Danc­ing with my dad when I was three

The Guardian - Family - - Family | Family Life - Dr Chan­tal Bailie

La Bamba by Trini López “Para bailar la bamba / Para bailar la bamba / se nece­sita una poca de gra­cia / A una poca de gra­cia y otra cosita / Ay ar­riba y ar­riba / Ay ar­riba y ar­riba por ti seré / Por ti seré / Por ti seré”

When­ever I hear the song La Bamba by Trini López it takes me back to a hot sum­mer night in Cape Town in the 1960s. It must have been the mid­dle of sum­mer, as it was late, but still light and very hot. The heat and sun were still ra­di­at­ing through my sun-fil­ter cur­tains, which were pat­terned with black and white poo­dles. Poo­dles were very pop­u­lar at that time. I was about three and could not sleep. I won­dered down the hall­way to the lounge where my par­ents were hav­ing a party with our neigh­bours. There was no tele­vi­sion and none of them were well off, so they took turns go­ing to each other’s homes.

They would dance to music on the reel-to-reel tape recorder, hold Tup­per­ware par­ties, or play cards with beans for bet­ting us­ing an old sheet with ball­point pen draw­ings to make it into a card ta­ble. Food in­cluded sausages with cheese or cheese with pick­led onions on tooth­picks, stuffed eggs and peanuts.

I re­call the slight sense of trep­i­da­tion I felt, as I was not sup­posed to be up. How­ever, when I reached the lounge, my fa­ther swept me up in his arms, and, singing in time to the music, danced with me to La Bamba. I re­call feel­ing safe and happy. Ev­ery­one was danc­ing and singing to the music.

My fa­ther died quite young, but this mem­ory, my sense of feel­ing loved and a love of danc­ing, that I think started then, have al­ways stayed with me. As a psy­chol­o­gist, I know how spe­cial it is to have had a re­la­tion­ship like this with a par­ent and this song re­minds me of the love, the warmth and the funlov­ing qual­i­ties of my fa­ther.

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