The night began working its charm and I could hardly control the anticipation I felt from just thinking about the magical dance I was finally about to enjoy. The stage was set and we had arrived- we all had finally grown up. Oh, to be men and women, I thought, as I watched all the “kids” turned young adults begin to pair off, walking away hand in hand. They would then unite again face to face in some spot near the bandstand as they embraced on the dance floor.
As I watched, I didn’t dare move even when I recognized my fair Princess Albina Romero approaching. This seemed the chosen moment and place and it was accentuated by my being the only student of color visibly there that evening. According to my friend, Jose Manuel, Albina was fated to be with me all that night.
It was then that I broke out in a cold sweat as I actually saw her approaching me slowly, gracefully, until she finally reached me up where I was sitting. Without a word between us she reached out and took me by the hand. Hypnotized by her beauty and calm assertion, I allowed her to literally lead me down the steps to the middle of the dance floor. I really could not believe that she was doing this as never a word was exchanged between us.
Aside from truly surprising me that bold gesture on her part convinced me that the girl had chosen me to be her partner for the night. The music struck up in the first number of the evening and it brought us together in an embrace as we took a first step in what we both knew to be a romantic Bolero. Again, we hadn’t spoken to each other before that moment and yet here we were in an intimate embrace dancing bolero. It was turning into a grand opportunity to get to know each other better for the first time that year. However, for me it was putting every ounce of restraint I had to the test and to not make a mess of such a memorable event.
Suddenly I realized that my feet were moving in unison with hers as she tested me, I thought, “As Africans do,” since dancing is a very important skill to master in our culture. The Bongo and Conga drums kept time as her perfume began to intoxicate me and challenged my hormones to behave.
Dancing cheek to cheek, I was afraid to even breathe in the aroma of this young, adolescent beauty. Locked in this fragrant embrace with a gorgeous girl my tiredness had turned into feelings of joy at just being there. Although these exquisite feelings were new to me we both understood what a striking couple we were. I felt as handsome as she felt beautiful and the dance- this dance- would become an important part of the few joys of our youth of those times.
This story continues.