Chevere means cool in Spanish. Que Chevere!, how awesome, how great.
While staying at my friend’s house I discovered a record player on the Lanai in the scrumptious back yard. Generously sized and full of fruit trees, I put Stevie on while chilling and picking up ripe apricots that had fallen onto the ground. Stevie Wonder knew about Chevere back in ’73 and says in the intro to “Don’t you worry about a thing” on his album, Innervisons. He asserts to listeners that he “speaks very very fluent Spanish”.
It was 1973 when Innervisions was released. I was one year old. He was part of introducing Latin sound into contemporary music, along with bands like Santana.
I remember when I first learned the word Chevere. I was living in Seattle, pretty new to speaking Spanish and dating. I met Edward (not his real name). He was Cuban-American and was more emotive and analytical then l expected. He had grown up in Florida, was an actor, talked about yoga and seemed to over process his feelings. He still could get quite passionate and we had some steamy moments.
He told me about his favorite Cuban singer, a Miami Cuban named Albita. She performed in one of the few mainstream movies that includes Cuba, called Dance with Me starring Vanessa Williams. It isn’t my favorite dance movie but it is on my list. During the scene where she sings, they dance Casino Rueda—Cuban Salsa that is done in a circular pattern and a style I was learning around the same time.
What I like most about Casino Rueda is the inclusive communal aspect of it. The caller gives out calls for specific moves or sequences and the followers move from partner to partner around the circle. Sometimes the leads have to criss-cross across the circle and boy you better hope you are on the beat. You end up dancing with everyone and no one is left out. The rhythm of Cuban salsa is perfect for flowing in and out of a circle.
Albita’s biggest hit is “El Chico Chevere” and it is a good song. ♫ El es un chico chevere, chevere, chevere ♫. Translation: What a great guy….
And that is how I know the word Chevere.