Dancing with my dad when I was three
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.