Page:Face to Face With the Mexicans.djvu/296

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FACE TO FACE WITH THE MEXICANS.

strangers. The latter find some difficulty in catching the time, but a little practice soon makes them perfect.

Beyond all things it is a boon to the Mexican lover, for it is only when treading its slow, dreamy measures that he can without restraint convey to the dark-eyed darling of his heart the thousand tender utterances that glow afresh at every motion. They can with propriety dance together every danza on the evening's programme and excite no comment.

The danza, though resembling in some respects our waltz-quadrille, differs greatly from it in many essential features. The "sets," if they may so be termed, consist of but two couples. The first figure is a "ladies' change;" next, the lady with her right hand on the gentleman's left shoulder and his arm around her waist, the couples balance four times to each other; then, joining hands, they again balance, go partly round a circle, then back again, after which they waltz away. This waltz may be continued ad libitum, the waltzers pausing at any moment in their revolutions to go through the same graceful maneuvers with any other couple similarly disposed. They generally make a point of not dancing twice with the same couple during one danza.

In a country so favored by climate, the stranger is early impressed by the limited amount of outdoor amusements in which the women participate; in lawn parties, picnics, or riding they rarely indulge. The men are understood, of course, to ride almost unceasingly, but señoritas, though graceful equestriennes, seldom do. At the capital riding is more frequent than elsewhere, and some of the most bewitching beauties—whom Hebe herself might envy—I saw on horseback enjoying the lovely environs of Mexico.

I recall a gay party of twelve señoritas near Tacubaya, ambling along on the broad avenues lined with great trees which stretched out their friendly arms to ward off the scorching rays of the sun. With navy blue and plum-colored habits, big white straw sombreros, their horses handsomely equipped after the fashion of the country, they made a striking picture. Two brothers and three mozos attended them, and they laughed and had a good time.