Once upon a time, before I was in charge at the church nursery, before I got married and had a kid, and before I turned 30, I was a salsa dancer. I don’t miss it actually, but I do miss the music. Nothing can warm up a cold night like that cowbell behind all the latin rhythms.
Now you might say to yourself, “Salsa dancing is a skanky scene, yo!” And you would be right. I learned many things about the salsa scene in Portland, like where I could dance seven nights a week, where were the meat markets, where was free, where had the best music and where was a place I could dance with a man my height who wasn’t either going to try to berate me or grab my assets.
I learned that in order to be able to afford my addiction (because this is precisely what it transmogrified into, in a mild sense), I could only drink one glass of wine and I had to dress to the nines to get in the door for free and to get asked to dance and maximize the time limit I set for myself, which was usually an hour to an hour and a half from the time I walked in the door.
I learned how to walk off the floor if my partner chose to be less than classy, and rescue my friends when I saw they weren’t having fun on account of a less than classy partner.
I wasn’t a great dancer. There were always those who had more fluidity, more ability to improvise in a gorgeous way, and somehow looked good no matter who they danced with. I was a good follow, if my partner was good, we were great. If my partner relied on me to do more than follow, well, I was still learning how to look good doing that.
I maintained salsa dancing despite the eyebrows it raised and the friends I lost (because all I wanted to do ever was salsa dance and a night doing anything else seemed like a waste) because I never have found anything to warm the blood like salsa dancing.
If your home needs some warmth, some heat and liveliness, go get yourself a salsa cd, light some candles and pour a glass of wine. Crank those hot rhythms up. And then give in the the urge to tap the feet. Find the rhythm, because that is the very first step in dancing salsa–finding the cowbell rhythm.
And here’s to all my good partners, and a smackdown to all the losers (one guy told me he could dance with me but he would have to charge me 25 an hour because this is what he charges his students!)
I don’t miss the skanky scene, I miss the beats. Now my job is to teach A how to do this. She is precocious, it seems to run in the blood. I love it when she starts dancing when she hears music in public. It’s one of the few times I know I have done something right.
In the pic, I am the one on the left.