by Scharlene Fulmer

We were in Curacao! On a shore excursion from the Holland America ship, The Zuiderdam. I was feeling exceptionally happy having just enjoyed the many flavors of the Distillery of Chobolobo , where the world famous Blue Curacao liqueur is made.

Curacao is an island that is part of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean Sea, near Venezuela. The Capital, Willemstad, is a Dutch Inspired town with a Caribbean twist, with red roofs and Pastel colored buildings that are rich in island culture.

After the distillery we were off to a folkloric show where local dancers dance the Tumba, the rhythmic dance of the island…audience participation welcomed!

We found great seats in the second row. The lights dimmed and The Caribbean rhythms began. The first couple came on stage in amazingly bright yellow and green floral print native costumes. The women wore long skirts and intricately wrapped head scarfs and the men had printed shirts and slacks and wore straw hats.

They began a dance of first meeting, shyly attracted to one another. These dances had been performed by the African natives who had been brought to Curacao during the days of the slave trade. The First couple began by slowly moving toward one another, flirting to the slow beat of the music. Soon, other dancers appeared and as each coupled, the dances became more intense, with increasingly loud Caribbean rhythms. They were gyrating… it became very sexual! The Audience was loving it!

There were two sets of dances with an intermission for a costume change. At the end of the second set, one man and one woman dancer each enticed an audience member down to the stage.

I was chosen.

I attempted to decline, but was encouraged to go on stage to dance with the lead dancer. He took me onto the floor. The audience was cheering in anticipation. They had just seen how difficult the dances were for the energetic young ensemble so when the lead dancer purposely chose me, a blonde senior women, they were ready to be entertained. What fun! Little did they know that I love to dance to Caribbean rhythms!

As I watched the woman first teaching some involved movements to the young man she chose for a partner, I turned to my partner saying, “see what that man is able to do… no way I’m doing it !” I knew I would never get up from the floor had I attempted to do those deep knee bends moving along in a conga line. I was ready to dance, but not ready to be memorialized as the senior lady who fell on her derriere while being filmed by the ship’s photographers and those flashing cameras in the hands of other passengers!

I did dance, and I did have fun. From that day to the last of the eighteen day cruise, passengers would smile at me, and compliment me for my bravery. One sweet woman always referred to me in her Scottish brogue as ‘that dancin’ lady’. The entire dance had been filmed, so I saw myself included in the ship’s montage of the entire cruise!

The real story here is that most senior ladies can dance to the rhythm anytime, anywhere…just ask ’em.