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La Peña Del Carajo!

Posted by Marco Antonio Mendoza Thursday, July 2, 2009

So last Saturday I had the house to my self, what with my father in Chicago for the International Plastics Convention. Everything was going great, I was just relaxing in the living room when I get a call from my girlfriend to go to a friend's (Carlos) birthday party. Since nothing else was going on I decided to get off my lazy @$$ and go enjoy the evening.

The birthday bash was planned to take place in a Peña (Peña, a grass-roots community meeting place where popular folklore - usually Nueva Cancion - and other artistic expressions accompanied by food and drink are showcased) called Del Carajo! in Barranco, near Chorrillos where I live. Having never been to a peña before I was quite excited, I had heard and seen so much about them and was really looking forward to it.

After getting lost driving through side streets and dark alleyways that could make the hairs on the back of anyone's neck stand up, I arrive at the peña. It was located in a very narrow and poorly lit street. The sidewalk was full of people from all walks of life and social classes waiting in a large line. Since no one that I knew had arrived yet I was forced to wait in line. Finally my girlfriend (Zdenka) arrives just as the line begins to move. The fee for entrance is S./20 (soles) per person before 11pm and S./3o after. As we approach entrance we are greeted by two huge bamboo doors that open to revel a large tropical interior filled with rows of tables, two seperate bars, a fairly moderate (at first sight) dance floor, and a large stage. We are seated at our reserved table and soon after the birthday boy and all his friends arrive. Beers are purchased and then consumed as the band sets up the sound equipment. 30 minutes later (Midnight) the house is packed with no empty table in sight, then our attention is commanded by the sounds of Criollo music.


Friend, Zdenka, & Carlos



The host, an older woman welcomes the patrons and introduces the band and establishment. Then we are treated to a presentation of the Afro-Peruvian dance, after all that's what a peña is all about. It is truly amazing to watch them dance and move their bodies in ways that most people wish that alcohol could do for them. After the performance we were encouraged to get out on the dance floor as the band played a medley of latin, cumbia, salsa, and criollo music. I can't begin to tell you how great it is to dance to your favorite songs with that live band sound. The only real downside was the dance floor, it got so packed that at times you were stepping on toes and heals left and right, back and forth.




Here are some of the photos from the night:


Carlos's Friends from work

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