Well last night (August 24th) was a national pastime called Noche de la Nostalgia. Apparently during the 70's it became popular to celebrate music and dance and has lasted to this day. Our local restaurant (1 block away) hosted its own celebration, joining hundreds of venues all over Uruguay. Denise signed up for it a few weeks ago, and at about 9:30 last night, we showed up for the festivities.
We were among the first to arrive. I should not have been a surprise, in a country that regularly eats dinner at 10 pm, that things really didn't get under way for another 1/2 hour or so. For a cost of 400 pesos each (about $17 US), we were treated to: 2 complementary drinks (whiskey or martini), a plate of hors douvres, beer and soda, a nice main entry (chicken stroganoff, very tasty) and a nice little desert. In addition, there was a couple of hours of live music. A couple sang songs, accompanied by pre-recorded tracks and did a very nice job.
A word about the martini. I didn't fancy a whiskey, so we selected the martini. Here is how it played out. The martini was served in a tall highball glass, with a lime wedge perched on the lip. It had ice cubes, a drinking straw and my guess is that it consisted of sweet vermouth with a splash of gin. Now the last item might not be way out of place, since this is south of the equator and many things run backwards (including sun dials). However, it did remind me of a joke that martini drinkers will enjoy and others may not appreciate.
A sophisticated New Yorker on his way through the South on business, stopped into the "Dewdrop Inn" for dinner. When the waitress came for his order, he sarcastically asked if they had ever heard of a martini. The waitress assured him that a martini was the "Speciality of the house". Impressed he ordered one. "Would you like the regular or deluxe?" she asked. "What's the difference?" he wanted to know. "Honey, the deluxe comes with grits." (......rimshot....)
OK- back to the evening. The crowd (about 30-40) was seated in a nice large area, normally occupied by a pool table and some electronic games that had been cleared out. The group was obviously from our neighborhood and with the exception of a few couples, most were in their 50's or better (present company included). We felt right at home. The drinks were served and eventually the sound system set up and the couple began singing songs. The rotating disco ball and black lights added to the scene, and anything white (including teeth) shown with a strange purple glow.
The songs were no doubt very popular Latin American songs, as most of the crowd knew the lyrics and either mouthed the words or sang along. We were probably the only ones who didn't know the songs and were not able to grasp the meanings from the Spanish lyrics. But the general tone was one of love and affection and seemed to generate a nostalgic atmosphere (hence the name of the evening). After the first couple of songs, the couples took to the dance floor and the dance floor was not empty the rest of the night. Everybody danced and some danced for hours.
After about a 1 hour set, the couple packed up and the DJ for the night spun 50's rock and roll songs (strictly American), which the crowd also knew and sang to. If you had pulled up to the joint in a '57 Chevy convertable, dressed in jeans and T-shirt and your hair slicked back with oil, you would have felt right at home (except for all of those old people dancing to the music).
Dinner was served and eventually dessert, but there was almost always some couples dancing. This went on for 5 hours, and though some left, it didn't really seem like it was slowing down a lot. At 3:00 in the morning, Denise and I felt we had "represented" well enough, eating, drinking and dancing the night away and so we finally slunk out with goodbyes and kisses for the hostess, determined to mark this on our calendar and be fully prepared for next year. Hey- with a little practice, we could be the "hot ones" on the floor.
On a different note, the other day we spied this house and it's business sign while driving through Parque del Plata (a neighboring area). The sign says that the man offers his service as a carpenter. Hmmm...any takers?