Tessa Achevarra for AFRAM 337 Group #11
#1 Afro-Puerto Rican Bomba
The drums are percussive as the workshop gets into full swing. Sitting on the floor at the back, I can see feet stomping and pivoting in time with the beat of the drums, laughter and cheering every so often when the group nails a move. With the instructor at the front and a group mimicking their moves, to an onlooker, this workshop may look like a dance-fitness class. However, It is clear that this is so much more; the dancers are “dancing to the music, and with the music, and making music.” The dancers are engaged, they are a living organism. The room is filled with ordered, chaotic energy. The women are clearly wonderful teachers, since the dancers seem to become more and more cohesive. But of course, who better to teach bomba than actual Afro-Puerto Rican women?
#2 Feminist messaging
There are reminders of feminism everywhere. The air is charged with it. On the walls are posters with messages in Spanish like “autocuidado” and “todas aprendemos de la experiencia de una;” “self-care” and “we all learn from the experience of one.” These messages are printed with images of women and flowers to invoke the feminine and all of the pronouns are feminine even when they might otherwise be masculine. As the (un)conference progresses, I feel the power of these messages. Music is a form of self-care and especially empowering for women; we are all learning about new concepts and ideas from women who practice them regularly. Everyone here is eager to open up to new experiences and the women who help us to experience.
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