Traditions can be fun, touching

By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer

There’s nothing like a wedding dance to remind your family what a bad dancer you are. But when I was with familia at my sister Becky’s recent wedding, I was like,
“What the heck?”

I just had to dance “La Marcha,” which no Mexican wedding would be complete without. Then there was the “YMCA,” which I just had to dance with Becky, for old time’s sake, and which, again, no Mexican wedding dance would be complete without.

As a matter of fact, I hinted to Becky before the big day how much I was looking forward to doing the “YMCA.”

One time, Becky and I stood up with a crowd at a Lobos baseball game in Albuquerque, to the embarrassment of our daughters, Laura and Kim, and joined in the “YMCA.” For anyone raised in the 1970s, this is your civic duty.

Then there was “The Twist,” which presented a perfect opportunity for me to show my tios and tias how out of shape I was. No Mexican wedding dance would be complete either, without “The Dollar Dance,” “La Macarena,” “The Electric Slide,” “The Cha Cha,” and then a moving custom, “La Entrega de Novios” at the end, which brought me to tears.

If you’ve never been to a Mexican wedding dance and seen the traditional La Marcha, which is performed near the beginning, you don’t know what you’re missing. It is a sight to behold and it’s an honor to be chosen as the lead couple.

Couples line up in partners, beginning with the leaders, followed by the bride and groom and wedding party and then guests. Everyone marches around the dance floor, clapping hands and moving around in a procession. Then the males and females separate in the middle of the dance floor. When the couples meet again, they form a continuous arch with their hands, which couples go under. As couples come out of the arch, they link hands and form part of the continuous arch.

Finally, couples link hands and form a giant circle around the bride and groom who dance in the middle. They are soon joined by their parents and then all the other couples join in.

At any traditional wedding, the bride is kidnapped, so I was not surprised when Becky disappeared and my cousin Eric became the obvious culprit. However, little action was taken at first, so my aunt Paula suggested I have a talk with my new brother-in-law.

I informed Billy that his new bride had been kidnapped to which he asked, “What do I do?” I reminded him we had to collect a ransom. So Billy asks me, “How much do I ask for?” at which I respond, “Well … how much do you think she’s worth?”

Later, while I was busy visiting with tias and tios, I didn’t realize it was time for the bride to toss the bouquet. I was ready to make a mad dash for the dance floor and intercept the catch, but I disappointedly realized I would not make it in time. Becky already had the bouquet over her head and was swinging her arms. Imagine my surprise and shock though when my 16-year-old daughter, Laura, caught the bouquet. My dad and I both hugged her, but we strongly advised Laura to wait at least five years, preferably 10.

As the dance drew to a close, everyone gathered around Billy and Becky for “La Entrega de Novios,” a beautiful custom in which the bride is formally given to her husband. Lyrics of the song state to the bride and groom that no longer are friends or family first. Their priority is to each other. Parents offer their blessings and at the end of the song, the bride is placed with her in-laws and the groom with his in-laws, signifying that the in-laws must now consider them a part of their families.

After the parents and padrinos give their blessings, family and friends line up and offer theirs. This is what brought tears to my eyes as I made a sign of the cross on Becky’s forehead and then hugged Billy and told him to take care of my sister.