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Get on Up / Mark Rogers

Sofia and Mark Rogers, dancing in the street in Tijuana

Here we are—Sophy and me—dancing again. But it’s not at a nightclub or Tijuana backyard barbecue. We’re at Rosarito’s City Hall on a Sunday afternoon, in a huge echoing foyer, shuffling around with a couple dozen senior citizens, dancing to cumbia. Some are so old they move in dinosaur rhythms—small movements tottering to the beat.

One guy—a former cholo—does weird, breakdancing moves as though he’s auditioning for Soul Train. It doesn’t matter that his partner can hardly move.

A woman in her 80s transforms into a young girl when she dances—a combination of coltish enthusiasm and grace. Later she tells me when she was a teenager she used to dance with the sailors shipping out of San Diego. Lots of them would take a photo with her. I imagined those sailors carrying the photo in their wallets, passing her off as a girlfriend, even though they’d only shared a couple of dances.

An ancient guy in a fedora, suit jacket, and gray sweater sits bolt upright with a cane in his hand. He has a proud, close-mouthed expression—a spaghetti western countenance. He glances at me and I can feel him thinking, “Where the fuck did this gringo come from.” When the DJ plays a stately danzon, the old guy leans his cane against his chair and extends his hand to his wife. They take to the floor. He may need a cane to walk, but not to dance.

Sophy and I dance for hours. Making new friends. Enjoying the feeling of our joints and muscles being taxed.

The whole enterprise costs nothing. It’s an initiative by Mexico’s charismatic president AMLO—a bid to get older citizens out of their homes, moving their bodies and socializing.

It doesn’t take Archimede’s lever to shift the world on its axis.

Just a DJ and an empty space.


from the memoir in progress, Fort Rosarito


MARK ROGERS is a writer and artist whose literary heroes include Charles Bukowski, Willy Vlautin, and Charles Portis. Rogers lives in Baja California, Mexico with his Sinaloa-born wife, Sofia. His award-winning travel journalism has brought him to 56 countries. His crime novels have been published in the U.S. and UK. Uppercut, his memoir of moving to Mexico, is published by Cowboy Jamboree Press. NeoText publishes his Tijuana Novels series and Gray Hunter series. You can reach him at


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