Dear Mexican: Why do wabs, regardless of age and body size, always have one hand rubbing their bellies under their shirts? Is this something inherent in all wabs? They all do it, especially the “fresh from the border” ones. I don’t get it. I’m a pocho, and I’ve never seen other pochos do it. Are wabs finger-banging their belly buttons, or what? They all look so fucking stupid doing this. Just go to Home Depot and watch them.
Pocho With Albóndigas Grandes
Dear Pocho: What’s with the panza hate? In previous eras, girth was a sign of bounty and promise—I’m thinking Santa Claus, William Howard Taft and the Earth Mother. That’s still the case in Mexico: Next to a broom-thick mustache and a gray Ford truck, a glorious, well-rounded stomach is our ultimate proof of machismo. A panza’s layers of fat fuel our insatiable work ethic; its orbital shape is a testament to the wives we keep in kitchens at home. Gabachos might work out, but taut muscles cannot compete with the centripetal force of a panza. Kids flock to it; crowds stare in jealousy when a magnificent specimen passes by. So when we rub our panzas, we pat the larded treasure that brings us success, popularity and prosperity—recall how Buddhists massage Siddhartha’s plump belly for luck.
In an amazing coincidence, Theravada Buddhists celebrate a mid-July holiday called Khao Pansa, where the faithful live in monasteries for three months and conclude with a gluttonous festival of food—all in the name of expanding that sweet, sweet panza.
Not long ago, I attended a Los Tigres del Norte concert at a small hall with no dance floor. The people attending were supposed to sit down and enjoy the music. Five minutes into the music, these jumping beans started dancing in the aisle. Within minutes, half of the attendees were going up and down the aisles dancing to the music. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Mexicans create improvised dance floors.
Why do Mexicans love dancing so much?
Dear Gabaho: Anyone who needs to ask why people dance to Los Tigres del Norte—the norteño supergroup that combines traditional polka beats with socially conscious lyrics to create something that’s part Clash, part Lawrence Welk and puro mexicano—has no soul or is a gabacho. How can you not sway to their metronomic bass, their lush accordion trills, their canned sound effects and member Hernán Hernández’s mexcelente Mexi-mullet?
Mexican music is among the most danceable outside of Brazil, because its practitioners understand that nalga-shaking stirs humanity into the realm of ecstasy. Almost all the genres that constitute Mexican popular music—the aforementioned norteño, the brass-band strut of banda sinaloense, son jarocho’s twinkling harps and guitars, even the dark riffs of Mexican heavy metal—put the focus on rhythms rather than lyrics. (The exception is ranchera, the domain of drunkards and macho pussy men.)
But dancing for Mexicans is more than a mere physical act. Every hallmark moment in Mexican society centers on dances—weddings, baptisms, informal gatherings, birthdays, anniversaries, etc. More noteworthy are the dances held by hometown benefit associations that raise billions of dollars for the rebuilding of villages in Mexico. Tellingly, Mexican society does not consider girls and boys to be women or men until they begin to dance. Once they’re eligible to dance, Mexicans are eligible to take care of their community, too. Mexicans know that dancing solidifies trust, creates community and repairs the injured civic and personal soul.
Besides, it’s a great way for Mexican adolescents to grope each other in a parent-approved environment.
Ask the Mexican at firstname.lastname@example.org; be his fan on Facebook; follow him on Twitter @gustavoarellano; or follow him on Instagram @gustavo_arellano!