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DANCERS'
NIGHTS,
QUEENS
AND
CROSSES

CONOZCA
PERU
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DANCERS' NIGHTS, QUEENS AND CROSSES

Of dancers and queens

Again the festival atmosphere, the aroma of wine and beer, the distant beats of a drummer that it is amplified to turning on the fading lights of the streets of Cotahuasi, the town of the deepest Canyon in the world

Sparking reddish splinters. Faces bathed in the igneous radiance of the flames that reverberate in front of the atrium of a chapel. Expectation and silence. The dancer concentrates, he cocks his hat, seizes the scissors, looks at his musicians, takes a bow; then, the harp and the violin sound. He begins to dance...

Applauses, vítores and jokes. "They are representatives of the districts of the county", announces the voice of refinedly smooth talking speaker, while a yellowish face of light, pursues the ladies that dream of becoming queens in the theater of Cotahuasi. They smile the whole time, speak of the customs of their towns and they parade prancing around in high heels...

And jokingly, the exhausted dancer is about to fall, but is able to escape from the shame, he recomposes himself and makes his scissors vibrate for the crosses blessed by the "padrecura", although its art - as they say in the southern heights - he was born to invoke through convulsive movements the PreHispanic deities or the selfsame demon, as spat out by the Spanish conquerors. The bonfire goes out...

Fog and darkness. Short circuit. Queens wrapped in shadows. Miscues in the theater. "It is a small setback", argues the speaker with the treble voice, but nobody listens to him, everyone wants to know who will be the queen of the county: the representative of the pedagogic institute, the coed high school, the pretty teacher that sticks out her chin for the teachers' union. The waiting seems hopeless. Some leave...

"Don't leave, stay even for a while", the steward of the Crosses invites those recently arrived. Some are carried of by the movement, others enter to the chapel of weeping candles and fringed crosses: they bless themselves, they pray, they take a swig and they return to the atrium. Now the dancer jumps with his knees. The harp cries in each one of its melodies.

"It was like this the first night of the party", concludes the sour passenger and philosopher; then he remains silent, as if internally continuing to revive the details of the queen's coronation and the twirl of the dancer, heir of an old tradition that has transformed them into celebrated characters of the communities, the fakirs of the Andes, able to surpass the limits of pain and overcome the most difficult tasks.

The day passed quick between drowsy faces and promises of night encounters. Then again the darkness and the stars. Again the festival atmosphere, the aroma of wine and beer, the distant beats of a drummer that it is amplified to turning on the fading lights of the streets of Cotahuasi, the town of the deepest Canyon in the world.

Verbena nights and a folk party in the patio of a school. Bottles that come and go making the conscience sleepy, music that accelerates the heart, fireworks that color the darkness; suddenly, a dressed man appears in the scenario of white.

"He is the Angel of La Union", screams the public and the singer - that doesn't have anything of ethereal neither of celestial - heats the night with a carnival huayno. His voice pierces the eardrums, but nobody cares. That is the least to worry about when it is necessary to dance... and they form a circle and people tap-dance and it smells of dust and itches your nose. It lacks air and the cold disappears.

The patio is a dance floor or an immense and unlikely railroad of tangled rails. It is the moment of the "chucu-chucu" and those that are in the circles have let go of their hands, to hold on to their waists and to form vertiginous arrays and winding like bolted trains that go to a nonexistent place, to an unreal station of perpetual happiness.

The trains collide, they lose their boxcars, they break up, but they appear again vigorous and happy, guided by the Ángel's voice... and somebody gives hurras for La Union and the queen hides her silver crown for fear of losing it and the dancer has become a scatterbrained locomotive...

The crosses have returned to their communities. A traveler requests protection and he asks them: Who untied the revel?; then he sits down on the side of the road. He begins to write.

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