Luke Melia


August 14, 2002

Mambo, cha-cha-cha

After triumphing in Staten Island, we went off to prepare for the city-wide competition the next day. I put hydrogen peroxide on my knees, which I had torn up on the stuff that passes for sand at South Beach Park, Staten Island. I washed off the day’s sweat and dirt and went off to celebrate Judy’s birthday, as well as Jeanhee’s mom’s.

The next day, I rode the F train out to Coney Island, munching on a cinnamon raisin bagel and contemplating the early morning scene I’d just witnessed in a 7th Avenue bagel shop. A woman crossed the threshold into the shop, and stuck up her middle finger at a seated man. Then she proceeded to join him at his table. A bit, later a man at a nearby table asked the pair if they were also going to camp. All were middle-aged.

Once at the beach, registered, smeared with sunblock, reunited with the team, hellos said to friends, stripped to shorts, and warming up, we looked across the net at our opponents for the match that would begin pool play. The first thing I noticed was the crop top tank top worn by one of the players. The second was the quite tight short shorts on the same player. The third was that they were all men.

The first two observations stopped me briefly, but the third gave me greater pause. This was, after all, a co-ed quads division. The guy that was refereeing the first game went off to consult the tournament organizers while both teams warmed up. I noticed that the back of each of the other team’s player’s shirts said “MAMBO” with the A made by a pink ribbon. Soon the ref came back and reported that the rules had been changed to at the last minute to make our division any-gender with no co-ed requirement. The rule change had come too late to announce, apparently.

What the hell, I figured. It was a free tournament, after all. Play began. Team Mambo spoke to each other in fast, lispy Spanish. I called it “Lispanol.” Mambo scored the first point. After the point, they moved to the middle of the court, put their hands together and raised them to the sky, yelling, “Maaaammm-bo! Cha-cha-cha!”

Team Mambo took psychological and competitive control of the game and kicked our heterosexual asses by a score of something like 15-2. Thankfully, they reserved their meaner cheers for some obnoxious opponents… “Dumb bitch, dumb bitch.” Their captain saved his costume change for later, too. The quite tight short shorts were ditched in favor of a pair of clear plastic trunks worn over his bright orange thong.

I don’t remember beach volleyball being quite like this. We were outclassed all day and didn’t win a game, though we played hard. We were the only team in our pool with two women — in fact, many of the other teams relegated their female player to a middle back position and still stole balls from her.

A day on the beach can’t be beat, though. Especially when the tournament is free, you can ride the Wonder Wheel after, and you’re among friends and flaming Latino volleyball players.

Mambo! Cha cha cha.

4 Responses to “Mambo, cha-cha-cha”

  1. rich chimed in:


    a post like that makes me want to blog.

  2. debasis biswas chimed in:

    hi mamboo ch cha cha

  3. debasis biswas chimed in:

    i am ready fo make friend with u pls

  4. debasis biswas chimed in:

    r u not making me a friend

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