Sunday, May 23, 2010

Dance Dance Revolution

“Okay, real quick. It goes up, down, up, down, right, front, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, slap, pat, pat, ‘Talofa!’” A bunch of half naked, slightly buzzed palagis stand in a gravel parking lot taking traditional dance moves out of moth balls. “Climb, climb, climb, climb, wave to the right, wave to the left, climb down, climb down, climb down, climb down, pat, pat, clap.” Sure, we could have rehearsed all this the day before, but what kind of fun would that be?

Avenoa Tutusa, Peace Corps Samoa’s non-profit cousin, current President Joey 81, held a fundraiser at Maliu Mai last night, and volunteers showed up in droves to help out with logistics and to provide entertainment in the form of traditional Samoan dances. A $5 admission was charged, and Fono and his band performed.

Sometime around 7:30, Blakey came around and told volunteers to prepare for the dances. I think there was a short rehearsal yesterday afternoon, but I missed it, so Blakey’s warning was a cue to re-learn the dance I’d be performing in about 10 minutes. We also had to regale ourselves in lavalavas and pulatasis.

Our self-sufficiency at preparing for events like this is a testament to how far we’ve come. During training my host mother would correct the way my lavalava was tied. Often putting her arms around me the way a parent might adjust the diaper on a 2-year-old. I’m proud to say I can do it all by myself now.

I also brought a beaded necklace to wear during the dance. “Where’d you get the bling, Matt?” Erin asked.

Re-learning the dances is fairly easy because the dances themselves are rather basic. For example, each 8-count in the boys’ slap dance begins with the same movement; only the last 2 beats vary, and even those variable moves repeat. It’s simple enough for white boys like me to retain.

The sāsā is slightly more complicated, but it’s choreographed to tell a story, so the progression is pretty easy to remember. It’s essentially a rhythmic demonstration of the process of making pe’epe’e, salted coconut cream. After the “Talofa!” part, the dance simulated climbing a coconut tree; husking, chopping, and scraping the coconut; and then gathering, squeezing, and salting the flesh. Easy enough, right?

The other saving grace is that in both dances, the entire things is performed twice: once at regular speed and once fast. This means if you screw up the first time, you get to redeem yourself during the second go-around.

There was much screwing up last night, but I like to think the flaws are what gave it that cute palagi charm. Right?

The event was a success, bringing in ~$850 for Avenoa Tutusa. And Dustin got to see some authentic imitated Samoan culture.

I hope you’re well. Pictures below.

Slap dance. Left to right: Casey 80, Jordan 81, Joey 81, Benj 78, Paul 81, AJ 81.  Sorry Matt, you got cropped.

Teine. Left to right: Jenny, Tifa, Ally, Rachel.  All from 82.

Elisa 82 was the taupo.

Dan and Medical Officer Teuila out on the dance floor.

Former Training Director HP dancing with the ladies.


Anonymous said...

"...authentic imitated Samoan culture."

I love it ;)

Looks fun...wish I were there to witness it all!

Oh, speaking of un-academic's an "academic" comment for ya:

wow...your having to much fun over their! lol. all those other people in the pics and there moves look groovy!! seriously, lol...

ok, that was a shout out to Dustin. Feel free to remove now.


Amanda said...

woah! look at those new tabs on the top. you are fancy.