I learned about L.U.S.T. in Haiti.
The League of Underground-Spies and Terrorists, that is.
At the time, I had no thought of becoming a spy. I was on, vacation and enjoying myself as I did not do at home, with the voodoo drums throbbing in the warm night air lying heavy on the slopes of Morne à Cabrits, a sea wind off the gulf bringing with it the languid scent of jasmine.
I was watching a naked girl dance la cumbia.
La cumbia is a voodoo dance, wild and erotic.
Her dance was getting to my date, George Norman, a fellow American vacationer, in Port Au Prince. The rhythms of the rada drums, those cylinders of wood and hide consecrated to the gods on banana leaves, before lighted candles and with votive offerings of food and drink, the eerie sounds of the lambi conch shells, the chanting of the mambo priestesses, were all around us. The clatter of the organ bells, the sight of the pretty mulatto dancer shimmying ecstatically so that her breasts shook like bowls of café au lait jelly, were filling George with a magic all his own.
His arms were tight about my middle, his eyes were fastened on the loins of the dancer his body was firm against my buttocks, His breathing was uneven.
“My, my,” he kept saying.
The mulatto girl was quivering from her knees tip to her shoulders, Her eyes were wide, staring. At her feet, the six votive candles blazed with a brightness oddly appropriate in the otherwise dark jungle-night. Her feet stamped, her heavy thighs shook, her soft buttocks jiggled as she moved between the waxen tapers, uttering soft cries.
La cumbia is a dance of passion. Just as the corybantes, those priestesses of Cybele worshiped the goddess in Sumer and in Babylon with their extravagant posturings, so this young woman was adoring the life force that is in every man and woman. Her body was tuning itself to the vibrations of her gods, and because of her efforts, was glistening with sweat.
Her dance was akin to the fertility rites of the ancient religions, where the women worshiped the life principle itself, giving themselves to the embraces of strange men for the greater glory of a goddess like Mylitta. In la cumbia, there are no patterned steps, it is an individual offering by the dancer by which she hopes to free her spirit, offering it to the god, and through the god, to her loved one. The blazing candles symbolize the sun, the first life force which brings ripeness to the crops and warmth to animal life.
On spraddled legs the girl was moving above the clustered candles. Her head was thrown back, her shoulders barely moved yet her heavy breasts were leaping wildly. It was a stance by which the god was said to enter into the body of his priestess, but it was also a pose which was designed to rouse the primal lusts of the onlookers.
It was rousing George, all right.