Leather bottom shoes, khaki colored Dockers and a black short sleeve pullover shirt. Yep, it’s dance night. For the first time in merely 4 years it was time to dance. Four years since my feet had hit the hard wood floor. Salsa. It could have been anything as long as couples were dancing together. So many rhythms, so many basic steps, but tonight it was salsa. It was the only dance hall reasonably close enough to walk to. I still didn’t have a car. The weather was nice enough now but in a couple of hours the early spring chill would still require a winter coat, which I vainly lefty behind. I was to be dancing and not sitting. I will mix, I will ask, I will dance.
As I walked into the club my eyes emblazed with all the reflected light exploding from everywhere that seemed to be from the speakers. Strobes, neon’s, and tremors. The floors tremored and the walls shook. Hard wood floors pushed back in reaction to the bombardment of sound waves against the solid surface. Beat after melodiously spicy beat traveled in waves through the floor and eventually to my joints. It was 9pm, the doors just opened and I was the first to arrive. My left leg began to tremor uncontrollably. My senses were on overload. I had intended to just drink water as is my custom when out to dance but the bucking and giving way of my knees in response to the tremors of sound exploding out of the speakers signaled that some sort of sedative was in order.
The barback looked up, annoyed that I should actually show up on time, faked a smile and said “This bar isn’t open” I raised my eye brow “They haven’t brought the cash drawer yet but they’re open at the one by the DJ booth. They always get their drawer early.” I nodded as I wouldn’t be heard over clanking beer bottles that vibrating against each other in reaction to the tremors from both the floor and even the air itself. This was common place for a salsa bar. The salsa crowd typically shows late, 1030/11 ish. I knew in my enthusiasm that I would be early but it still irked me that people would wait so late to start the fun. It seemed a waste to cut short the night before it began.
I was determined to drink it in every vibration, every movement, every knocking knee, “Great ‘ I thought “not one of those nights” Those nights were that, although I love to dance, mountain of emotional insecurity that I sometimes had to scale would hinder my ability to simply ask someone to dance. My insecurities would hold me captive as I watched and pouted in jealousy and self doubt. “Coors Light” I announced to the bartender. I was returned the look of “Geek”… “Medicinal purposes” I said
In no way was I going to pay 600 for a bitter tasting import just to calm my nerves. I wasn’t here to impress the bartenders, I was here to dance. Like all dancer I did wont to impress other dancers not just with technical skill but also with originality. “ Oh, I’ve never done that move before can we do it again?”
“ I don’t know… I just made it up” Even if I couldn’t replicate something that I made up I always scored points with the other dancers for originality with the better dancers. While dancers love dance sometimes they get bored with the same routines and patterns so originality could always increase a guys clout among the hot shots. Scoring points with the better dancer would increase a guys reputation in the dance hall. The better your reputation the easier it was to get dances. The easier it was to get dances the better my confidence was and the more I would ask people to dance and the more I would dance which is what I wanted in the first place.
Im the guy who wants to be on the floor every song. More than willing to soak my shirt in sweat as I immersed myself in the rhythmically scattered movement of the crowd. In times past I would have brought multiple shirts. Saving my dance partners later in the evening from the slimy result of the exercise I enjoyed earlier in the evening. I imagine it is not to fun locking up in dance frame with a slimy, slippery over exuberant eel.
But not tonight. Tonight I only had one shirt in my wardrobe that was appropriate for and evening out dancing. Unlike swing, or country, salsa dancers dress up more stylishly sassy and sexy. (to be continued)