By: Marlene Ratledge Buchanen | Gwinnett Citizen
By: Marlene Ratledge Buchanen | Gwinnett Citizen
Marlene Ratledge Buchanen

Shortly after Snell and I got married, we decided we would chaperone the graduating class of Duluth High School on a cruise to Nassau and Free Port. We had a stop in Puerto Rico for the evening, and a bunch of the boys wanted to go into Puerto Rico. They didn’t feel comfortable enough to go by themselves, so they approached us about going with them.

We agreed and went to the concierge’s desk to find out what was available in town. There were very few choices, but the concierge told us about an upscale dinner show. It sounded wonderful. The dancers performed folk dances in tasteful native costumes. That sounded safe enough. He suggested we take a taxi so we wouldn’t get lost.

The boys all went back to their rooms and dressed in coats and ties. Snell and I got all duded up and met the guys at the debarkation ramp where we grabbed a taxi to head into town. This was the first time for any of us to ride in a taxi, and we were all crammed inside. I think there were either six or eight of us. We were off on a great adventure of firsts. I was in Snell’s lap, and the boys were mushed up together. Lots of excited, laughter was flowing out of the taxi’s windows.

The first thing the taxi driver told us was not to walk around on the streets. He said to have the restaurant call for a taxi before we went outside and then only to go out to get in the car. OKAY. Maybe going to this night spot in Puerto Rico wasn’t such a good idea. Snell and I had a bunch of 17 and 18-year-old young men with us, and we were headed into an area of such disrepute that the taxi driver warned us away.

Well, we went through some interesting parts of town. We saw lots of people lounging against old cars. Many were smoking and drinking from shared bottles. Several young and not so young women were, ummm, there, too. The boys were quick to point the various makes and models of the old vehicles and, thank goodness, they didn’t pay a lot of attention to the, ummm, entertainment that the men and women seemed to be, ummm, having in and around the cars.

Yes, we are driving a bunch of innocents into the heart of the den of inequity.

We got to the restaurant. It was brightly lit and was very attractive on the outside. It was nearly black as the inside of buzzard on the inside. Once we cut through the smoke and was seated, we had a good vantage point of the stage. We were placed at a long table, not across from each other, but side by side. That was because the floor show was so good that the restaurateur didn’t want you to miss a minute of the artistry of the folk dances and tasteful native costumes.

All of us were excited and laughed and talking together. None of the boys nor myself had ever been to a real live floor show. We didn’t know what to expect, but the meal was good, and the music playing was very nice. Then, drum roll, the show began. The audience lights dimmed even more. If it hadn’t been for the people at the next table smoking like chimneys, we would not have been able to find our forks.

The curtains parted. The dancers came out wearing elaborate feather headdresses and long feathered capes. Beautiful. The lights were colorful and panned around the room showcasing the various outfits. The dancers’ backs were all to us so we could see the glorious flowing capes and the long trailing headdresses. And then slowly, as a group, the dancers started moving, the feathers were gliding with the music. They turned around to face the audience.

There were some very creative folk dances with lots of interesting gyrations. And G-strings. Males with stuffed G-strings and female’s overflowing tassels that could spin in different directions. And who knew gold lame` was a Puerto Rican native material?