Ten things that happen when you go to a show in Peru

I know, I know… It’s been a while, so long that I’m now in a different country… But I blame South American internet, and too much time exploring and eating cake to write about it. Anyway, I’m back (at least for now!) and here with yet more observations of the oddities of life. You see, it all started with getting a free ticket to the dance show at the Centro Q’osqo de Arte Nativo…

10. The seating is not reserved. That doesn’t mean that you get in early, find a good seat and stick with it. Oh no. It means you play an elaborate game of musical chairs, as every time a seat becomes available you dive for it, only to spot another one that might just be better. As they say, the grass is always greener. Or, to paraphrase a song from my childhood, the bear went over the mountain to see what he could see, but all that he could see was the other side of the mountain (for ‘mountain’ read ‘side of dancer’s heads).

9. When the small boy next to you gets bored and leaves, his seat (obviously in a prime position) is immediately taken. He reappears five minutes later searching for his hat. Where is it? Well, in my experience, you’re probably sat on it. The man next to me clearly didn’t subscribe to this theory. Somehow the situation ended up with the small boy crawling under the seat, with the man sat on it stoically pretending nothing was happening.

8. The woman behind’s phone rings. Loudly and for a long time. She proceeds to answer it and conduct an in-depth conversation, which definitely started with ‘Well, I’m sat here watching this dance thing…’.

7. The descriptions of the dances are interspersed with random announcements, including one which specifies that the Ministry of Defence requires that the audience be made aware of all available safety features, including the emergency exits, the location of all fire exits and the entire contents of the first aid kit. This is followed by a nice spiel about a bird-mating dance. No-one bats an eyelid at this juxtaposition.

6. One of the musicians clearly thinks that if he scratches himself under his poncho, no-one will see. This is not the case, especially as he is in the middle of the front row and holding a flute (thus having nothing to hide behind: he could’ve done what he liked if he were a guitarist).

5. One of the dancers appears inept at speedy costume changes, and so the routines invariably start one woman down, with her poor partner trying to bluff with a bit of air-twirling.

4. The lights are oddly inconsistent, turning on and off at random moments. The house lights are reminiscent of those found in school classrooms. An interesting effect is added by all of the flashes from the audience’s cameras going off.

3. It becomes clear that any props used in dances can be weapons: that string of pompoms? A whip. Handkerchief? Yep, that too. Coil of rope? Obviously. Stick? What do you think?!

2. During the musical interval, members of the audience are invited up to dance. This descends into one of those snake trains people make at parties when they’re drunk. A man (who has dragged his girlfriend up onto the stage) disappears into the wings and reappears with a dancer. Girlfriend looks unimpressed.

1. There is, inexplicably, a backdrop of Machu Picchu. And large papier-mâché dancers on the walls. And a large red curtain that swishes shut rather dramatically at certain moments, but is slightly transparent, so odd silhouettes can be seen doing costume changes behind it. Oh, and the shop sells beer and lollipops, whilst the saleswomen outside go for necklaces, llama pens and ceramic ashtrays. Never miss an opportunity for a sale, that’s the Peruvians!

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