Oh yes, oh yes. How happy I am to have my Friday nights free again. I didn’t think I’d see them again. It’s just that, since the turn of year, Pamela and I have been attending salsa classes at Sabor Cubano, a famous salsa bar in Tegucigalpa. It is actually one of my favourite bars in the city. While in my four years here I’ve seen various places come and go for whatever reason, Sabor Cubano has not only survived, but it has kept getting better.
Before I go any further, I insist that you press this link or listen to salsa in the background to give you a funnier experience reading about our shortlived adventure into salsa. http://m.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL33319542796A5E4B
Pamela heard of a deal and a great idea to start salsa classes. I was skeptical, as I’d had tasters of salsa and I found irritating. However, I thought it deserved a second chance and I liked the idea of dancing at our wedding and on our honeymoon in Cuba (that’s how Pamela persuaded me). The dance looks kind of cool (though tango is still much better). So yes.
The people who organised the classes is from a group called Salsa Honduras, who have won various prizes throughout Latin America. So we started all enthusiastic. The first week was great. Basic steps. The counting in salsa is slightly dyslexic as you don’t count the four. More so, you just remain stationary on that beat. The guy was a little tough, but we learned quickly. The woman, quite a voluptuous lady, very serious, set the women at their paces. It was quite amusing the women, especially with people passing by outside. The men looked silly and unsure of themselves. The women, however, waved their arms in a way as though they were trying to be seductive, but that was all. The stretches at the start also had me in giggles as we all looked, collectively, positively ridiculous. At the end, we both felt we could do this (if we practiced, and if I’m to be honest, we did very little of that). It was a bit militant, which how I felt before about it, but manageable.
The second week was boot camp. Both teachers had little patience and were throwing new steps at us at a rapid rate that had everyone nervous and not feeling too sure of themselves. They introduced a new step called Suzie Cue (which shares the same name as a pool hall for under aged drinkers in Solihull). It involves weaving your legs in and out of each other and looking like a drunk Messi. You end up dizzy. When we joined partners, we were shown a host of moves that, like many things in Latin America, involved the man being macho and taking the lead. The problem was, the men were having problems understanding the move, never mind taking taking the lead. The woman would screech out, “Si el hombre no indica, la mujer no mueves,” meaning if the man doesn’t indicate, the woman should not move (heartless bitch, we need a helping hand lady!). Us poor blokes were just trying to keep to the beat of incredibly fast salsa songs. This woman made us feel terrified and unmanly. A real testicle cruncher, using men’s hearts like a piñata, and eating their souls for breakfast. We then had to focus on what they were saying over loud music and we were all mixing up our left and right. It seemed that, while being very professional and award winning in this facist dance, they had incredibly high expectations for complete novices. We walked away disheartened. Feeling disheartened on Friday night is wrong. Our bodies were aching like hell, too.
The third week, the male teacher changed. He had more patience, but he tested ours just as much. But she, Señorita Dick Chopper, was still there, making Maggie Thatcher look like Ariel the Little Mermaid. There was some revision on what we had done before, but a few new ones too, like cruce, where we flap your feet over in an almost implausible way. We felt a little bit better, but what I didn’t like was that the woman wanted us to do it at the exact timing as herself, and not all the men were ready to go through with it at that moment. Dancing should be liberal. This dance was created at a time when military dictatorships ruled Latin America. Pinochet was involved in a bit of this, I think. I was also getting pissed off with her with the whole man takes the lead thing. I just wanted to do it in my own time, so did others, and she would get screechy if we didn’t. Paying to be bellowed at on Friday night was not my idea of fun.
The fourth week saw an end to the screechy ball crusher, only to be replaced by a lady who didn’t really seem interested in giving instructions, although her patience was going to far into almost not carinf. She just looked and shrugged, saying we were more or less right, which annoyed Pamela. The dance moves made it impossible to enjoy though. It was just too militant and demanding on my concentration for Friday night. Drinking beer and doing something none taxing is how Fridays should be spent; this was army training.
I spent the next few days trying to work out ways of telling Pamela that I wasn’t enjoying the classes, worrying she might end up like the screechy teacher. I embraced myself for an argument, and I began telling her in her car while she was driving, knowing she wouldn’t take her hands off the wheel nor her eyes off the road. Tactics and timing are crucial when you have to tell a latina some news that might make her angry. Instead, she burst out laughing. “Did you think I didn’t know? I’m going to marry you. I know you better than you know yourself.” She confessed that she wasn’t enjoying the classes either and didn’t really want to return.
I now hate salsa. The music is great. The dancing is, as seductive and graceful as it may look, a dance only psychopaths do. It is not free or romantic as it may look. I recommend that no one tries it out if they are mentally weak in any kind of way. This dance can kill you. However, the time spent with Pamela these last Fridays has been more than worth it.
So there, my adventure into salsa.