A Music Filled Week in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic

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Disclaimer: I spent the week which I am writing this article about with no cell phone and no internet so I have no song titles or artist names to give. This is unfortunate, but I still have a lot to talk about. I went on the BACES trip this spring break to do service in the Dominican Republic. As opposed to what most Bucknell students might picture of the DR, we spent the week in the slums of Santo Domingo and the impoverished countryside. It was one of the best experiences of my life, and the best way I could have imagined spending my spring break. We spent our days doing heavy construction, farm labor, and connecting with the people. Besides my lacking Spanish language skills, one constant throughout the week was music.

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Music played everywhere we went. In the compound we stayed at, an old baseball academy, local musicians came and performed some of the folk songs of the DR. On the bus we took on our few trips to places in the countryside, the radio was constantly blaring. The radio stations included American pop music and classic Latino guitar. While we helped doing construction, a radio in the house over played beautiful Spanish country music. It was a feeling of connectedness; replace the language and scenery and this could have been a community anywhere in the world.

Besides just music, dancing is another huge part of life in the Republica Domincana. When the musicians came to our compound, the district leaders (sort of the local town council the part of Santo Domingo we were staying in) came as well. By about three songs in, they were all dancing with their wives. Soon all of the students (20 of us Bucknellians went on the trip) were on our feet too. We learned a local dance to the beautiful salsa music. Salsa music seems to be just meant for dancing. The music had a very Mexican feel. Guitars and trumpets are the instruments of choice for the best salsa music.

Even though it is not an example at all of what I am talking about, here is A$AP Rocky’s Wild for the Night. It was filmed in Santo Domingo (some pretty rough parts apparently) and gives an idea of what the slums are like. Take out all the dramatizations of A$AP and picture it not as bad as they make it. That’s where I was!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1eWdbMBYlH4

Shameless plug: If you’re interested in going on the trip next year, you should definitely apply! The trip is called BACES and it is Bucknell’s chapter of an organization called ACES run out of Williamsport. We partake in a lot of fundraising over the year then go down and do a lot of service. You will get a ton out of it and go on an adventure while helping people at the same time!