Flatmate Friday – Jancey
I know it’s Sunday. I know. You have no idea how much I regret naming this segment Flatmate Friday and not Flatmate Fun, or Flat-Chat or Flatmate-whatever-day-of-the-week-I-bloody-well-want…. Ah, the crosses we bear…
Anyway, I was super-excited to finally get to chat to Jancey this week. He has so much to say that is interesting, and it has been awesome to live with him this semester. It’s going to break my heart when our lovely Americans leave on Monday!
Dancing, Real talk and Beyonce with Jancey Taveras
PV: Hello Jancey, I am so happy that I am finally getting to talk to you because you are such a busy man! Let’s start off with some introductory questions; Where do you normally live and what are you doing in London?
Jancey: So, I was born and raised in New Jersey and I currently live in New Jersey, that’s my permanent home. I also live in New York, but not New York City, I live in New York State because I go to school at Cornell University. In the United States, back home, you go abroad in the spring semester of your third year but I decided to go in the fall semester of my senior year because I was very busy during my third year. I wanted to do a semester here in London because I didn’t want to feel regret after I graduated. I used this as a platform to not only come here and meet other cultures and stuff like that but also to visit Europe at large.
PV: I’m glad you did! Where are your family originally from?
Jancey: My family is from the Dominican Republic, I am predominantly Dominican, however My Mum’s ancestor’s are Filipino and supposedly we are also Spanish – from Spain [laughs]
PV: You were born and raised in America but with such a rich Dominican background, do you feel like an American or a Dominican?
Jancey: I’m going to start my answer by saying that I’m not a person that really likes labels, I only use them when I need to, such as now. [laughs] I only feel American when, for example being here, people point out that I’m American because of the way I speak.
PV: I think “You’re American!” was the first thing Rob said to you. [laughs]
Jancey: Exactly! [laughs] but then, back home, I guess it’s based on the circumstance and where you are because back home when I’m with my family I feel like I’m Dominican, we speak Spanish and I’m just with my family. Then when I’m at school I feel like a student, I don’t feel like I’m American or anything like that. I don’t know, it’s a very hard topic to talk about because I’m not always consciously thinking about which nationality I feel like.
PV: You obviously have a really diverse background and that’s a great thing to grow up with. Is there something which made your childhood different from a traditional all-American upbringing?
Jancey: Dancing. Dancing is something that is very very very close to Dominican Culture. When I look at my friends back at school I notice that they’re not very comfortable with their bodies, and part of the Dominican culture is being comfortable with your body. Being comfortable with not only dancing and making sure that you can move your body in certain ways, but being comfortable – I guess it all comes down to sexuality – being comfortable with dancing and also dancing in a sexual way. I’ve noticed my friends, some of which are Caucasian, are not very comfortable with their bodies, when you see them dancing it’s just very awkward [laughs] they’re not … even when I go to a club and I’m with my friends you can tell that they aren’t empowered by their bodies because they’re always in a circle, always around people, not wanting to stand out. Being Dominican is not all about standing out, trying to be that person that gets all the attention, it’s about being empowered by the moves that your body can do, and being sensual, and owning that.
PV: Did you dance a lot when you were a kid?
A lot! A lot [laughs], like all the time. There was music in my house all the time. My sister loved listening to music, she was always dancing in the living room, and my Mum always – she’s a singer – and she’s always singing, and my Uncle’s always singing and dancing and stuff like that so it’s very part of my family.
PV: That’s awesome! And at the moment, who is your biggest music crush or obsession?
Jancey: I don’t really get obsessed with artists, I don’t believe in getting star struck and all that stuff. What I do admire is artists for their art, and that person has to be, currently, Beyoncé. Yesterday she released her visual album, which she did not announce previously, and that to me is beautiful. I just really admire her because she changed the game and brought out her new album in a very unconventional way. But it’s not just about the delivery, it’s about the content, the music that she has inside that album. At face value it looks like her being sexual and all these euphemisms, stuff like that, but I think what she’s doing is nullifying stereotypes with respect to women, and I think that’s beautiful, because she’s making a statement which is so complex. I love her.
PV: That is a very ‘Jancey’ thing to say! We do joke that you are the wise one in the flat! But you are very spiritual, and you always have something true to say….. where does that come from?
Jancey: I’d like to say that the reason I am like that is because I know pain, I have known pain, I have known fear in my life, and living that way, living in those circumstances has pushed me, sometimes in ways that I wish never happened, to accept those dark places in life. That is part of the reason why I behave a certain way or why I tend to be spiritual – because I had to in order to really understand my life and understand myself.
PV: One of the things which I will always remember you saying to me is “let’s talk real talk”, can you tell us a bit more about your idea of ‘real talk’?
So, part of the reason why I’m very quiet is – well a lot of reasons – sometimes I tend to be very introverted, but the other reason why I don’t talk sometimes is because I don’t want to talk about bulls**t! [laughs] I really don’t, I don’t find it interesting! I like listening to it sometimes, otherwise I would go crazy [laughs], but if I have nothing to say I won’t say it.
I have noticed that in our generation, we talk a lot of bulls**t, and, I love the phrase ‘ain’t nobody got time for that’. So when I told you ‘let’s talk about real things’, it’s because I really like talking about things that aren’t said, when we’re just talking like ‘how was your day?’ we’re not talking about the things that are really bothering us, like ‘oh I’m really scared today, because, of this thought in my head’ or, I don’t know, all the crazy things that we as humans experience.
That’s why I like ‘real talk’ – let’s talk about the things which are really happening inside of our hearts and minds, instead of the things that we are always talking about because they’re the only things we know how to talk about.
PV: I think it’s so valuable if you can talk to your friend’s like that. I like that philosophy!
Okay, so seeing as it is nearly Christmas and the last flatmate Friday of the year (argh!)let’s talk about Christmas. What are you going to be doing this year?
Jancey: So, I’m going to be doing the very things which I have told you about: talking real talk, dancing and being with my family. The other thing that I’m really going to do is Love…. Not in that way! [laughs] but the reason why I love my family is because we really value love. When we are in a Christmas environment we are able to express that through talking, dancing, stuff like that, and obviously exchanging gifts. I’m definitely going to be eating food too! I miss the way my Mum cooks, I just love my Dominican food. I get to be with my friends and hopefully get some gifts… because let’s be real, we all like gifts!
Jancey, I will miss you so much! The December blog series continues for the rest of this month and Flatmate-whatever-day-of-the-week-I-bloody-well-want will return in the new year 😉