Older people negotiating dance routines, intimacy, and racialized differences provide a focal point for an ethnography of danzón in Veracruz, the Mexican city closely associated with the music-dance genre. Hettie Malcomson draws upon on-site research with semi-professional musicians and amateur dancers to reveal how danzón connects, and does not connect, to blackness, joyousness, nostalgia, ageing, and romance. Challenging pervasive utopian views of danzón, Malcomson uses the idea of ambivalence to explore the frictions and opportunities created by seemingly contrary sentiments, ideas, sensations, and impulses. Interspersed with experimental ethnographic vignettes, her account takes readers into black and mestizo elements of local identity in Veracruz, nostalgic and newer styles of music and dance, and the friendships, romances, and rivalries at the heart of regular danzón performance and its complex social world.
Fine-grained and evocative, Danzón Days journeys to one of the genre’s essential cities to provide new perspectives on aging and romance and new explorations of nostalgia and ambivalence.
Vignette 1. Gerardo, Elena, and Miguel [Fiction]
Introduction. Danzón, Veracruz, and Ambivalence
Vignette 2. Teresita [Fiction]
Chapter 1. Racial Ambivalence: Veracruz, Blackness, and Danzón
Vignette 3. Pancho [Fiction]
Chapter 2. Ambivalent Nostalgia: Histories and Memories of the Port and Its Danzón
Vignette 4. Renata [Fiction]
Chapter 3. Elegant Moves: Modernist Aesthetics and Danzón in Veracruz
Vignette 5. Lulú and Antonio [Fiction]
Chapter 4. Moves to Rescue: Reviving the Dance, State Sponsorship, and Power
Vignette 6. Hettie and Uriel
Chapter 5. United in a Viper’s Nest: Group Dynamics, Conviviality, and Rivalry
Hettie Malcomson is an associate professor of ethnomusicology and social anthropology at the University of Southampton.
“Malcomson provides a superb ethnographic study of ambivalence in lived experience: danzón is disciplinary and jealously competitive, yet it gives aficionados room to be creative and convivial, and to weave identities around narratives of blackness and race mixture, local histories, and personal trajectories. A brilliant exploration of how people navigate the contradictions of everyday life.”--Peter Wade, coeditor of Against Racism: Organizing for Social Change in Latin America