Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Macarena

Image via atomicballroom.com

Fourteen weeks. Fourteen weeks. That's how long the Macarena held the top spot on the Billboard music charts. Fourteen weeks. That's three and a half months of non-stop Latin-beat line dancing. Not only was the song number one, it was everywhere. I
t was like an airborne contagion, only with a whole lot more butt-shaking. Weddings, bar mitzvahs, middle school dances; you name the venue, people were out there Macarena-ing their hearts out. They didn't care what the words were or where it came from. Most of them were just grateful to have pre-choreographed moves.

As far as dance crazes go, the Macarena verged on phenomenon status
. It swept through the country and the world, though no one seems to know just how it got so popular or how everyone learned the dance. In an age before everyone had high-speed internet, every person between the ages of 5 and 95 seemed to have the Macarena down pat. Never mind that nowadays people have to watch step-by-step how-to videos on how to do the Soulja Boy dance on YouTube at least ten times before getting it down pat. Back in the 90s, dance trends may have been infectious, but they didn't spread virally.

Most of us can't pinpoint exactly when or where or how we learned it, we just all miraculously knew the appropriate times to jump a 180 degree turn counterclockwise in unison. There was something strangely hypnotizing about its repetitiveness. We know longer had to fear the dance floor, wondering when the appropriate moment was to switch from the shopping cart to the lawn mower. We just simply did the exact same routine over and over and over again. It was a relatively foolproof system, though limited skill dancers admittedly may have struggled a bit awkwardly with the pelvic swivels.

It all started way back in 1992 when Los del Rio unleashed their insanely catchy song onto a crowd of unsuspecting VIP Venezuelans. Though the song went through all sorts of tweaks and changes before turning into the dance craze we recognize today, it was that tiny spark of interest that launched a million hip swivels. The original was of course in full Spanish, with, well, interesting lyrics to say the least. That is, the lyrics were completely strange. Just totally, utterly, derangedly odd.

The original Spanish version went a little something like this. Okay, okay, exactly like this:

For those of you out there who do not speak Spanish (myself included), fear not. With the help of the trusty (well, kind of trusty) interwebs, I have tracked down what I can only assume to be an accurate translation. Correct me if I'm wrong, but here goes:

Give your body pleasure, Macarena
Because your body is for giving it pleasure and good things
Give your body pleasure, Macarena
Ehhhh, Macarena
Macarena has a boyfriend whose name is
Whose last name is Vitorino

And during his military swearing in
She got together with two of his friends
Macarena, Macarena, Macarena
Who likes the summers of Marbella
Macarena, Macarena, Macarena
Who likes the guerrilla lifestyle

Macarena dreams of the Corte Ingles (High-class dept. store)
And she likes the most recent fashions
She'd like to live in New York
And trap a new boyfriend

Stop right there. I mean, hold the phone. They might as well be describing me. I love the guerrilla lifestyle. I just adore it. And don't even get me started on the most recent fashions. No wonder we liked the song so much; even if we didn't understand the words, we may have just subconsciously been drawn to such a relatable character as this Macarena chick.

Needless to say, ethnocentric English-speakers required a wate
red-down version for our own understanding pleasure, so they came up with the following:

Now that is what I am talking about. That was most definitely the version I had blaring from my 90s-era Sony boom box. In case you didn't catch it, it goes a li
ttle something like this:

When I dance they call me Macarena
And the boys, they say que soy buena

They all want me, they can't have me
So they come and dance beside me
Move with me, chant with me
And if you're good, I'll take you home with me.

Yeah, that's it. Let's chant together. Oh, that is hot. Are you into Gregorian?

Now don't you worry about my boyfriend
The boy whose name is Vitorino
I don't want him, couldn't stand him
He was no good, so I...ha,ha,ha,ha,ha

Now come on, what was I supposed to do?
He was out of town and his two friends were soooooo fine.

Hey, what happened to Vitorino's military swearing-in ceremony? We couldn't fit that one there, eh?

Come and find me, my name is Macarena
Always at the the party con las chicas que soy buena

Come join me, dance with me
And you fellows chant along with me.

