A quick update on last week's blog before we get started. So apparently there is an official misspelling of the word guero. According to Urban Dictionary it is spelled "whetto" meaning a Mexican slang word for a white person. Spelled very phonetically and it makes sense to me. Teachers have always told us to sound the word out when we're learning to spell it,
"Wwwhhhhhheeeeettttttttttttttttttttttttttttooooooooo." Imagine the horror I felt on Monday, one day after my grand launch of this blog, to discover I have misspelled a misspelling. This threw me into white mode and immediately I began to panic and search for options as to how to fix the situation. Besides, my entire literary contribution was at stake here and heading straight down the pooper! Should I just delete and start over from scratch? Research, I need research to solve this problem. Help!
Further investigation led me to Dictionary Update and again, they too spell it "whetto." Crap! But looking into it they combine two words, "white" and "ghetto" to come up with "whetto," listing several uses for the term, several rather derogatory. Just then a man at my work place happened to walk by with a red cap on his head that read, "Old Skool." It made me stop and ask myself, "Why are you stressing over this?" I'm probably one of the few white people to ever stress over the correct misspelling of the word guero and it made me laugh. The negative overtones that the term spelled "whetto" suggests has led me to the decision to keep on using "wedo." Regardless, whether you spell it guero, wedo or whetto, this wedo doesn't really care and I'm putting it to rest and moving forward. So let's get down to business.
Believe it or not this all began at church (Note: This would be a good moment to take pause and put on Madonna's "Like A Prayer" for ambiance). It was Sunday evening June 6, 2010 and my church was celebrating their 22nd anniversary. To celebrate, a fiesta! Now my church is no small place and when they do something, they go all out. Free tacos, burritos, chips and salsa, paletas and beverages for everyone! Anyone hungry? A free concert by an award winning Latin Christian recording artist. Jumpers for the kids. In the courtyard, a large fountain sets and there on each side, two stages rested for the evenings entertainment. Whenever the word gets out that there is free food and entertainment, the masses show up and this night was no exception. It was packed. The church itself boasts of membership of over 17,000 people. So you can imagine the sea of people that showed up that night. Let the entertainment begin and let's celebrate!
Prior to this night, I only recall seeing Mexican dancing on one other occasion. It was at a fair or park somewhere and a few children moved half-hearted around on a stage to mariachi music, some just stood in place and did nothing at all. It was boring, lacked passion and effort and I was very disinterested. You could hardly call it dancing and it definitely was not entertaining. I don't say this to discourage anyone from dancing. I'm just being honest. I'm not picking on those children and I admit they were cute in their little costumes. To be clear I want to state, "I strongly encourage parents and children to get involved in folklorico dancing." However, on that particular occasion, it was a performance only the parents could truly appreciate. Other than this one experience the only other exposure that I remember of folklorico dancing was the occasional photo or graphic depicting it. Obviously, my exposure to it was extremely limited. And for the record, I have seen several children's groups dance folklorico since that have completely blown me away. Absolutely amazing and talented.
Going back to the evening of June 6, 2010, there in the center of the church courtyard on those two stages, Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana danced that evening. I had never seen such a display. I was impressed with the colorful costumes, the lively music, the clean articulate footwork, the energy, passion and excitement of it all. To quote the Material Girl herself, now "You Can Dance!" As I watched I had a feeling that it would be something fun to try. It looked like something I could possibly do. I like trying new things and having new experiences. How does someone get involved in such a thing? I had no clue. I noticed a gentlemen off to the side in a charro suit and in my mind I said to myself, "I wonder how he got involved in this. What's his story?" The evening ended and nothing became of my curiosity. Well, not yet anyway.
Fast forward 14 months. It was August 27, 2011. In the course of life events, I found myself at breakfast at Denny's sitting across from Richard Solorzano. In the course our discussion, he brought up that he was dancer and the director of a ballet folklorico dance company. Immediately, I realized that this was the same man I had seen 14 months prior at the church. It was none other than a Divine appointment! I expressed some interest in the dancing and he invited me out that evening to go to a fiesta he was going to. And from that point forward, Richard opened up a whole new world of Mexican dancing to me. For the next month it was exposure to folklorico and mariachi. Folklorico, Folklorico, Folklorico! I went to numerous folklorico rehearsals to observe. I went to numerous performances and observed. It was a constant exposure. I wasn't dancing yet, just observing. We watched videos of folklorico shows, we went to restaurants and listened to mariachi, I went to several different folklorico groups that he was involved in just to watch the practice.
Finally, one day in the apartment kitchen Richard showed me a couple steps to practice. And boy did I practice. Practice, practice, practice! I wanted to impress him. I practiced all day long as I worked at my job in a warehouse. Paying no attention to the comments of my coworkers. Every chance, I practice. I practiced in the kitchen, bumping into cupboards and kicking counter tops. Wait a minute, kicking counter tops? Really? Well yes, during those sudden outbursts of high kicks when I thought I was a Rockette! Then Richard took it up a notch. We would go jogging and we would jog a block and then do folklorico footwork for a block and we repeated that sequence over and over.
Finally, I bought my first pair of black folklorico dance boots. And on October 7, 2011 I officially joined Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana and my formal training began. Four hours every Friday evening. The first two hours I worked with Richard's assistant director and she drilled me relentlessly on foot work. The last two hours I danced with Richard's performing group. It was a challenge to keep up, but Richard kept telling me, "Don't get frustrated and don't quit." Very quickly I found out that you use muscles in your body you don't even realize you have and the body aches and soreness set in. I made a new friend called glucosamine! Soon I was up to four rehearsals a week equaling 10 hours of formal folklorico training,
So that's how it all began. And the journey continues....
In closing, I want to thank everyone who read last weeks blog. I hope you will share it with a friend. There was some difficulty for people to post comments, but feel free to send me an email with questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find me on Facebook. "Like" my new fan page at "One Big Wedo" for up to date information on performances, photos, videos and more. Just look for my photo, all dressed in white. White on white! This will be a great fun way for me to meet all of you who are reading my blog all over the world. Until next week......
Contact Information for "The Big Wedo":
Google E-mail: email@example.com
Facebook: One Big Wedo (Guero)
Twitter: Michael Smith @onebigwedo
Contact Information for Ballet Folklorico de Herencia Mexicana:
Richard Solorzano, Director: (909) 201-1957
Facebook: Herencia Mexicana
Note: Looking for your own adventure or journey? Herencia is a great place to find one! Folklorico lessons and performances are both available. Herencia Mexicana performs for private & public events of all kinds. Book your event today! Herencia Mexicana welcomes new students. No previous folklorico or dance experience required. All are welcome.