The club I play in Playa is called Posada Xi Ka’an. Don’t worry about the weird name. In the Yucatan a name like Xi Ka-an (from the Mayan: “Place of the Site of the Location of the Spot”) is no big deal. They have places around here named Oxkutscab and Tixcogob, man. Dzilbalchan, Dzinup, Xclakal, Xul-Ha, Hochob, Holbox, Xkaladzonof, X-Masil, Chikinzlofla. There’s even an Xpo, but it ain’t pronounced like they do in Houston. So do what everybody else does, fake it. The Mayas themselves can’t pronounce these things. I mean, come on…Xclaf? They just put the names on the map to confuse invading armies. It didn’t work. But it sure freaked out my spell checker. Check the website, Xzkcl.ctlom.
Seagull The Blasé Sojourner
Seagull could cover a mind-numbing number of songs, and had written a few of his own, but he was at his best–and remember, it’s all relative–when jamming his own lyrics on existing tunes. Such as Jimmy Buffet’s “Margaritaville”, of which he had done dozens of vamps, including the one he was singing at the moment.
I spoke with the waiter, he said, “Be by later”
I’ve been here an hour with two lousy brews
They say “ahorita” or “un momentita“
And leave you alone with the “mañana” blues
I’m wastin’ time again in Ahorita-ville
They said they’d bring it in a Mexican minute
I’m wasting away to bones in Ahoritaville
I called for the cuenta, they said, “un momenta“
I’m wastin’ half my life in Ahoritaville
A crowd-pleaser, especially among “sophisticates” like this film festival scuzz, who congratulated themselves for knowing what the Spanish lyrics meant–unaware that everybody else in the world did, too: even the Mexicans. But the waiters just hated it.
As soon as the meager applause died out, he ditched his multi-forged guitar and grabbed his dumbek, tossing the strap around his neck so it could hang right in front of his crotch. He pounded a quick, bright staccato on the rim, then moved to the slap and went into his watered-down, generic, but energetic Afro beat. And Copper was suddenly just standing there. Staring at the crowd with her arms hanging at her side, trailing chains. Slowly she lifted her arms and held them over her head, the Lost Soul dangling her chains like a broken puppet’s string. Then suddenly, somehow, they ignited and she stood between two crackling balls of fire. She paused a beat, then swung the fireballs around her, the excess white gas blasting parallel tongues of fire onto the floor like hot rails to hell. As always, she danced a trance inside the sphere of holy flame.
At the front table, where you could actually feel a little heat from the blazing poi, Loris turned to Gareth and said, “Think about it, you show up with some music and entertainment, and hint that it’s what your films about. Hand drums and fire-spinning: hot totems for today’s youth.
Gareth leaned back and scanned her. “What makes you think that’s what it’s about?”
Loris smiled. “What do you think?”
Gareth, mindful of her close rapport with the rock head he expected to direct his film, nodded sagely. But please, show up and try to impress Coppola and Shane Black with a hippy fire dancer? How about a mime, just to round it all out? Maybe an organ grinder? Kenny might like that angle.
The gas was just about exhausted in the wound Kevlar balls at the end of Copper’s scything chains. And suddenly they flew off her hands. The crowd gasped as the chains flew across the floor and out the open door to the deck, pinwheeling alongside each other as their fires guttered out.
And between the flying sparks, Xchab walked into the club not looking at anybody, just doing a very Indian-like shuffle-dance to the beat of Seagull’s drum. She held her arms out from her shoulders, swept slightly back like a jet’s wings. She moved slowly into the room, shuffling and stamping, her taut young body weaving dreamily.
There were twenty parrots in the entryway to the Xi Ka’an, wings clipped, their scintillating, psychedelic feather moirés somewhat dulled by captivity in huge wrought-iron cages. And suddenly, for no reason, the birds were out of their cages. And flying on chopped-down wings. Xchab danced into the center of the floor, her arms rising and falling as she bobbed, her hands making circles in the air. And a squadron of brilliant birds hovered behind her arms, making big, flat, iridescent wings that moved and wavered and pulsed behind her as she danced without knowing her arms had become the leading edges for a flying wedge of determined, silent birds. Or that a huge blue parrot,with gold chest and white circles around its red eyes, was hovering unerringly over her head, fluttering back and forth as she nodded her erect head and shook her gleaming jet mane.
Winston entered the room unseen as people froze with cigars halfway to their lips and icecubes lying in their mouths, gawking at the Mayan girl dancing as the focal point of a wing of flaring feathers. He put a six-hole cane whistle to his lips and started piping. It was a shrill but soothing sound, a highly Indian tattoo of chrome notes as clear as icepicks, broken up by a slightly breathy counterpoint. Music from the Chiapas highlands, a splashing Laocoon rain over the tight metallic beat of the dumbek. Copper shook a bundle of goat hooves, producing a dry tambourine-like sound that reeked of stone temples and yellow eyes in the jungle.
Suddenly Seagull rattled off a sharp burst of rimshots, Winston reached into the highest register for a sustained scream from his whistle and Xchab threw her arms over her head to bring her hands together. The birds flew up, spiraling into the high rafters of the club. Then the lights went out.
Copper was working the tables with professional cool, her tin can wrapped in woven ribbons clanking and whispering as it filled with loot, Kenny was staring like a man envisioning tongues of fire, Gareth slowly turned his face to Loris, eyes wide and mouth sagging open.
She chuckled and touched his forearm on the table. “They’ll just love to see us,” she said.