Sunday, October 08, 2006

Dominicana Soy...

Normally, I'd post this blog entry in the "Stranger Than Fiction" blog seeing as it technically deals with entertainment, but the concert of a lifetime that I experienced last night was more suited for this page, where I reveal most of my innermost feelings and secrets. Because the artists that crossed the stage were not merely entertainers who were putting on your average Saturday night show. These were living legends del Merengue. And a major part of my life. And all of this after seeing a wonderful exhibit at El Museo del Barrio on Merengue that featured some very talented Dominican artists earlier that day.

Most of you only know the jaded, bitter, angry, crazy, silly native NYer that I've been since about age 15. But before then, I was simply Dominican, and all that it implies: obsessed with beisbol, novelas, arroz con gandules, habichuelas dulce, and merengue. These artists shaped me, enticed me, turned me into a five-year-old groupie drawing "I-heart-Sandy Reyes" (musician who sang with Wilfredo Vargas) all over everything. I remember meeting some of these famous musicians as a kid; some even hung out at my birthday parties. My mom was cool with them. And somewhere there still exists a picture of me and Sandy Reyes...I was so in love with this man...but I digress...

Last night I sat in the 3rd row while Hector "El Torito" Acosta, Sergio Vargas, Bonny & Richie Cepeda, Raulin, Jacinto Gantier, Tito Kenton and "El Mayimbe" himself...Fernandito Villalona stood before me on that stage and belted out tunes that took me back to 572 Greene Avenue, 68 Patchen, and even Stuyvesant between Hancock and Halsey- all my old stomping grounds.

"La Chula," "Si Algun Dia La Vez," "Baila En La Calle," "Maricella," "Te Amo Demasiado"...I can go on and on about the set list, but I know most of you who read this are not familiar with merengue so I won't. Suffice it to say, I came real close to losing my voice singing along.

It was moving to see Fernandito up there doing his thing, his voice like liquid flowing right through me, untouched by the heart attack that nearly took his life recently. He moved a little slower and has put on pounds, but he's alive and can still sing his heart out. At one point he stood at the edge of the stage, and I swear to god, SANG RIGHT TO ME; POINTED TO ME AND EVERYTHING!!!! I almost came in my pants. To explain it to you in layman's terms, it was like seeing Prince or Luther Vandross and have him single you out during a ballad. I all but died on the spot. He closed the show, to a crowd thick with his fellow Cibao natives waving the Dominican flag tears in their (our) eyes and singing along, with "Dominicano Soy."

Forget meeting John Cusack or Slash...I can die happy now...

...Because El Mayimbe Vive!!!

Dominicano soy
de miz raizes you no voy a olvidarme
soy de un raza tan humilde y tan grande
que de sus penas hacen rayos de sol...

para los gringos:
I am Dominican
I will never forget my roots
I come from a humble and great people
That turn their troubles into rays of sunlight