“Weaving Narratives” at a Colmado

I got off the taxi with a friend and walked into the Colmado “Los Muchachos”. It was 7pm and the place was already loud and vibrant. But of course. Colmados are microcosms tucked inside the city. Walls lined with Carnation milk cans, counters decorated with arepa and pan de agua. Sometimes there are blenders making batidas in a corner but mostly, there are Presidentes. Give me a fria grande you say, and you’re handed a green bottle begging to be shared. Plastic cups are included and always tipped at an angle, because foam is not the Dominican way. A small mounted TV with the latest game of play (baseball) for onlookers passing by, spectators sitting on plastic green and white chairs, and as background noise for older men playing domino around a square metal table.
 This night, an amazing female artist took over “Los Muchachos.” She greeted me with her Presidente in hand. Next to her performance piece, with curls bouncing around her face, I listened intently to the words coming out of her fading red lips.
aqui estoy, rescatado memorias…
Gina is a new Dominican-York. Only three American years old, living in the Bronx. She said there is an overwhelming nostalgia for the Island in her neighborhood  ; a constant longing, a desire to be home and recreate home. So she set up a table alongside a street and began weaving a Pelliza, a type of rug made in the north with a potato sack or plastic sheet and brightly colored pieces of fabric.
Her goal was to create a space for Latina women to weave together. A pelliza of fabric and stories, lace and memories. What surprised her the most? That not only women, not only Dominicans, joined in on weaving the 7-foot Pelliza.
I sat squeezed among others, weaving for a couple of hours. As I began to tell Gina about my project, she pulled out her cellphone. Now it’s your turn to be on the other end of the recorder, she said. So I talked about Spain, weaving the narratives of the immigrant women I met.
There was Presidente going around and non-stop Bachata and Merengue music until we finished. Then the Colmado exploded in cheers and we were showered with camera flashes.

 I was mesmerized by Gina’s performance piece. So simple, and beautifully, she captured women’s stories. And here she was, recreating it again. Weaving stories from the Island to the Pelliza made in the Bronx about the Island. Ya tu sabe.


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