Marco and I went to a Peña restaurant on Saturday night called De Rompe Y Raje. Peñas are known for their live music and dance shows. This peña used to be the house of a classmate of Marco's. They rented it out a while ago and the owners of De Rompe y Raja made it into one of the best peñas in town. It is located in Barranco a few blocks from the Bulevar Metropolitano stop. In Cusco peñas are filled with traditional Andean music and dance. In Lima, they are known for hosting the best criollo singers. We were going to see Bartola but she didn't come out until almost 1am and by that time we had already left. It's OK though. We had a great time and we would have stayed but we were tired. We did see an Afro-Peruvian dance group do some festejo (a typical afro-peruvian dance). The rhythm to festejo is super fun and it makes you want to stomp your feet and get up and dance.
It turns out we were lucky to find ourselves a seat because the majority of the place was filled with reservations. People like to celebrate birthdays, go out with co-workers, or go out in big groups to hear the likes of Bartola, Eva Allyon and Lucia de la Cruz. Most audience members share bottles of liquor (whiskey is a favorite) and criollo music live is always accompanied by audience members singing along whole-heartedly in the background enjoying themselves. I remember when we were in Cusco we went to see a criollo singer at Frogs and EVERYONE was singing along to her songs. I have to learn some of the standards so I can sing along eventually too!
Earlier, Marco and I went to a gathering at the apartment of his promo. We celebrated the baptism of his two sons. It was really nice and I chatted for a while with C the wife of another one of Marco's promos. Her daughter is going to take violin lessons with me in a few more months. C wants her to be a little bit older (almost 4 years old). That's fine by me. I will take them on as young as 3 but if they start at 4 there is no harm done. I didn't start 'til I was 6 and. We also chatted with R who told us all about his time in Haiti. I had just finished reading Wyclef Jean's memoir. He is a well-known rapper who was in the group The Fugees in the late 90s and he is originally from Haiti. Among other things, he talks about the state of his home country. It was interesting to hear R's perspective as someone who lived their for 6 months helping out. Point of view is what makes conversation interesting. Overall, it was really nice to hang out with Marco's friends and experience a gathering that will eventually take place at our place when we had kids.
I had a gig playing at a 25th anniversary wedding so I had to get going early. I have to say that I am looking forward to having more gigs singing in weddings with Coro Arpegio than playing my violin. When I take out transportation costs I make very little for the amount of time I spend. I like having the opportunity to play in public more with my violin so I don't see it as a complete waste of time. Also, since I don't practice with the groups that I play my violin with, they obviously don't see the need to pay very much for my service. The better I get, the more leverage I will have and that goes for any job or profession.
I leave you with some videos of Bartola and festejo dancing.
This video of Bartola is from the same peña we were at and it would have been our view as well.