In my career as a journalist, I’ve spent time around many celebrities. Every now and again, you run into those who are humble. Gracious. Even sweet. But I will say that it’s very rare that you meet one who possesses all three. Well, I believe I’ve hit the holy grail: Mayte Garcia.
Ever since Prince passed away on April 21, 2016, I’ll admit that – like millions of others – I have been clinging on to memories, videos, interviews that he did that, in my mind, keep him alive. In my journey to revive him, I came across Mayte. The wife who inspired so many songs, danced her ass off (most literally) and encouraged him to open his life and world to fans like myself. Well, there she was on Facebook where I was successfully hoarding all these videos and articles about His Purple Majesty.
Then the most amazing thing happened. Mayte announced that she was coming to Atlanta to host and teach a belly dancing class. Her: the same belly dancer who wooed Prince with her hips before Shakira even knew what a shimmy was. TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY, MAYTE! I signed up for the class so fast and convinced a friend to join me all within 24 hours. No part of the process was a regret.
On June 12th, 2017, I fought an hour and a half of rainy, Atlanta traffic to get to Rhythma Studio, find parking in the rain and walk to the studio in the rain – did I mention it was raining? I got there, signed in and was making moves to settle my nerves by laughing with my friend who beat me there and she said, “go take your picture?” in my confusion, I reply “of what?” She said with a little touch of “are you crazy” in her voice “WITH MAYTE!” For a brief second I said “OH! Where?” “right there” she said pointing. I turn around and there she was. All of her tiny frame, long cascading, California-kissed hair and just … her!
I got my picture and a selfie, then came the shimmy, shake and smile. I’ll admit the smile lasted but OH MY LORD!, that shimmy is a workout I didn’t expect. We warmed up to Prince, shimmied to some beautiful belly dancing music and cooled down to some more Prince. “Pink Cashmere” to be exact. At the end of the class, I wiped my sweat, tried to salvage my shrunken afro (to no avail) and bought a tank-top and DVD. As I said earlier “TAKE ALL OF MY MONEY!” We left there after killing nearly 1,000 calories – let my FitBit tell it – and creating beautiful memories that will last a lifetime.
The next day was the book signing where she read from her New York Times bestseller, “The Most Beautiful: My Life with Prince”, to us like kids getting ready for bedtime, answered questions and shared her most memorable Prince moments. We laughed, cried and became friends all within a matter of 2 hours. I had a blast! After she signed my book, we snapped another pic, reminisced from the belly dancing class the day before, discussed my leg soreness, we laughed and I made my way home. Happy. Smiling. And would you believe it, I’m ready for her next Atlanta visit in July. I think I have a little more shimmy left … she gave me enough smile to last for the next few years.