Monday, November 10, 2008

Two Bucks a Dance 

Rosa is a bailarina. For a couple of dollars per song, she dances with strangers in a bailarina bar. It’s a job held by many immigrant women in Spanish-speaking New York, filling a need created by many immigrant men. The man on the phone is typical of her clients. He’s in his twenties, doesn’t speak English, and immigrated to the United States by himself—no mother, no girlfriend, no wife. He works six days a week at a restaurant and sends his money back home to Ecuador. Most of all, he’s lonely.

Not all of the men are lonely immigrants. Some are Orthodox Jews, whom a bailarina bar worker described as “pinguinitos, because they stand there in their black coats and white shirts just looking around, like a scene at the South Pole.” And some of the men have significant others in New York. Rosa advises them to “Bring her flowers! Take her to a nice restaurant!” She admits that they’re spending money on her that they could be using for flowers and dinner. “But they’re making a good investment, buying my advice.”


I hope that they are wearing gloves, to avoid problems with negiah.


Obviously, the "pinguinitos" are not just standing around to meet her. They're waiting for the maariv minyan held there every weeknight at 3 am, and they simply arrived early.


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