Saturday, December 16, 2017

To Salsa Is To love

Tiny Pirate Lifestyle Cabarete Salsa 1If you could live your life again what would you do? Would you do what you are doing now? Or would you change direction, be more daring, wild, or the total opposite? ***
Whilst I’ve been supremely fortunate to make a career out of the things I love, in my next life I would like to be a dancer. My friends and partners have always known this and indulged my psychotic moves across the years, and as I age (as I am unlikely to mature), I’m certain that I will be the embarrassing granny busting out my best shapes on the dancefloor, trying not to crack a hip.


Some of my first memories are all about dancing, watching as uncles and aunties sashayed along to music blasting out from the radio, usually at Christmas or someone’s birthday. On special occasions a collection of ‘musicians’ -a ragtag group of friends of one of my uncles - would appear and play tinny keyboards, twanging guitars and various home made instruments such as spoons and bottles filled with varying amounts of water. They would sing and lament tales of love and woe, slamming back aguardiente and getting more loud and raucous until my grandmother would return unexpectedly from the Capital, sending everyone flying out with broomsticks and curses until the next time. She thought the musicians were degenerates who would corrupt us all. I loved those days, watching the carnage unfold hiding behind doors, or my brother and mine’s secret spot at the top of the stairs.

Lifestyle Cabarete Tiny Pirate 2Lifestyle Cabarete Tiny Pirate

When we were abit older it was just a natural progression to Salsa. It’s a Latin thing. We have no money therefore we dance and make jolly because those things are free, but more importantly, they are mind alteringly FUN. The beat is part of your blood, and when you are a teenager and in the first rush of hormonal excitement, this is the time to use your moves as a means to touch a member of the opposite sex.

Sadly for me, by the time I was 10 I had moved to London. At my first school disco I clumsily tried to make a couple of boys, then a girl, dance with me. I couldn’t speak English and no-one spoke Spanish, so my attempts to drag them to the dancefloor were met with horrified looks. Brits were less tactile and influenced by international culture then, their frozen reserve was not something anyone should try and penetrate. I became a social pariah. Even more so because I ended up dancing by myself, however I didn’t now how to dance alone and my arms became floppy and out of control tentacles. I still cringe when I think of my arms flailing around, like a fish fighting for breath as kids around me pointed and laughed. Argh.

By the time I was 15 I flagged myself a job as a dancer at the Hammersmith Palais, for a fortune of £60 per night. Fridays and Saturdays over a few weeks I would wear all in one catsuit and – basically- hooker shoes, and strut my stuff around in a cage or podium, massive hair and boobs taking anyone out within distance of my splits. I thought I was all that and a bag of chips, but the reality was that my buxom and tiny frame probably looked like a sausage stuffed into a too-tight pigskin. **shudder**

One Monday morning I was summoned to the headmaster’s office before my teacher even took registration. I wasn’t bothered, this was certainly not the first time I would have had to endure yet another disciplinary for something. I walked in to find my mum, a policeman, one of my teachers and the headmaster all glaring at me. My first instinct was that something terrible had happened. And it had. Unbeknown to me, my teacher was out with friends and had seen me gyrating like a madwoman at the club on the Saturday night. He apparently watched me for ages to make sure it was me, and wasn’t sure what he should do. So between Saturday and Monday morning the headmaster, the police and my mum had been summoned.

My poor mum had thought I was sleeping over at friends’ homes, so she was mortified of my whereabouts. The club almost lost its license, the only saving grace for them was that in my job application it was there in black and white that I had lied about my age. And there was no way for them to know otherwise. I was given a warning from the police (quite frankly the fashion police should have been called but that’s another story!) and I was grounded forever. But I would bypass that by jumping out of the 2nd floor window and shinning down the drainpipe, coming back up just before sunrise. But that’s also another story…

Lifestyle Cabarete Tiny Pirate Lifestyle 4Lifestyle Cabarete Tiony Pirate Salsa 5

So dancing, for me, has always been something that I would have loved to have done at a professional level. In my fantasy world my body would have been tall, taught and athletic, and my moves something that would hypnotise and mezmerise all who gazed at me. But alas, this was not to be so I’ve just danced for pleasure, and on one occasion, used dancing as a means to raise my airfare home via the means of performing in an exotic club. I’ve written about this on a previous blog post so if you want the skinny- go read!

