Music and Dancing: Tucson’s Nighttime Heart

One week gone, another week accomplished. I’ve done a lot of work at Casa Mariposa this week, I needed a break at some point. All week I had been archiving the list of detainees still in custody as well as those who have been either released or deported, as well as writing letters to some that we received this week. One man, Ismael, I had the opportunity to visit last week in Florence and I wrote back to him, but this week I found out he had been deported. He had been fighting so hard to not go back to his home country, but it was difficult for anything else to be done. Figuring out who was still in custody and who wasn’t took a lot out of me. One day they could be in custody, the next they were either in their home country fearing for their lives or released if willing. What made it even worse was the phone system I used to check on the detainees. If I couldn’t find their status online, I would call an ICE number and try and input the A numbers (Alien identification number). Once accepted, I was able to hear everything that had gone through that case. Some had applications denied, a few had amazingly been granted release, but many other had been ordered removal and appeals denied. Hearing all of this within a few days was too much for me. I probably will have to do more of that as the weeks progress, but I have to stay strong so I can encourage the detainees to remain strong, even if it is in writing.

After all the stress of working through the immigration detaining system, I needed a break to look forward to the weekend before I started up again. Earlier in the week, my host mom, Rosalinda, had told us about a place downtown she and her husband, Tony, go to for live music and dancing as well as a club for salsa dancing where ladies get in for free and men pay $5 for entry (what a deal for ladies!). I immediately paid attention to that part. It had been so long for me since I last went somewhere to dance (in Durham, I usually frequent Cuban Revolution Thursday nights for some latin music), so I was really interested in knowing where these places were. The other students had been wanting to know more about the night life, and here I was hearing about dancing. I was super excited about going, so after relaxing after work on Thursday, I took a shower and managed to fix my hair. Adam and I went with Tony and Rosalinda to the Congress Hotel to listen to Salvador Durán, a northern Mexican music artist in Tucson. He played many songs I knew, including Cucurrucucu Paloma by Lola Beltrán and a few other songs I was able to recognize. I absolutely enjoyed listening to his music. We danced a little, but mostly enjoyed watching Tony and Rosalinda dance to the majority of the songs.

Tony and Rosalinda dancing

Tony and Rosalinda dancing

It was so much fun listening to all the music. I was able to capture a few videos of Tony and Rosalinda dancing, as well as a Romani dancing to the music.

After the little concert was over, the artist and his team began packing up all the equipment. Tony took Deanna and Adam home, since Rosalinda and I wanted to check out the salsa dancing salon. While we waited, a few men were trying to play the balero, and I enjoyed watching them miss (not so good on my part, since I can’t play it very well). If you don’t know what the balero is, here’s a picture of it.

The balero

Many of the guys were holding the stick on the side and trying to flip the wooden cylinder onto the stick, but I knew there was an easier way. One of them let me try, and I was able to almost get it onto the stick. The guy had tried it my way and was able to get it a couple of times. While this went on, Salvador Durán came over to our table and started talking to me. He knew my host parents, and wanted to know what I was doing in Tucson. He was surprised and happy to know I spoke Spanish and was majoring in Spanish back at Duke. The other young man entertained by the balero was a fellow musician with Salvador, Sergio Mendoza. Both men are in a group called Sergio Mendoza Y La Orkestra (no typos here), and were going to play in Las Vegas at Caesar’s Palace. I couldn’t believe Tucson music had made it that far. I was very glad to have had the chance to talk to these musicians. Now, I know what my Thursday nights will consist of after work.



One thought on “Music and Dancing: Tucson’s Nighttime Heart

  1. Glad to hear that you have found a fun outlet during the week! It is important to find away to step back from the intense work with the detainees. It must be interesting to get a glimpse into home life in Tucson–do you see the community differently now that you have spent time in a homestay?


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