Siva Siva Mai

I‘m standing over the stove when I hear the music start to play. The bass carrying over the village kicks starts my rusty math skills; if I finish the pasta and sauce that will take 15 minutes, and its 7:15 right now, but if I go right now and they are setting up then I’ll wait around for 45 minutes, but if it’s starting right now and I don’t go until 8, I’ll probably miss half. I go to the window looking for any signs of life, or lack of life, in my neighbor’s house. I decide to finish cooking the pasta, but not to make the sauce; if I’m early than I can offer to help, and if I’m not early then I don’t need to worry.

I twist each half of my hair back to meet in a bun at the nape of my neck. It’s a good thing my hair is still damp from my shower after swimming or else it would be more self-governing and not pin back so easily. It’s important I keep it out of my face. It doesn’t actually end up drying at all.

I start down the road. The music is still calling everyone to the middle of the village.  I hear one of the neighbor girls call behind me. My hair drops; perhaps I’m still too early and she was sent by her mom to call me back; I hate looking like a fool. It works out fine though! She just wanted to walk with me. We approach the fale (gazebo-ish house). It’s lit up, the band is live, and the attendance is near non-existent. Good! I haven’t missed anything!

I’m not one to automatically be ok with sitting by myself, so I’m glad that my neighbors want me to sit with them. I’m not quite as self-sufficient as people think. The band hasn’t stopped playing, and I really want to dance, but no one else is so I sit. Finally one of my neighbors asks me to dance. She is my siva soul mate. She and I can bust some moves. She is 9ish just wanting some fun, and I am 25ish not caring how much a fool I look! The other kids join us and then the adults join in.

I dance the night away. This siva is a church fundraiser; each member family is responsible for one money dance. I don’t know what they are called in Samoan, but I call them money dances.  It comes time for my siva soul mate to dance. As the money song starts to play I strategically wait just a bit. She starts to dance. Samoan dancing is very graceful, I think it has a lot to do with the wrists and elbows; everything is fluid. I start to make my move. I move into the support circle around her, I have my dollar in hand. I wait until its clear, waltz up and BOP the dollar on her forehead. It’s one of my favorite parts. I move back to the support circle, we stand and sway with the music; as we sway, our hands mimic the waves and float back and forth on the beat.

The crowd is alive! I have managed to become the hottest dance partner on the floor, and everyone – under the age of 10 – wants to dance with me.  During the money dances I take a rest on the edge wall. There is still plenty of life outside of the support circle. If a student dances I BOP them on the forehead. One of my peer-age acquaintances dances, I throw his dollar in the air. I sit waiting just a moment during one of the money songs. As the next song starts I quickly recognize the electric slide. There is no escaping that song.

At some point a realize that my face is drenched, my puletasi top is drenched, and my puletasi skirt is soon to be drenched with how much I’m wiping my face and having 5 year olds jump on and off my lap. I decide that I must get some water.  I move to the other side of the fale. The different angle is interesting. I can see the kids running around, chasing each other, jumping off the walls, and leaping down the stairs.  The church committee is busy keeping track of the fundraising and making sure every family gets its credit. The mother next to me starts yelling (only in volume) at the band about the White Horse. An everyone dance starts, but it’s not the White Horse. I stay where I am enjoying my water. I see the floor fill up. I’m fully comfortable now with dancing by myself, I want to dance, so I go dance. I dancingly peruse through the crowd and find a group I can hang with. My partner becomes the girl across from me. I bust a special move and she busts a special move in response. I realize that we are being overshadowed by the 2 kids adjacent to us. I love it!

I make my way back to the side as the song ends; the floor always clears after a song. I aim for a seat on the edge wall, and just as I sit down the next song plays, the infamous White Horse. AAANNNNNNNNNNNAAAAAAA – I told you I am the hottest dancer on the floor tonight – my last partner for the night grabs my hand and we run to the dance floor. The White Horse song is an amalgamation of Shake Shake Shake, the Roof is on Fire and a song about riding the white horse – if this song is referencing what I think it is referencing, I am the only white horse available and everyone knows that that ain’t happening. My dance partner and I break it down! Literally, we shake it down to the floor, we shake it back up, we raise the roof, we twist and shout. We even do a new and original dance move where you throw one leg after the other to the side and kind of wave your arms around – my dance partner is 5ish so this new and original dance move is entirely un-judgeable.

As the song ends I once again make my way to the edge wall. My heart hurts a little because I know that was the last song; I caught the words “toe tasi” (roughly means “one more”) before it started. I sit down and wait while they announce how much was made. My dog has found me, its nice to have something to do while listening to a speech of which you only understand about 10%. The speech ends, the thanks are given – which is a longer process than that sentence implies – and the people start to make their 2-minute way home.

I love the walk home. The road and village line the ocean; everyone on this side of the village has an ocean-front view. The waves crash 24/7, and the sky is always gorgeous no matter the time of day or night.

I enter my house and completely agree with how I feel:

I love sivas.