I do this thing. Technically, it’s called “salsa.” It involves another person. People get very excited when I mention it. They sometimes assume that I grind against short Latino men while wearing a Vegas stripper costume. (That was only the first year.)
But the way I do this Thing Called Salsa doesn’t really match the associations generally attributed to “Salsa Dancing.” I often show up wearing whatever I wore during the day, jeans and a shirt. I often forget to put on make up or fix my hair. I don’t really want anyone to notice me. I don’t want guys asking me to dance. I know who I want to dance with and for everyone else I put out Don’t Ask Me To Dance Vibes. Many guys don’t care that I don’t want to dance with them and that’s cool. But sometimes guys will creep up on you and feel out the energy and even if I say, “Hi!” they know not to ask me to dance. It’s very Jedi. I learned through salsa that verbal communication means nothing.
But I’m polite, nice and even affectionate with people in the community. Because they’ve seen me for seven years, come and go through unemployment and heartbreak.
Once I’ve put on my shoes, which are now sufficiently trashed. I scan the club/venue for partners I want to dance with. This is a very small number. Like maybe three. I dance on 2. I’m a “Salsa Snob.” I criticize the music that I don’t like. I stand around and chat and say Hello to everyone. I avoid eye contact with the super weirdos, but even then I recognize that they are all children of salsa…people just needing a place to go.
I go salsa dancing for a completely different reason than most of the people in the room. I go to get a fix. I can’t dance with any ole person to get it or any old song. I need classic mambo and a guy who can dance on 2. Ideally, he’s an old dance partner or a friend. And then it’s four or five minutes of heaven. I’m done. Good-night everyone! Where are you going? I’m done.
It occurred to me that not everyone does this in their life. And so I feel very lucky.
Just for today, I dance salsa.