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Celebrating New Year's Day

Today for New Year’s Day festivities, there is such a wide choice of places to go that all the friends will be split up. Chances are that you will be able to greet and hug only a few of your friends for some will be at Jaguar’s, or Iguana’s, Fido’s, Ramon’s, Holiday Hotel, Big Daddy’s, Hideaway, or some other spot where music is the main attraction.

Twenty five years ago one could hug and wish Happy New Year to all of one’s friends, for they could only be at two possible spots to go and then you had to choose one spot to go to. The young people had to go to their usual dance spot and that was Daddy’s Club, later on Big Daddy’s. The married people all went to the “Baile de los Viejos” or dance for the old people which were held at Tio Pil’s downstairs where Cholo’s is presently located. The passport to that dance was not age, but that you had to be married and only married couples were admitted. These two dances were sort of gala events in San Pedro, and it was sort of a competition between the teenagers and the married couples.

To begin with, both groups or organizers had to book for their favorite musicians well in advance of the New Year. Musicians were never imported for New Year’s Bash. There were several accordion players, guitarists, and drummers in San Pedro, and one would book them two or three weeks in advance. In my days as a teenager, Wil Alamilla was the accordion player for the teenagers, and Ovidio Guerrero for the married couples. Both dances started at 8 p.m. and were in full swing by midnight. The married couples had the tradition of going to the first part of the dance in regular or ordinary clothing, and then at midnight they went home to change into their party clothing. Both dances were interrupted at midnight and the entire village went to midnight mass or “Misa de Gallo”. (The cockerel mass, probably because some cocks started crowing from about that time.) Once the mass was over, both dances resumed, and that is when everyone let loose and into the real party mood. By then, after several drinks, there were many vocalists or singers who volunteered to sing their favorite songs accompanied by the accordion band. In between sets, the young people would rush to visit the “Baile de los Viejos” with the hope of seeing their parents and older folks dancing. The married men, on the other hand, never visited the teenagers’ party.

The teenagers’ dance usually ended by three in the morning, and it was then that a few tried to enter the other dance, but would be accepted only when they admitted that they had lost the competition. To encourage the crowd to stay at the dance, the men kept on drinking, but they served the women hot chocolate or coffee with biscuits. This dance went on until sunrise and all the men would say, “Hasta que raisa el sol”. At times the dance was so good that it kept on going until 8 or 9 in the morning. By then the men were drunk to even stand up, and one’s children had gotten up and had come to look for mom and dad. This marked the end of the party,but what a celebration that was to bring in the New Year, 25 years ago.

Ambergris Today, wishes everyone a Happy New Year’s celebration and a prosperous year in 2002.

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