Órale, the word for this episode is órale. It’s a catch-all word that spans a wide spectrum of expressions, from ‘Ok then’ to ‘let’s get it on’ to “hello” or “goodbye.” It’s origins are uncertain, as it can come from the contraction of the Spanish expression, “ahora-le,” which means now-like, and from the Romaní interjection, “orí,” which means hello. Because of its many nuances, Órale is a very forgiving expression, allowing sarcasm to pass for corroboration and yes for no. What’s critical is not just the context, but also what the listener wants to hear. Sometimes the person saying órale gets lucky.
The vato was at a wedding in La Luz. He was there as a chauffeur and escort to his grandfather, a close friend and cousin of the grandfather of the groom, both Carrascos. As it had been drizzling during the day, the wedding party crowded into a small church salon. But spirits weren’t dampened. Everybody seemed merry. A conjunto started playing early, dancing immediately broke out even as food was being served. All three generations present participated and partnered with each other, including toddlers.
The vato had not yet started dancing. There were more morras his age than vatos, but he knew he had to be careful. To him, small-town gatherings often meant jealous local vatos and morras pushing the limit with eligible outsiders. And although it was right across the river from Los Montoyas, where his family was from, the people in La Luz were distant, distant cousins. They wouldn’t necessarily see him as kin. One bad move and he’d be in a fight.
“Mazurkas. It’s gonna get good,” his grandfather complimented the music as they were going through the serving line.
A broad-shouldered morra working the line looked up and smiled at him and his grandfather.
“Claro! Of course, you know what a mazurka is, uncle. No they were your generation’s favorite?” she said, smiling at the vato and his grandfather.
“Sí, but these days nobody knows how to dance a mazurka,” his grandfather replied.
“Pos you should teach us, the youth. How else are we to learn?” she said.
The vato’s grandfather turned to the vato.
“What are you waiting for, mijo, she’s asking you to dance,” he said.
The morra stopped serving and waited for any indication from the vato that the game was on.
“Órale,” the vato said.
The morra took off her apron and walked up to him. And they promptly started dancing.
“It’s like a waltz but you skip a little,” said his grandfather.
The morra knew how to dance a mazurka. The vato followed.
Dancing proved strenuous work on a crowded dance floor. Both were soon sweating profusely.
“You want something to drink,” she finally asked when they glided close to the refreshments table.
“Órale,” he said.
They both drank silently, nodding to each other when the conjunto took a break and cleared the dance floor. The morra smiled sheepishly at the vato but didn’t say anything. The vato kept silent.
“The chavos are outside, probably kissing,” she finally said.
“Órale,” the vato said.
The morra raised her eyebrows and led him outside by the hand.