As part of Headliners at WOMADelaide, star junior reporter Niamh Trainor had a chat with Mexican music makers Las Cafeteras.

Singer Denise Carlos loves being part of Las Cafeteras and has been a performer most of her life.

“I started dancing Mexican folk dance when I was fifteen. But it’s very different from this. It’s a lot of standing, but has a lot of big dresses. Big dresses with ribbons and braids!” she laughs. “My mum used to dance back when she was in Mexico, and she makes me all her dresses, so yeah that’s cool! I love it. I’m 37 now, so that’s a lot of dresses! But I’ve practically been dancing all of my life. You can start any time! You can start anything when you need to.”

As well as dancing, Denise also plays music through instruments and vocally.

I play the jarana, which is kind of like a ukulele. It’s a small guitar from Mexico. The stompbox that you see is an instrument too. So my feet are part of the instrument, and then my voice. My body’s an instrument,” she says.

Working as a touring artist, Denise has an opportunity to use her language skills as she is multilingual.

I speak Spanish, English and Spanglish,” she says. “Spanglish is my language. I mix English and Spanish. My first language was Spanish, and then when I started school, my sister taught me English, but then I forgot my Spanish, because it was the only thing I spoke at the time, and now I speak Spanglish, because I can’t figure it out!”

Las Cafeteras played at WOMADelaide in 2019 to an appreciative crowd and we hope to see them again sometime.

Words and photo by Niamh Trainor