A couple of months before I left to Havana, I took up salsa lessons. I went every week, sometimes twice, even in poor health without fail. Like a kid who hadn’t yet realized the game theory of life, nothing could stop my eagerness to excel in class. I progressed from of a few years of hanging out on the dance floor sidelines to the actual dance floor and 1-2-3, 5-6-7’d my way up to advanced classes.
“OMG I’m finally going to be a dancer “, said the girl who put a lid on all her issues with personal space.
I’ve never questioned my acquired “talent” until I loitered around Hotel Florida’s salsa scene.
It didn’t just confirm that salsa was not in my nature, it wiped out all that I had learnt. POOF. Salsa WHAaaa? For a few nights in a row, I witnessed the most incredible upper and lower body shimmies as my self consciousness grew considerably. Rather than my put skills to use, my body turned stiffer, my stomach crunched and my eyeballs dried up. You think standard spins and swinging? NO, it was some Afro-Cuban kinda magic that just blew me away, and…k.i.l.l.e.d my inner dancer.
I was lost in the real salsa experience. Its complexity was so artistic. Beats, once used to call various Gods in Africa, were played to bring people together and create La Rueda De Casino, a dance craze I can’t get over how I’m never going to be a part of any time soon. And so they danced in their own language with a list of endless vocab and gestures. I put so much effort in the classroom and learned jack about the essence of salsa, first and foremost, an innate sense of Afro Cuban rhythm which obviously did not come naturally to me. If you can’t beat them, don’t join them.
I may have stretched my imagination a little too far, but for now, I’d rather hold back my dalliance with salsa dancing and sit on the bench. You may wonder what what fool gives up on salsa after visiting Son Cubano’s birthplace?
I am ashamed.