Now that all the dancers are in their salsa, (as we say where I come from) we learn the basic steps of the paseo: The punteado, which means to signal with the tip of your left or right shoe: It’s funny, I recalled that lesson we had at class where we drew the connections between “cowboy dance” and vaqueros from Mexico.. when you learn vaquero style, first thing you are told is to do the punteado as well! When I was growing up in the little town where we would spend our summers, there was a farmer who was the local vaquero dance teacher. He would teach in our local parties at the square of our town, and mostly elder farmers would be really into it: I am sure we could also find connections with the performing of the masculinity identities that we mentioned in class, and how one style has influenced another.
But going back to Beacon Hill, this time we were in a womxn-lead circle. And the punteado marked the strength of what we had described previously as the power of circle dance as a protective container: Instead of trying to prove anyone our virility, we were celebrating shared ancestral oral histories. One thing that really called my attention was the practice of giving a saludo to the drums, once in a while. I found it a very feminist practice, since in all my GWSS class, we have been told that a number one rule for the feminist framework is to acknowledge all those members of our communities who have contributed to the creation and spread of knowledge, who have made us who we are. So acknowledging a 400 year old instrument as part of this music practice is very important. I would like to learn more history on it, but since we know that these maestras are defying some traditional rules that would not allow womxn to be behind drums or perhaps leading these workshops, the salutation to the drum who for many generations wasn’t played by a womxn, is a beautiful healing practice (at least in my eyes!)