Chica, Chica, Macho, Macho! Sexy, Sexy!

The golden-vested front man of the Marlin Latin Band is leading a crowd of mostly middle-aged Europeans in a choreographed line dance, the likes of which hasn’t been seen in North America since the heady days of disco and Saturday Night Fever. He calls out nonsensically in a variety of languages and the crowd imitates his every move.

Super Mommy, Boom Boom! Shakey, Shake! Uno, due, ciao, ciao! Eins, Zwei, Chica, Chica! 

After the chica, chica bit, he sways to our left and ostentatiously mimics brushing his hair, with the wave of his hand, as the crowd dutifully copies him.

Chica, Chica, Macho, Macho, Macho! Sexy, Sexy!

The macho-macho line is followed up with a deep pelvic thrust and the sexy-sexy bit comes right before a figure-8 like hip gyration. In between songs he calls out to us, “Applausa, Applausa,” reminding us to clap for him.  I feel at once repelled and yet also drawn to the spectacle. Maybe I’m too inhibited, but you’d have to horse-collar me onto the dance floor and place a loaded revolver to my head to get me to take part in such a bizarre line-dancing spectacle.

Welcome to the wonderful world of primetime cruise ship entertainment. I recently spent a week on board the Costa Neo Romantica and had a grand old time watching the sort of song, dance and variety routines that I would ordinarily run at full speed, as though escaping a burning building from. Don’t get me wrong- there were some first rate musicians on our ship, including classical musicians, a blues guitarist and a terrific Spanish flamenco guitarist, but oddly enough they were relegated to afternoon performances and out of the way café’s.

All of the primetime acts in the main Grand Ballroom were laughably cheesy pop performances or variety acts that were hilarious, embarrassing and often both hilarious and embarrassing. But what I found truly fascinating was how much everyone else, save for me, enjoyed these acts. Part of the difference may be cultural-the ship had an overwhelmingly European clientele, and partly generational- most of the audience was a bit older than me.

Aside from the floorshow spectacles, we were also treated to some high energy dancing on the deck below our cabin as well, usually right after departing a port. The theme for the week was Bomba, which we knew by heart by the end of the week, and, in fact, I think there was just one mix CD played in rotation for the entire 7 days.

I was hearing Chica, Chica, Sexy, Sexy, Macho, Macho in my sleep all week. After all the fun, I realized that it’s fun to take a cruise now and again, if for no other reason than to get in touch with all the pop culture crazes and silliness that it’s possible to avoid when not in a captive audience situation.