Not long ago, I attended a Los Tigres del Norte concert at a small hall with no dance floor. The people attending were supposed to sit down and enjoy the music. Five minutes into the music, these jumping beans started dancing in the aisle. Within minutes, half of the attendees were going up and down the aisles dancing to the music. It's not the first time I've seen Mexicans create improvised dance floors. Why do Mexicans love dancing so much?
Anyone who needs to ask why people dance to Los Tigres del Norte—the norteño supergroup that combines traditional polka beats with socially conscious lyrics to create something that's part Clash, part Lawrence Welk, and puro mexicano—has no soul or is a gabacho. How can you not sway to their metronomic bass, their lush accordion trills, their canned sound effects, member Hernán Hernández's mexcelente Mexi-mullet? Mexican music is amongst the most danceable outside Brazil because its practitioners understand that music is, first and foremost, something to stir humanity into the realm of ecstasy via nalga-shaking. Almost all the genres that constitute Mexican popular music—the aforementioned norteño, the brass-band strut of banda sinaloense, son jarocho's twinkling harps and guitars, even the dark riffs of Mexican heavy metal—put the focus on rhythms rather than lyrics (the exception is ranchera, the domain of drunkards and macho pussy men).
But dancing for Mexicans is more than a mere physical act. Every hallmark moment in Mexican society is centered around dances—weddings, baptisms, informal gatherings, birthdays, and anniversaries. More noteworthy are the dances held by hometown benefit associations that raise thousands of dollars for the rebuilding of hometowns in Mexico. Tellingly, Mexican society does not consider girls and boys to be women and men until they begin to dance. Once they're eligible to dance, Mexicans are eligible to take care of their community, too. Mexicans know that dancing solidifies trust, creates community, and repairs the injured civic and personal soul. Besides, it's a great way for Mexican adolescents to grope each other in a parent-approved environment.
Can you tell me the meaning of the word "aguacate"? All I know about this delicious fruit is that it originated on this continent.
"Aguacate" is the Spanish word for avocado, but its Nahuatl meaning is more rustic: balls. According to Ana María de Benítez's 1974 classic, Pre-Hispanic Cooking, "The name aguacate (avocado) comes from Ahuacatl Cuahuitl, ahuacatl meaning testicle and cuahuitl meaning tree, hence: tree of testicles." A Freudian might argue, then, that guacamole is castration gone gourmet. Women prepare it so they can symbolically crush the macho huevos that keep them repressed; Mexican hombres scarf it down in the belief that they'll become manlier. And the popularity of guacamole amongst gabachos—the California Avocado Commission estimates that consumers purchase 40 million pounds of their cash crop during Super Bowl weekend alone—is actually an American plot to deball the Mexican nation. Then again, an avocado might just be an avocado: a wrinkly—and, sure, testicular—fruit.
Got a spicy question? Then ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org. Include a hilarious pseudonym, por favor, or we'll make one up for you! También, a glossary deciphering some of the Mexican's more popular catchphrases can be found at www.seattleweekly.com.