Page:Face to Face With the Mexicans.djvu/295

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FASTS AND FESTIVALS AND SOCIAL FORMS.

como siempre" ("As charming as ever"): "Es Vd.[1] muy simpática" ("You are very captivating"); "Soy su mas humilde servidor" ("I am your most humble servant"); "Puedo tenor el gusto de bailar con Vd. esta pieza?" ("May I have the pleasure of dancing this piece with you?") To this last remark the answer generally is, "Si, señor, con mucho gusto" (" Yes, with much pleasure"). Not to be outdone, the gentleman replies, "El gusto es para mi—cuanto honor, señorita!" ("The pleasure is mine—what honor, Miss").

On retiring from a visit, as long as in sight, the salutation with the hand, the bow, the "A los pies de usted, señorita" are continued, until one feels as if transported to the days of chivalry.

All Mexican cities have their social organizations, which on one evening in each month give a handsome ball that is attended by the élite of society. With all their tropical embellishments, growing plants, and sparkling water from the fountains in the patio, singing birds, brilliant flowers, and salons of grand proportions and magnificent furnishings, added to the elegant costumes of the guests, it makes a delightful event in the lives of the people and an enviable one for the stranger.

But dancing is an inherited accomplishment with the native Mexican, the younger members of society learning from those more experienced in the ways of the world. Grace and ease of movement are inseparable in the Mexican make-up, but nevertheless as a rule they do not dance as gracefully as one would expect. Teachers of Terpsichorean art have not, from some cause, with their divine talents, penetrated that country. But unquestionably they will follow in the wake of railways and other attendant comforts and perhaps give a strong contest for precedence over the time-honored customs.

The danza is the most distinctively national of all the dances, and bears a strong resemblance to the Habanero, as known in Cuba. Its slow and rather pathetic music, played by native musicians on national instruments, renders this dance fascinating to both natives and

  1. Abbreviation for usted (you).