Between World Wars One and Two something revolutionary happened to people’s entertainment habits. They began to dance!
Before World War I, the waltz had been adopted from Vienna in England and France but it was heavily scrutinized due to the close contact required in the dance and the tricky moves. However, the aftermath of the war instilled feelings of liberation and brought the new innovation of the Foxtrot to the western world, then came the famous Charleston.
When the Tango was introduced to Europe and America from Argentina in the between wars period it was considered somewhat too exotic to be widely acceptable until Rudolf Valentino made a splash with the dance in a film called “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse”. It then it became a big hit.
The Mambo, a combination of danzón and African street rhythms spiced things up on the dance floor. Then along came the Swing which really caught on and continues to be popular. Soon Europe and America were dancing their troubles away!
The trend lead to the popularization of “Tea Dances” held in the late afternoon at tea time, and frequented especially by older people who wished entertainment in earlier and less raucous hours than that offered in jazz and music venues later at night.
I met a couple from California at the Olas Altas Market a few Saturdays ago while listening to the fiery flamenco music of Tatewari on the big stage. They were executing some lovely tango moves to the music in the large area in front of the stage. The dancers that particular morning lamented the fact that while great music abounded in Puerto Vallarta, finding a venue with room for dancing was a challenge.
It just so happens, I had learned from Arancha of Babel Bar that she was instituting an early evening venue that was designed to fill that bill. Nightly from 6:30 to 8:30 she offers jazz and other entertaining and very danceable music and, indeed, leaves a nice sized dance floor in front of the band where couples can weave and twirl with delight to the sounds of the saxophone of Oscar Terazzas and keyboards by Miquel Rodriguez, strings of Moruno’s Mediterranean band, the jazz manouche of the ‘30’s and 40’s of Faralae, and many other wonderful groups. With the incredible sounds and inviting atmosphere one can just imagine the potted palms and glittering lights of the dance floors of yesteryear.
To top it off this all takes place in the open air with a lovely dinner menu by chef Conrado Rodríguez Ruelas and wonderfully innovative libations created by barman/mixologist Santos.
Another fun opportunity for dancers is the Plaza in front of the cathedral where on Sunday evenings beginning around 5:00 a great community group plays in the bandstand and the local people flock to the square to dance. It is a long time tradition and always well attended. Everyone is invited to enjoy the music and dance in this very picturesque setting.
This is probably just the beginning of a great thing. Here’s hoping others will follow suit and provide an at once romantic and robust ambience for people to “kick off their shoes” and liberate their pent up desire to dance the afternoon or evening away!
For more information, visit my website vallartasounds.com.