I’d never been interviewed on the radio before, let alone in a language I am not 100% fluent in. But nonetheless, I found myself the lone gringa in the waiting room of Cuenca’s radio station FM 88 “Radioactiva” with Daisy Erraez, the director of dance school Cachumbambe, and another instructor there who teachers urban dance.
The topic? New dance rhythms in Cuenca! I was the crazy one to bring swing dancing – lindy hop and Charleston classes to Cachumbambe dance studio, and Johnny was starting hip hop. You might find this surprising, but I’d never seen any lindy hop dance classes EVER before in Cuenca, population 500,000. And Cuencanos are surprisingly not very into hip-hop either, given that everything comes a distant second to the 99% of popular music here, which is reggaeton, cumbia, and merengue.
OK, yes the dance originated in the US, but it’s so popular there you would have thought some would have flown in with the innumerable gringos residing there. Shows how easy it is to be “first to market” here just by importing your passion.
The radio personality host was named Fernando, (in radio-show talk that’s FerrrrrrrNANNNNDO). I can’t even describe how weird it is to see someone talking in person like you hear on the radio, with the most fascinating intonations and rolling R’s while suavely breezing through local news, joking about the Ecuador-Uruguay football match, or promoting the cheesiest advertisements for local businesses, from beauty treatments to furniture sales and pizza specials. His hands moved excitedly, emphatically – more like the wild gesticulations of an Italian mafia in the movies. I had a little bit of a hard time not laughing just watching him.
We played some music, he asked me about the dance, and the music. I gave somewhat cheesy answers….trying-to-hard to emulate him. Conversation turned to my personal life and time in Cuenca, and upon the typical line of questioning about family, I had to explain why it was that I was single to the large public audience. Why, do I not like the Cuencano men? <Nervous laugh and awkward answer>. Upon further prompting, Daisy and I stood up and danced a couple swingouts in the tiny cramped studio space, as he added his ESPN-3-worthy sports commentary.
Highlights? Apparently according to our friend FerrrrNANDO, I now have a Cuencana accent!