For the second year in a row, Edison Garrone has outdone himself. In an effort to increase teacher morale at the school, Edison was permitted to throw a teacher prom during a Friday evening in our auditorium. Teacher prom is exactly what it sounds like: Food, alcoholic beverages, dancing, and a lot of teachers getting together to have a great time.
Decorations are brought in, a DJ is hired, a disco ball is dug up from somewhere, and an open bar keeps everyone in good spirits (pun intended). Last year, it was me, Tavis and all of our local teachers. While more expats came this year, the best part of teacher prom is getting initiated into the Uruguayan culture. Most of the music played is from the 80s and 90s and most of it is Argentina rock. I love watching the teachers belt out classic music from their childhood and young adult years. I makes me want to learn the songs so badly. Men and women dance around, their latin roots unable to help themselves. But in true Uruguayan fashion, we always start in a big awkward circle staring at each other dancing.
This year’s teacher prom was extra special. I was finished with chemo and ready to finally party. I had missed the dancing at Valeria’s birthday, too tired to even make it to 11 at night let alone try to dance. But this time, I was going to bounce around and sing the Spanish songs that I had learned over the year as best as I could. Plus, our new principal and his wife were in town. What a great way to see how our community reacts to celebration. Because teacher prom perfectly epitomizes our teacher community.
The expats arrive early or on time. The Uruguayans stroll in up to an hour late. We are all friendly, but a little distant – feeling out if we are going to be judged or not. In true American and Uruguayan fashion, we stick to our comfort zones. Then the food comes. The drinks start to flow lifting our spirits (pun intended). The Americans drink too much and the Uruguayans are either done after a drink or two or stick to the non-alcoholic beverages because they are driving. After a few hours the middle school dance circle deforms.
At some point during the night all of the following will happen: Michael Byrne will do a high kick (Yas Queen!). Gabriel will dance with every single female, me being the worst one (circle your hips, darling. Circle. CIRCLE! Not a square!). Camilo will try to dance with me only to have Gabriel warn him about my white girl rhythm. Javi will bounce. Seba will dance alone in the middle of the circle with his eyes closed. Most of the women in the room will pretend not to keep staring at Nico our PE teacher. Matt and Julie will dance a slow dance. Valeria and Pablo will outshine us all (couple goals). Lots of elementary selfies will be taken. Brad will leave without telling anyone. Most of the significant others who were dragged along will stand around the tables chatting with each other. And the music will drastically shift from American pop to Argentinian rock. Desert being served will cause everyone to take a pause. Then it is back to the dance floor until 2 or 3 in the morning.
And that is why I love these people. No one gets sloppy. No one does goes outside of professional. We are at school, after all. But we do know how to have a good time and let our hair down. It may take a little while, but we get there. By the end our feet hurt. My shoes have been off for hours. We are sweaty and tired. But we are just a little bit closer than we were before.