Monday, September 13, 2010

Miami: Best & Worst & Santería

My lit geek friends and I seem incapable of throwing a party without a costume theme; it's Halloween about once a month for us. The latest theme, this time for a birthday fiesta, was "Best and Worst of Miami," and the English crew did not disappoint. A few of the highlights below:

- Miami tourists, complete with Hawaiian shirts and fanny packs
- The couple from the show Dexter, which is set in Miami
- The requisite Miami Vice guy
- A ditzy, scantily clad UM student armed with inflatable breasts from Party City
- A scantily clad Hialeah girl (The scantily clad motif was especially popular.)
- A mojito (She was green and looked delicious. Well, you know what I mean.)
- Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden (Best dress idea ever.)

I went as a santera (a woman who practices Santería).

If your background is Cuban, chances are that someone in your family practices the religion (no matter how "strictly Catholic" the family may be), and most who have grown up in Miami are at least aware of it. Perhaps they've wondered at the botanicas (Santería shops) around town, or perhaps they've spotted one too many headless chickens in their day. My Catholic high school, situated next to the Cuban, Catholic church of La Ermita de la Caridad, was no stranger to dead chickens. We scored a day off school once because of dead chickens. Thank you, dead chickens!

Most people at the party, though, had not grown up in Miami and did not know what to make of my ensemble. Was I a gypsy? a tropical ghost? a ... umm ... lady who likes to wear white? Two Cubans and one Spaniard got it, though. Big up!

So, was I representing the best or the worst of Miami? I suppose that depends on whether you view Santería with a sense of wonder or a sense of fear.

Because music plays an integral role in Santería ritual, I leave you with a song about Santería by local Cuban artist Willy Chirino aptly titled "Mister Don't Touch the Banana."

* For further personal anecdotes from a fellow Miami blogger on this topic and to understand why you shouldn't touch the banana, check out this post.

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