Belting oldies in English and Spanish, Gloria Gaynor shows she has survived

San Miguel de Allende is not even close to the road between Hollywood and Broadway, so when a recognizable headliner, even an oldie, shows up in town, it’s reason for some buzz.

An oldie but still definitely a star.

So it was with Gloria Gaynor, a disco queen from the seventies, who put on an awesome show here on the Fourth of July, even if Stew and I, and two friends, one from New Zealand, the other from Canada, seemed to be the only gringos around. The curious ethnic composition of the screaming, dancing-in-the-aisles crowd of about fifteen-hundred. was but one of the surprises of the evening.

In case you’re wondering, and you probably are, Gaynor is sixty-five years old, chunkier than we remember her and not as agile on stage as she used to be, but looking damn good even from our third-row seats.

Generation Gap Alert: Some in the enthusiastic crowd were not
even born when some of Gaynor’s hits originally came out.  

She took a couple of breaks during the ninety-minute show, which covered the expected standards from her own repertoire and from Donna Summer’s and Roberta Flack’s. During one of the breaks a young trombonist from the ten-piece back-up band took to the stage with an amazing dance number that left you exhausted just watching it.

Apart from the absence of graying gringos, who might have been wearing bell-bottomed pants for the occasion, was the venue, a new small convention center opened about a year ago off the main avenue into San Miguel. From the outside it looks about as glum as Lenin’s tomb, but the inside was downright plush, with one large ballroom-size space with a stage and a large lounge/anteroom with a bar.

Then Gaynor tore into the crowd with introductions to her numbers in Spanish—and pretty good conversational Spanish too, not something she picked up a week ago.

The almost all-Mexican crowd, thirty- or forty-ish, seem thoroughly familiar with Gaynor’s songbook and eager to sing along. Are we in San Miguel, 2015, or at a gay bar in Chicago, circa 1980?

One glitch was the sound system which seemed to overwhelm the relatively small room and sometimes even Gaynor and her backup singers.

Gloria Gaynor closes the show. She can survive, indeed. 

When it came to the finale—”I Will Survive,” naturally—she sang it in Spanish, with the crowd, by now piled up at the foot of the stage and waving their arms, singing along in English. Much screaming, iPhones flashing, a quick encore, and it was a memorable Fourth of July.

For Stew and me, it was the best Fourth of July we could remember, going back the blow-outs in Chicago’s lakefront Grant Park. Except we were in Mexico.


4 thoughts on “Belting oldies in English and Spanish, Gloria Gaynor shows she has survived

  1. Anonymous

    That sounds like the epitome of fabulousness. Saludos,Kim GBoston, MAWhere we think “I Will Survive” is something of an anthem for the gay community.


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