A guest post by my mom, Maria C. Salazar
In 1962, I was fourteen years old. I had only been in the U.S. for a few months. I felt like Cinderella attending my first concert; it was with mariachi music.
I was going with Mr. and Mrs. Meza. Mr. Meza was the director of the group. They were the family my mom was working for as a housekeeper and babysitter. Also, there was another couple going. It was Mr. and Mrs. Castro, very good friends of the family and they were very nice to my mother and me.
I was excited. It was the first time in my life that I was going to a concert, even if it was with older people.
Mrs. Castro put a little bit of make up on me, which my mother wasn’t too happy about. Mrs. Castro was telling my mother, “Look Lupita. Look how pretty Conchita looks.” Conchita is my middle name. It was the first time I had make up on, so I was thrilled.
At the concert I was happy just listening to the music. At the time, I didn’t dance yet. I had danced different kinds of dances at school in Michoacan, Mexico: polkas, folkloric, and traditional dances for our special programs during the spring shows, Mother’s Day, or Independence Day. I started participating since I entered first grade. My teachers always picked me to dance or to recite poems for these occasions.
Between 1963 when I was fifteen years old and 1966, my mother and I lived in Chicago. But when we returned to our hometown of Jacona, I would go with my sister Lola, who is three years older than me, to birthday parties and weddings. I would dance there.
On July 30, 1967, I got married and that December for New Year’s Eve, my husband invited me out to go dancing. He took me to the Aragon Ballroom on Lawrence in Uptown. At that time, it was a very famous place (well, it still is). The best groups performed there. We went to dance to music by La Sonora Santanera, Carlos Campos and his orchestra, and other groups.
I was excited to go. I went to the beauty shop to do my hair. At that time, my hair was kind of long and long enough to have a French twist done. I bought a pretty pink dress and black patent-leather shoes. New Year’s Eve was a freezing, cold night. The sidewalks were extremely slippery. There I was, slipping and sliding all the way from the car to the ballroom all dressed up.
Nothing bothered me. I was having a lot of fun. I was with the person I loved, who I had chosen to be my husband. Sure enough, I danced a lot. I had learned to dance to different rhythms.
My husband is from the northern part of Mexico, from Coahuila—close to Piedras Negras and Eagle Pass, Texas. He taught me to dance polka and country music, his style.
I am from the central part of Mexico, near Guadalajara. Over there, we danced jarabes, folkloric music, polkas, boleros, cumbias, danzones, waltzes, and cha-cha-cha.
I am a happy person. I can dance and listen to music at all times. No matter what I’m doing at home, cleaning, cooking, or writing, I have my radio, CDs, or cassettes playing. I like the music that my kids like, hip-hop, rap, oldies, and classics, too. I am not a television person.
It is noticeable when I’m sick or something is the matter with me because I don’t have the music on.
In 1967, my New Year’s Eve dance was a dream come true. It made me feel like Cinderella with her prince in the ballroom.
This essay was written by my mom with guidance from a workshop through the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, which publishes the award-winning Journal of Ordinary Thought.
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