Dancing the Night Away

July 14, 2008
By Cristina Mendez, El Paso, TX

My Friday nights are never exciting or thrilling. There is no date I need to prepare for with a cute outfit, or a party in mind to go to and have fun with my friends. The reality is very far from it. My Friday nights are most often me, with my butt implanted on the couch as I listlessly watch That 70’s Show re-runs. There are quite a few reasons for my lack of a Friday night social life. One is that my friends are limited and homebodies like me. I also lack a vehicle, so I cannot drive myself to the movies. Most importantly, I don’t have a boyfriend who can take me out on dates. I know it is dumb to categorize yourself by a guy but my self esteem is low, really low. So, the week my father asked me if I wanted to help him at the Minerpalooza the following Friday I thought, “Why not? I have nothing better to do.”

That week leading up to that Friday, was a nightmare. I had failed two of my physics tests, I ended up losing one of my favorite pieces of imported jewelry, and the boy who I had an unrequited crush on ended up getting a girlfriend. As horrible and stupid as that sounds, needless to say I was not in the best of moods. I was at the point that if I could find a cliff to jump off of I would, and now I did not even want to go to the Minerpalooza. Yet the promise of 20 dollars for helping out my father urged me to suffer through a nagging car ride with my mother and arrive even more depressed with my self esteem circling down the drain.

I gave a weary sigh when I arrived to the booth, seeing the king of video games, or geeks playing with the skill of a twelve year old in the hopes to win a free UTEP jersey.
“Hey sweetie, glad you came.” My father said with that happy go lucky smile of his. I gave my own sort of grimace back and threw down my bag.
“Why don’t you go and look around? I won’t need you till around nine so you can check out the other booths.”

“Do you need tickets or something?” I mumbled, noticing a guy exchanging a bright orange ticker for a turn at the play station.

“Oh yeah. Right….” My father said, digging within his pockets. “Here you go. Just remember to be back in time to help me with the jumping balloons by nine.” He pressed a pile of tickets into my open palm and I stared opening them to reveal how many he had given me.

“Wow….five whole tickets. Thanks Dad.” I said unable to hide some biting sarcasm.

“Sorry it’s all I have for now. Is it enough?” He asked worriedly. I tried to hide my depression with a smile.
“Yeah it’s plenty…” I mumbled with a hint of disdain tinting my voice. I left with a sigh and thought about what I should spend the five orange tickets that were resting within the palm of my hand.

As I walked through the Minerpalooza, I noticed a carnival of orange and blue blew onto the UTEP campus. College students and professors walked sporting blue and orange shirts. There were food vendors selling delights like funnel cakes coated in powdered sugar, cold canned sodas and tortilla chips slathered in cheap, watered down cheese. I was tempted to spend my tickets there, but the outrageous ticket prices of the foods made me steer towards the games.

The rest of the time, I wandered around playing a few chance games run by the college groups which gained me some candy and two feminist buttons. As I sat upon a stone bench, gazing at the carnival I thought. ‘Well its eight o' clock and I have no tickets left.’ I sighed and as I hung down my head regretting of ever agreeing to come here, a fast paced beat and the banging of drums broke me out of my thought.

Following the music with curiosity I traveled toward a stage to the tide, to see a band setting up. I blended in with the rest of the orange and blue crowd as the singer stepped up to the mike. “Hey Miners! We are Fuego Latino here for Miner Palooza. Now let’s see you dance!”

The band erupted into the rapid rhythm of salsa, crimson lights flashing into the night. The singer then began to lament into the microphone in Spanish swaying his hips to the rhythm as he beckoned us to come forward and dance. Some couples took to the floor and begun to follow the quick beat, their feet moving back and forward with the salsa music.
As I watched the couples sway their hips and move their feet, the singer continued to go on, and even if I couldn’t understand what he was saying, it comforted me in some way. With the lights flashing, the singers smooth voice still flowing through the microphone and the couples dancing in front of me, my hips started to sway, bit my eyes still fell to the couples and I gave a small sigh.
‘Well it doesn’t matter. No one would want to dance with you…Who would want you?’
A tap came onto my shoulder and I turned to face a guy. He had curly raven hair and glasses upon his tan face. He gave me a goofy smile and held out his hand.
“Do you want to dance?” He yelled over the music. I wanted to say yes, I wanted to go upon the floor and dance but my insecurity held me back. I made incoherent excuses that he probably couldn’t hear over the music. I can’t dance. I have two left feet. Here I was wanting to dance, here was a cute guy asking me and I was saying no. Yet he continued dragging me onto the floor and took both of my hands.
“Just follow me…” he replied over the music and moved his feet. I stood still for a moment before catching on and trying to match his moves. I swayed my hips copying the girls that I had been watching on the floor. For a while I grinned and thought for a moment I was dancing the salsa. That was when the song shifted to a faster rhythm and I stepped on his foot. He laughed and just spun me around, which made me almost lose my balance but gained it back as he moved behind me and we started to lightly roll our hips. I almost lost my balance but gained it as he moved behind me and we started to lightly roll our hips. The lights became more bright, blue and yellow mixing with the crimson. It was when he dipped me I noticed the full moon looking down at me and I began to laugh.. My head was an inch off the floor; he was gently grasping my back and the salsa music continued to flow through the night air. For that brief moment I felt more right with myself than I ever felt. I didn’t hate myself. I didn’t want to just fall off a cliff and die. I felt like I was wanted.
We danced for about an hour to the songs of Fuego Latino. I could tell the crowd was disappointed as they started to leave when a reggae group took the stage. “And you said you had two left feet.” He said, giving me a hug and a small peck on the cheek. “By the way my name is Isaac.” I gave a smile and replied shyly “I’m Katie…” When we ended up saying good bye to each other and he left, the reggae music began I could not help, but smile and skip in joy all the way to the jumping balloons where my father waited.
“Hey. There you are. You look better.” He said with a smirk taking the tickets from a pair of kids, before they sprinted into the jumping balloon, immediately screaming with joy as they bounced up and down. I smiled and took another pair of tickets from a couple, brushing back a strand of hair.
“Well I feel better.”
“So after this, do you need more tickets?”
I shook my head. “No. No I don’t.”
All the while as I was taking up tickets, there was salsa music within my head and dancing with Isaac. I do not think he really knew what he was doing when he was asking me to dance. The rest of the Minerpalooza, as my father and I gathered tickets, I kept smiling as I thought of Isaac. He gave me more than a good time and a dance. He gave me something better than 100 tickets. He made me feel wanted and that maybe I wasn’t so unattractive after all. He gave me my self esteem again.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!