Stars, Stripes, and little bit of Swing

The 4th of July has come and gone. You’d think that, in Chile, absolutely no one would care about the 4th because it’s not their country. Right? Well, I still got a party for the 4th. Get a load of this.

So, I walked into the institute in the morning like it was just another day. It had been pouring that morning, so instead of dressing nicely, like I usually do, I rolled up in a hoodie, jeans, and tennis shoes. No big deal. No one is really strict about a dress code or anything.

I was then informed that there was going to be a celebration for the fourth of July, after classes. Turns out there had been an email sent, but I didn’t get it…But my boss insisted that I go because I’m, you know, from the U.S. So, I said I would go.

I show up to this celebration and am hit with the realization that this is a frickin FORMAL event. Everyone is in suits and ties, important people are there, they’re people walking around with trays of drinks and appetizers, the whole nine yards. Of course, there I am in my hoodie and jeans. Perfect.

But, I go in anyway because I told my boss I would. There were photographers everywhere, so I probably ruined a whole bunch of pictures with my outfit. Whatever. Then, I thought, you know, I’m for the U.S. and this is a 4th of July party, so this is essentially MY party. Therefore, I can wear jeans and a hoodie if I want to.

Then, the entertainment for the event started. They brought in a singing group to sing both the Chilean national all anthem and the U.S. national anthem. Let me tell you, the US national anthem is a hard song to sing, especially compared to the Chilean national anthem which is written in a key that normal people can sing, but this group sang both extremely well. 

After that, they announced that they were going to have dancers. I thought to myself, “What kind of dancers could they possibly get to represent the US??” The answer: swing dancers. Complete with flapper dresses and everything. Here’s a video that my colleague took:

They were super fun to watch. Eventually they came into the crowd and started pulling people up to dance with them. My friend Gabriela was standing right in the front, so she could see and was one of the first people grabbed. I could tell she did NOT want to be up there. 

Everyone else in the crowd saw her get pulled up, so when the dancers came back towards the crowd everyone backed away like they had the plague, but not me. I went right for them. So, I ended up center stage swing dancing with them. 

I’m not a good dancer on my own, but I can follow other people with no problem. So, I did pretty good up there. Plus the dance moves they were doing were really easy. I was told later that I looked like I was part of the group. Maybe they said that because I’m a gringa…

After me and Gabriela’s dancing debut, we hung out for a bit and enjoyed the tiny appetizers. Eventually, they brought around full pieces of cake. Before cake, a woman rushed up to me in a panic and asked, “Are you from the US??” I told her I was and she said that the radio station was looking for a gringo to interview. I quickly declined that offer. I figured I’d end up sounding like an idiot and I didn’t really want to do that voluntarily…But don’t worry, I still managed to get some media attention.

The next morning I walked into the institute and the man at the front desk goes, “You! Come here! Right now!” I thought I was in trouble, but then he turns his computer screen towards me and points at a picture in an online version of the newspaper and goes, “That’s you!” Sure enough, there I was, right in the middle of the picture, swing dancing like there was no tomorrow in my hoodie and jeans.

Every teacher that walked in after that asked if I had seen the paper. One of them even bought me a copy to take home. The name of the newspaper is La Estrella. So, I got to be a star in the newspaper that’s called The Star. Fitting.



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