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Empire state of mind

after the first night: Queens is a Gumbo

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Volumes of pages are dedicated to describing Queens, and indeed all of New York City, to the point where writing another description seems almost destined to be relegated to cliché.

But hell, everyone has a different voice, and mine is just as important. So I’ll describe a bit of the city and focus on my experience.

To begin, Queens is a city of diversity, a cultural “Gumbo” where nearly every imaginable race and ethnicity is represented. This to me is beautiful; it is a perfect example of the American landscape, a reflection of American society at-large.

It is an exhilarating feeling to join the Gumbo. And to begin exploring its contents.

Por un beso de la flaca daria lo que fuera; por un beso de ella aunque solo uno fuera.

Sunday was my first actual night out on the town. It started out with a fiesta, live music included. The band, no name given, played covers of several rock en Español acts, including los Fabulosos Cadillacs, Jarabe de Palo, Soda Esterio.

Again, the experience was exhilarating but also completely empowering. Listening to this stuff in New York? At a party? A beer in hand, a rhythm coursing through my body. It was almost too good to true, but there I was, snapping photos and dancing while sitting on a concrete wall, overlooking the band and the crowd.

And the people. They music was fused inside the bodies midway through the first song. After that it was all dancing, nothing but grooving, bodies swaying, hair swooshing, drinks swigging, minds swelling with the booming of the bass drum.

I danced nearly every type of Latin dance during the DJ set. Cumbia. Merengue. Salsa. Bachata; wait, scratch that last one. I don’t dance Bachata.

They even covered Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance,” and Black Eyed Peas “I’ve Got A Feeling.” I hate both of those songs. But with the help of the band, I fell in love with these tunes. They injected each song with a thunderous sonic of ripping guitars, flaring keyboards and bombastic drums. The bass was heavy as well, heavy and teasing, teasing the crowd to dance, daring them not to move while it played.

That lasted for about an hour. The band split their music between two, 6-song sets. Even the neighbors took notice. How could they not? Soon the crowd included a few people on the apartment buildings across from the band, listening to them while perched on white-metal balconies and small windows. They clapped along. They danced along. They were just as much part of the experience. And they loved it.

I sipped on about three different types of beers (the gathering was a beer-festival, I everyone was asked to contribute by bringing some beer. Naturally, I contributed with a tasty six-pack of Coronas. I mean, the name of the area was Corona. I had no choice.) From a particularly delicious light brew called Blue Moon, to an awful, dark stuff called Red something, there was several types of beers for all to enjoy.

I also ate 5 burgers by the end of the night, accompanied by 5 drinks. In other words, this helped keep my buzz oscillating between groovy and tipsy. That and moderation. Learn it kids. Makes you feel like an adult.

I left the party at around 1 a.m., and was taken to a local nightclub called LaBoom. It is a Mexican nightclub, and well, I felt right at home. It was such a Denver scene. Stetsons replaced fedoras; pointy leather boots and matching belts were all the rage here.

Again, I danced my ass off. It was cool, but not as interesting as my previous dance. One more drink, amaretto sour with a touch of attitude.

So there is day one. Awesome. Exciting. A little dangerous.

Here’s to all the people who made it possible, and to all the people who made it memorable.

You’re next Manhattan.

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About Esteban L. Hernandez

Reporter in Connecticut.

Discussion

2 thoughts on “after the first night: Queens is a Gumbo

  1. Yes it is a Gumbo!

    Posted by EJCreoleBoy | May 30, 2011, 6:53 pm
  2. You’re first night in NY and you’re out on the street? Who needs to see Times Square anyway?

    Sounds like you’re doing awesome. I’m a little jealous.

    Did you take to pictures on this post? They’re pretty cool.

    Posted by Brent Wescott | May 30, 2011, 7:27 pm

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