The dancer….

“…Poppy, turn up the lights and let’s rock, and the waiter went off and pulled out the plug and had to pull it out again and then a third time, but as the music stopped every time he switched off the jukebox, the dancer remained in the air and made a couple of long delicate steps, her whole body trembling, and she stretched out a leg sepia one moment, then earthbrown, then chocolate, tobacco, sugar-colored, black, cinnamon now, now coffee, now white coffee, now honey, glittering with sweat, slick and taut through dancing, now in that moment letting her skirt ride up over her round polished sepia cinnamon tobacco coffee and honey-colored knee, over her long, broad, full, elastic, perfect thighs, and she tossed her head backward, forward, to one side, to the other, left and right, back again, always back, back till it struck her nape, her low-cut, gleaming Havana-colored shoulders, the skin on them incredibly erotic, incredibly sensual, always incredible, moving them around over her bosom, leaning forward, over her full hard breasts, obviously unstrapped and obviously erect, the nipples, obviously nutritious, her tits; the rumba dancer with absolutely nothing on underneath, Olivia, she was called, still is called in Brazil, unrivaled, with no strings attached, loose, free now, with the face of a terribly perverted little girl, yet innocent, inventing for the first time the movement, the dance, the Rumba…”

“Three Trapped Tigers”
G. Cabrera Infante

Personal thanks to Patrick Mombrun who so generously shares his eclectic literary tastes with me — Michele Voltaire Marcelin.


Guillermo Gabrera Infante

Many of Cuba’s intellectuals embraced the Castro regime, but Guillermo Cabrera Infante, who criticized it, was condemned as a traitor and forced into exile. From this bitter experience, which included his hospitalization for mental collapse, came the vivid sketches of Cuban life that made up the acclaimed “View of Dawn from the Tropics”. In exile he revised this work into “Three Trapped Tigers”, a savage, tawdry, rambling comic novel about life among entertainers in Cuba in the 1950’s that catapulted him into the first rank of Latin American novelist.

Rumba Dancers in Cuba

An erotic and sensual Latin dance characterized by a slow rhythm, complex footwork and a pronounced movement of the hips. The “Rumba influence” came in the 16th century with the black slaves imported from Africa. The native Rumba folk dance is essentially a sex pantomime danced extremely fast with exaggerated hip movements and with a sensually aggressive attitude on the part of the man and a defensive attitude on the part of the woman. The music is played with a staccato beat in keeping with the vigorous expressive movements of the dancers. Accompanying instruments include the maracas, the claves, the marimbola, and the drums. Rumba’s development in Cuba dates back to the middle of the 19th century, during the Spanish colonial period. The original meaning of “rumba” refers to a community party, usually outdoors. Neighbors would gather to dance at such parties. In this sense, many claim that “rumba” refers as much to a festive atmosphere as it does to a specific dance music genre. In its present form many of the basic figures of the dance retain the age-old story of woman’s attempt to dominate man by the use of her feminine charm. In a well choreographed dance there will always be an element of “tease and run”; the man being lured and then rejected.

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