My summer work has consisted of working with the Siraya people of Taiwan to expand their international base. Little did I know that I would also become an expert on the popular dance: the macarena.
Hopefully, you are familiar with this cheesy dance. But if you’re a bit rusty, check out the YouTube video here. (Also worth checking out if 90s music videos amuse you!)
How did it come about that I taught this particular dance to the Siraya?
Two weekends ago, we packed up our bags to stay on Houtoupi (literally, tiger head lake) for the first Siraya International Youth Workshop where the Siraya youth met to discuss issue their tribe faces with national recognition and cultural revitalization.
The weekend went well featuring thoughtful discussions on what direction the Siraya movement was heading towards and focusing on fixing internal issues.
After following up presenters including a Sirayan Ph. D. student who studied with the Maori in New Zealand, a chief from the local Paiwan tribe, and a representative of the Tiano tribe in Puerto Rico, I thought that the worst of my nerves was over. (I spoke on indigenous movements and the mechanisms they used to attract international attention).
That is, of course, until we were asked to do an American performance on the spot.
So, the macarena?
Luckily, Tabatha, my fellow volunteer, thought up this particular dance. Although they were expecting a song, I felt more confident in these repetitive, easy dance movements.
So, in one of the most fun and bizarre moments of my life I stood in the front of the room teaching the Siraya youth the steps to the macarena.
They loved it.
The whole room erupted in laughter every time we got to the last dance movement of heyyyy macarena where you twirl your hips and jump to face another direction. They even added their own finger twist.
By the end of the dance I was breathless from cracking up as mushi (pastor) implored us to do it just one more time.
Two weeks later, our Siraya friends have notified us that they can not get the song out of their head.
Edgar explained: “The macarena is always there, in the back of my mind!”
Look out for Taiwanese aboriginals introducing their new favorite dance to the Taiwanese dance floor!