street corners while the "Arno" gave the ladies a small glass of wine and that symbolized acceptance to be a part of the Mestizada.

On June 28, for the dance, they would play ''La Alborada" plus a "zapateado" (dance) and then other popular selections. During the "zapateado," it was customary to get hold of the gentlemen's hats which would be thrown on the ground and all danced around it. To get back his hat, the owner had to pay a fee. Now on the 29", St. Peter's Day or Dia de San Pedro, it would be entirely "Mestizada "dancing. The ladies would dress like Mestizos with their white flowery "ternos" (dresses) and the dance went on from. 7 p.m. until the rising of the sun. It used to be the custom that as long as there were dancing couples on the dance floor, even if it was only one, the band would not stop playing. Mr. Jex Forman (Allan Forman's dad), who could not speak very good Spanish, used to say: "Hasta que raisa el Sol" meaning, "dance until sunrise."

Other dances that were enjoyed in the 1930's were Mazurca, Showtish, Dos Pasos, Cuadrilla, Cuatro Pasos, Danzon, Corridos, Vals or Waltz, Boleros, Zapateado, and Jaranas.

DECORATIONS: Though there were no colored lights (not even lights), the village was well decorated for the feast day of St. Peter. Arches would be made with coconut palms and placed along the main streets ( 2 of them) where the procession would pass along. Also all the villagers were asked to decorate their homes with coconut palms or small palm trees like the Royal Palm or Palmetto plants. All of this added a special touch of greenery to the entire village and it could be sensed that the entire village was in a festive mood.

The fishermen would also decorate their boats with colored flags which were tied unto a string and arranged all the way to the mast. For several days the boats displayed this festive mood and people arriving from other parts of Belize for the "Mestizadas "would get into the festive mood as soon as the decorated boats met the eye. This practice of decorating boats with flags was extended all the way into the 1950's when a fleet of boats would sail out to greet and welcome the Bishop who would come occasionally for the sacrament of confirmation.

All in all, older folks today believe that their celebrations in years gone by were indeed fantastic. When they recollect the past, they recall the preparations, the dresses, the music, the dance hall full of people, the special dances with special gentlemen, and the special way ladies were treated. To hold a lady's hand, you had to place a handkerchief in your hands. They remember the first song at 7 p.m. to the last one at 7 a.m. Those were real balls according to them. It was not about the number of people in attendance, but rather the number of people having fun.

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