Desperate Acts of Dilinquency

Whilst visiting Auckland, a friend invited me to a Salsa club, which of course I immediately said yes to. I hadn’t been or listened to the infectious music for over a month and I was getting withdrawals. The event was a regular Wednesday night shindig, held at a bar/restaurant in the hipster part of town. As soon as we walked in, the music and heat hit me full in the face, and I watched as people from every nationality grooved to the sexy beats.

My bubble was burst as soon as my friend introduced me to the promoter/DJ and teacher of the event. She told him I was from Colombia so he was super excited to take me for a spin, as everyone knows Colombians make the best dancers in the world. (This is a FACT. If you don’t believe me check the current world champions out!)

Within 30 seconds he sniffily told me that I should “come and learn at one of his classes.” Which, of course he was right to say, however my Latin pride made me start making voodoo dolls out of him in my brain, and put me in a defensive mood.

Brain: “ What the hell do Peruvians know about salsa anyway? And specially at the bottom of the world where it’s so bloody cold? I’m going to show HIM..i’m going to just sit here and be mysterious and moody and not dance and get all up myself by my birthright of being Colombian.”

Yeah, that. Because of course behaving like a brat always provides the best results huh? How can I, at my age, still revert to moody teenage mode?? Bleugh.

Tiny Pirate Caribbean Salsa Love

I sat there with my hormonal tantrum raging through my veins. The room was too lit up, people were counting steps and going through the motions, where was the clothes-ripping sexiness, how can ANYONE who isn’t Latin remotely feel the passion. I bored myself with my brattishnes, until it was impossible to ignore the music. Anja kept introducing me to her friends as Colombian, so the novelty of dancing with me (I thought) was cute. Until they had to suffer me stomping on their feet with my heavy travel boots.

And the more I observed, the more I learned. Yes, the passion was there, not necessarily in the crazy Latin way I’m accustomed to, but in the way that it kept this little buzzing scene alive each week with individuals whose faces showed the joy they were experiencing. There were around one hundred people from all over the world, in one of the most southern cities on the planet, sharing something beautifully intimate and connecting through music and culture in a way that, if this was a global mandatory practice, would stop wars and make people love eachother more. Seriously.

I danced with Peruvians (not the teacher!!), Kiwis, Samoans, Germans. I watched a super hot Middle Eastern and Austrian couple, totally lost in their movements throw sparks up into the atmosphere. I was transfixed by the delicate interpretations of the music from doll-like Korean and Japanese girls, and I felt equal pangs of pride and jealousy as I watched Anja and her friends perform technically perfect steps which have inspired me to have lessons. I met a Kiwi couple who are fundraising to go to the world championships. And in spite of not having a cat’s hell chance against the mighty Colombians (sorry!), they have already WON because they are doing the thing they LOVE and that is ALL that counts. I will be cheering them on ( after the Colombians of course!) 

Lifestyle Cabarete Tiny Pirate SalsaLifestyle Cabarete Tiny Pirate salsa 7

Just like life, You CANNOT have a good dance with someone if here is no connection, and each and every time I go somewhere I try my hardest to stick to new people and new places. I learn something and hope that in some way it will make me more understanding and a better person. A good life, like dancing, is about those good connections…and in the same way, if we just go through life counting steps and going through the motions without feeling what we are doing, then half of what we could be enjoying will be lost.

Hot Colombian songtress Shakira named one of her songs ‘Hips don’t lie’ for a reason! The moment you feel like you’re passionately dancing through work, life, relationships…that is when you know you have found the best partner, the best place, or the best moment. And I wish all of those for you…

Toodle pip and shake your booties until the next time!

x <3

*** By the way if you answered YES to this, then do something about it NOW…it’s never too late! That only becomes an issue when you are six feet under or toast.



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