Move with me, chant with me

And if you're good, I'll take you home with me.

Okay, so this version is lacking a bit in the high-end department store/guerrilla warfare categories, but I think you get the general idea.

This handy diagram is great for practicing for 90s theme parties.

Anyway, just try to tell me that the dancers in the remix video are not the prototypical 90s girls. The hairstyles. The clothing. The multiculturalism. The mutliculturalism part is key, too. Because you know what the Macarena does? That's right, it brings cultures together. Forget complicated treaties and trade embargoes, just give us the Macarena and we'll be dancing together in no time. We're not really so different, all of us. We all do the Macarena one arm at a time.


Nic said...

Too funny!

I loved the Macarena. I'll still do the dance now if I'm out anywhere and it comes on. Yeah, I'm just that cool.

Badass Geek said...

Oh, god. I thought I had put this whole Macarena mess behind me.

And the better question is, who *isn't* into Gregorian chant?

Lorelai said...

I'm not ashamed to say that I speak no Spanish (or whatever), but know all the words to the Macarena. Just like I know all the words to the Spice Girls song 'Wannabe' without any prior knowledge of that crazy British language they speak over there.

Kris said...

HAHA! At every dance, every party. so funny!

chloejessica said...

Your blog is so fun! I totally loved the macarana! I thought I was so cool for knowing the dance, but who didn't! And I am totally a child of the 90s, I was born in 85! :)

Andhari said...

In some parties thrown by old people sometimes we still have to do these things lol :D

La La La Leah said...

I had pretty much forgotten about this until today... THANKS..... I too can do the Macarena, it is pretty much the only dance I can do properly. SAD. Well and the chicken dance... But whatever. Those lyrics are so crazy....CRAZY

Carol said...

Oh yeah, the hit at our middle school dances!

Anonymous said...

I managed to avoid The Macarena for YEARS after middle school (they actually taught this dance in the line dancing segment of gym class, but I'd already learned it from dancing with my cousins to the music video) but then, at my cousin's birthday party a few months ago, they played it in the bowling alley. I nearly jumped out of my skin! All the adults were doing the dance and the kids were pretty much all like, "WTF?"

I ended up teaching it to my youngest brother.

Miss Neira said...

oh man..i will never forget when i learned the macarena..its like the one memory i think NO ONE will ever forget..even if they tried haha


Amber (Girl with the red hair) said...

A school dance wasn't the same without it! I'm so playing this song at my wedding one day!

Melanie's Randomness said...

Yes!! The Macrena!! Omg I almost fell off my chair when I saw the chart of how to do it. LOL!!! Luv it!

Glamour Girl said...

Thanks for being one of my new followers! Looks like we are both Scorpios, but 10 years apart. Not a stalker, just read your profile! ;) It will be interesting to read your take on the 90's versus mine.

I couldn't stand Macarena! But, I'm thinking that's because I had already lived through the Electric Slide and survived...

Shoshanah said...

I was actually at summer camp the summer it got big. Every day there would always be dancing before lunch. At the start of the summer no one had any idea what the song what, but by the end everyone was doing it

Kristin said...

Dude, now it's gonna be in my head the rest of the night. Thanks. Ah ha

Meghan said...

Every time you think the macerena is dead just wait for the next wedding with drunk people. It lives on.

Couture Carrie said...

That diagram is hysterical!


Lil' Woman said...

I liked to pretend that I was some hot little latina when I did that dance! :)

Anonymous said...

I learned it at my great-great aunt and uncle's 50th anniversary party in 1995. I was six. It was epic.

Jeanshorts And Baggedmilk said...

We had to learn the Macarena in junior high gym class for whatever reason. We had a whole dance unit. We learned Cat Scratch Fever, Cadillac Ranch, ugh, excuse me while I go punch my memories out of my brain.
And at all our jr high/high school dances we always had the full on Spanish version. None of this Americanized stuff. We had the original!

preppyinnewengland said...

This is hilarious. All the weddings I went to and danced to this song with my girlfriends, NEVER understanding all the words!
My children and I were just talking about this song yesterday! I have yet to show them the dance.

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