I seriously, desperately miss it.
After years of going to Latin clubs in the U.S. with my mom and not being able to dance with anyone because I didn’t know how to dance Salsa, Merengue or Bachata, my best friend and I decided to take Salsa lessons. I was a little nervous before the first class. Not because I thought I wouldn’t be able to learn, I KNEW I would be able to learn, but because I thought, are they going to be like “What are YOU doing here?” because I was not Latina? Or maybe nobody would partner with me because I am so tall.
My fears turned out to be unfounded, and actually, a little ridiculous. The first class started without so much as a word from Lisa “La Boriqua” the teacher and as it turns out, owner of the dance studio, Latin Street Dancing. She made sure to tell us that when we did finally partner with other students in the class we would change partners often and that everyone would dance with everyone. Oh yeah, and nobody gave a rip that I wasn’t Latina. Lisa also informed us that if you are a good dancer you can dance with ANYONE…anyone short, tall, fat, thin, old, or young. Right then I knew that I was going to like this place.
And oh did I like it! I LOVED it. I took lessons, filled in during other classes (they always made sure that every class had an equal number of women and men so that people weren’t left out while practicing new moves…awesome), went to salsa events throughout the city (even on “school nights”) and practiced complicated steps in the bathroom at work. Sometimes my feet really hurt but I didn’t care. I LOVED it.
When I moved to Cancun, I knew the hardest thing to leave behind (after family and friends of course) would be Latin Street Dancing. Luckily, I met another Salsera in the weeks after I arrived in Cancun who happened to live in my building, and we went dancing A LOT, sometimes 3 or 4 times a week. And as I have also mentioned before, I also ended-up giving basic Salsa classes in El Shrimp Bucket to tour groups. I would give them a basic lesson and then they would participate in a contest. It was a so much fun and a dream come true! Suddenly I was one of the hosts with the microphones who I had been seeing for years in places like Señor Frogs. I even had my own button that said, “Nikita, Salsa Instructor”.
I met my husband in a Salsa club, Azucar. He is a good dancer, but a native dancer, meaning he dances Salsa in the authentic Cuban street style. It’s not even called Salsa. It’s fun, and I have since learned this Cuban style, but my first love is the Puerto Rican style that I learned in Chicago.
The problem I have now is that every Salsa night or Salsa club in these parts gets started at 12am. UGH. I am almost always asleep by 10pm since mi bebe is up by 6am. So let’s see, if I get to bed at 3-4am like I used to…that would be how many hours sleep? You do the math. This mommy would never be able to function the next day.
There used to be a place here that had live Salsa (and Cuban food, yum) on Sunday afternoons, and we went quite often, but of course, like most good things here, including my beloved Azucar, it has closed.
Recently I have been desperate to dance again on a regular basis. I have heard for years that on Sundays in a park downtown they have a “Salsa party” in the afternoon. Maybe I’ll stroll over there one Sunday with el niño and see what it’s like.
And if it’s crappy, well I have made a promise to myself…I will dance regularly again…someday.