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The Gipsy Kings: Everybody has a first time

By by dianna wray/dwray@vicad.com
May 11, 2011 at 12:11 a.m.

The Gipsy Kings play Rumba Catalana - a kind of pop Flamenco - and sing in Spanish.

IF YOU GOWhat: The Gipsy Kings

When: Sunday

Where: The Arena Theater, 7326 Southwest Freeway, Houston

Cost: $65-$90

Information: www.arenahouston.com

What: Mamma Mia!

When: 7:30 p.m. Thursday, 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The Hobby Center, 800 Bagby St., Houston.

Cost: $31.75

What: "The Missing Peace: Artists Consider the Dalai Lama"

When: Open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday.

Where: The San Antonio Museum of Art, 200 W. Jones Ave., San Antonio.

Cost: $8 adults, $7 senior citizens, $5 students, $3 children.

Go to www.samuseum.org for more information.

What: "Picturing the Senses in Europe"

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 12:15 p.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday.

Where: The Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1001 Bissonet St., Houston.

Cost: Free to $7.

Go to www.mfah.org for more information.

The world is full of firsts. I could tell all about first kisses, first drinks and other oh-how-wonderful-it-was-once-upon-a-time firsts, but it's the first time I ever heard the infectious rhythms of the Gipsy Kings that I'm thinking of, since this band is swinging through Texas.

The first time I heard the Gipsy Kings, I was sitting on the floor of my college dorm room, studying away when my roommate pressed play and those wild and crazy Gitanos entered my life.

The Gipsy Kings are comprised of a group of musicians descended from Spanish Romani - aka gypsies - who fled across the border from Spain to France in the wake of the Spanish Civil War in the 1930s.

They play Rumba Catalana - a kind of pop Flamenco - and sing in Spanish. The music doesn't just have a beat, it's got a pulse, and if one listen to "Djobi, Djoba" doesn't have you dancing, you might not be human.

In my pre-Gipsy days, I didn't dance. Ever. Never ever. Dancing was silly, and I was very preoccupied with not being that. Then I got a listen to the Kings and the gritty brilliance they pulled out of their guitars and vocal chords. The music got to me, and living it up was, quite suddenly, more important than not looking like a fool.

I dropped my Algebra book and pranced around the room - a dancing fool, grooving like there was no tomorrow to the giddy rhythm of the guitars and the raw beauty of the vocals. I looked silly, and felt ridiculous, and for what felt like the first time ever, I didn't care.

I've done lots of foolish things since then (trust me, I've got stories), but I like to think the mysterious Romani gave me that first nudge toward being OK with being silly and just having a good time.

It's funny how some firsts lead right into others - I'd already had my first kiss, but I'm pretty sure I can blame the Gipsy Kings for my subsequent appreciation of red wine, swarthy men and Flamenco music (tattoos and Tolstoy I came around to on my own). It's probably their fault I flunked Algebra, too.

So go see them. Life's too short to be too good.

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