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Danzón is a dance filled with pauses and flirting. We went to Mexico to take lessons.

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If you take a taxi across Mexico City on a warm Saturday morning you can't miss the city's dozens of parks filled with elderly dancers.

They are all practicing Danzón, a dance form which started in Cuba in the late 1800s, but now is most popular in Mexico. The dance is formal, and known for its long pauses and stylized flirting.

Clubs all over town have danzón nights, but those events cost money. The park gatherings on Saturdays are free and open to all.

Even this inexperienced gringo got in on the action. Antonio Romer Guitierrez, one of my dancer partners, explained there was nothing to be shy about. "You just learn a few moves, you start to gain confidence, and then you start doing other dance moves," she told me.

Before long, like hundreds of other dancers, I was floating across the plaza, catching colonial fountains in the corner of my eye.

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Producer Asa Merritt stares down at his two left feet

The dance itself is a formal partner dance. Long pauses punctuate established four and eight beat sequences. During the pauses, dancers mingle, flirt and walk on and off the dance floor.

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The popularly of danzón has ebbed and flowed. A huge resurgence in the 90's, led by senor citizens, is responsible for its widespread popularity today. In 1991, the film "Danzón" brought the dance to the big screen.

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Beyond Mexico City, Danzón is also popular in Veracruz, Mexico

Danzón shows no sign of going anywhere, despite its migration from Cuba to Mexico and continually shifting demographics. In fact, that's what might keep it alive indefinitely.

"In the past they used to say that this music is for older people, for people over 60 years old," said Guitierrez. "But slowly, a lot of young people have started dancing, even children. They come here and take classes. So they take classes, get prepared and they become really good, do their own shows, it’s very cool."


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