Guantanamera Cringe

Aug 24, 2007

I'm the assistant organizer for a local Spanish language Meetup. We get together every now and then to practice speaking in Spanish, usually at a restaurant or coffee shop. Sometimes we will go see movies or concerts or whatever peaks our interest.

Last night I organized a dinner at a Cuban restaurant nearby. We were enjoying a lovely meal and happened to be the only gringos at the restaurant (it was in a particularly Cuban town in Jersey). There were two guys strolling around playing songs on a guitar and an accordion. When they got to our table, they asked what we would like them to play. I reached in my wallet and handed them some cash and asked them to play something happy. Just as I was settling in to listen, one of my fellow Meetup-ers asked them to play Guantanamera. All I could think was that we were listening to a Mexican song at a Cuban restaurant. Maybe it's elitist, but it just made me cringe. It's just that it feels so gringo.

So I suffered through it thinking, "My god, I am a stereotype." Oh well, I guess no harm done. I got over it, but it still makes me cringe just thinking about it... yes, we're the gringos that requested the only song in Spanish that gringos know aside from La Bamba. Ay Dios.


Paul said...

Actually, "Guantanamera" ("girl from Guantánamo") is perhaps the best known Cuban song and that country's most noted patriotic song according to Wikipedia, so your group didn't look bad at all.

mexpat said...

Whew... I was still cringing.... I guess it could have been worse if they asked for "La Bamba."