Sunday, April 09, 2006

Lost in Salsa

This is long. That's just the way it goes.

It seems like a lot of things happened this week, and stuff just keeps unfolding faster than I can take it in. I'll pick up with Thursday, I suppose. Gloria Jones called me about two minutes after I walked in the door Thursday evening. "Hey, Michael, I've got some extra ladies tonight. Have you made any plans?"

Technically, I had just gotten off the phone with an old friend from college who said he would email me some stuff. I was supposed to wait by the computer with bated breath, hoping his email came through the flood of spam, newsletters, Xenite/SF-FANDOM administrative notifications, other personal emails, and the usual odd stuff that strangers elect to send me for reasons I can seldom fathom.

Hm. Spend an evening dancing with Gloria's students in one of her Houston Salsa Classes or sit by the computer waiting on an email. Such difficult choices demand less than a coin toss. I threw my stuff in a corner and said, "I'll be there in five minutes." (Yes, I live close to the dance studio, but that was a fortuitous accident when I picked my current apartment). Blake's email didn't show up until sometime Friday, anyway, so it turned out to be the best choice.

Helping with a dance class is not the easiest thing to do, especially when you've been ill for a couple of months, barely dancing with your friends, and not able to keep up with the curriculum. I spent two hours dancing with Pre-Intermediate and Begiinning Salsa students. The evening was a blur, but there were so many ladies in one class -- and the men (bless their hearts, as Texans like to say) are not yet able to lead -- that they gave me an ovation when the class was over. I kid you not. When I told my friend Geno about the ovation, his B.S. meter went off the scale. He needs to get that thing fixed.

Have I ever mentioned that I was a terrible beginning dancer? I believe I have. It takes a man at least 3-4 months to start to give the ladies some type of lead. I took a private lesson with Gloria every week for two years, and we worked on leads and timing more than anything else. You can pick up the patterns in the classes, but learning to lead is really hard. Half the problem, unfortunately, is that the ladies get so frustrated waiting for the men to lead them that they start leading themselves.

Like many dance teachers, Gloria does not require people to bring partners to her classes. She has everyone rotate so that each student gets a chance to dance with multiple partners. But whenever she is short on ladies or men, she'll ask students from a more advanced class to stay over and help out. If she knows in advance that a class is short one gender, she asks people several days in advance to help. But this week Gloria was just starting a new series of monthly classes and she got caught short a few men.

All that is to say that when an advanced student (and there are several of us who help Gloria with her Beginner and Pre-Intermediate classes on occasion) walks into an early level class, the ladies have absolutely no idea of what to expect. They've become so accustomed to leading themselves, they honestly don't do a good job of following. I usually throw in some extra moves to throw their concentration off. They cannot lead if I won't let them.

Most of the time, that works. Gloria and I have had a few discussions about how I should handle overzealous beginning ladies. On one hand, I have to be careful not to upset her students (and those of you who know something about my Internet history may be surprised to learn that I have only rarely upset any of Gloria's students -- at least to the point where I have heard anything about it). On the other hand, they need to learn how to follow.

Being able to lead gives a man a tremendous advantage in a dance class. He doesn't have to do much to start seeing wide-eyed stares and earn a few admiring looks from the ladies. By the end of a first-week class, it is not unusual (as Gloria breaks the class up and repairs the students after showing the class a new step) for at least one or two girls to start jockeying to become my partner. Does that happen to all the advanced guys who help out? I don't know. I think the ladies all appreciate a good lead. I just don't spend much time watching other advanced students because when you're helping with a class, you have to concentrate on who you're dancing with.

When I was helping regularly, I often danced five nights a week. And I could devote several months to working with several ladies from Beginning Salsa to Intermediate Salsa before they moved on to other interests. Some of them joined our club nights group and became very good social dancers. The ladies that stay with the classes the longest are almost always in demand as dance partners at the clubs. Needless to say, men who stay with the program are always in demand, period.

Friday came and went. I had stuff to do Friday evening so I didn't go out with my friends, but several of them took in a performance at Crystal (Art Williams, The Wandering Salsero, mentioned the Crystal event on his blog). That is actually Art's picture on the front page of Geno's blog (I'm not sure if I've seen Geno's picture on the Web). Art is an interesting guy but I don't think he quite knows what to make of me. And I haven't been as socially engaging lately as I have in the past.

Lan, one of Gloria's advanced students, has been helping Gloria with her classes, too. Lan is gorgeous and nearly all the men I know who know Lan have admitted to secret fantasies about her (to me). Or so it seems. She mentioned the Friday night thing to me but I passed. But then she mentioned a dance group getting together for dinner on Saturday night at Los Andes. Should I mention the restaurant? I guess I will. You'll see why I don't like it shortly.

"Is that an invitation?" I asked Lan. I caught her off guard, because I'm sure she found out I was seeing someone else last year when it seemed like she was interested in a little more than dancing (I'm talking about dinner, you preverts). So, after doing a double-take (in which she literally blinked), Lan said, "Sure. It's an invitation."

Okay, I don't judge books by their covers. I wouldn't have inveigled my way into Lan's dinner plans just because she is stunningly beautiful. I like her and I didn't feel like there would be any unnecesary pressure on either of us if I just asked to join her dinner group.

So, Friday came and went and Saturday morning I went in for Gloria's advanced Salsa class. Lan takes the class and we confirmed the time and place where I should show up. I've never been to Los Andes restaurant. I'd heard about it, knew approximately where it was supposed to be located, but didn't really pay much attention to the fact that I didn't know where the restaurant was.

Well, come noon I had to scoot out the door and take care of some errands. But before I could go very far Gloria stepped beside me and quietly asked if I would stay to help with the next class. For some reason, she has a small advanced class this month, so I wasn't surprised that she asked me to stay.

The Intermediate class was pretty big. In fact, it was one of the larger Intermediate classes I've helped with. Lan was there, and Terri Alcala, but I don't think any other advanced students or teachers stayed. Gloria introduced a routine I barely recognized. Her Intermediate curriculum is almost as varied as her advanced curriculum. She teaches a sequence of about six routines (one routine per monthly class) to prepare the students for advanced Salsa. But every year Gloria varies one of the routines, or replaces one completely. I just haven't been helping out as regularly as I used to, so I had to pick up the steps as Gloria demonstrated them.

So I made a few mistakes throughout the class, but I still surprised the ladies. I guess a lot of them had just moved up from Pre-Intermediate. They were still used to leading themselves, and in glancing at the men in the class I could see that none of them really had the leading part under control. Bless their hearts.

To be honest, it's extremely difficult to take control over an intermediate dancer's routine. These ladies had been dancing and leading themselves in Gloria's classes for at least two months. All of a sudden, here I come insisting I'm going to take them through the steps. And why should they let me? After all, I'm just a man, and men cannot lead.

Asserting a lead in that kind of environment requires a lot of patience and a good sense of humor. With some of the girls, I was able to tease them and joke with them. They started giving me uncertain looks, but by the end of the class they understood that I wasn't trying to show off (and I did do one major step wrong for three partners before I figured out which way Gloria wanted us to turn). I didn't get any ovations, but a couple of the girls came up and thanked me, including (I think) the one I played "peek-a-boo" with.

She was not feeling very comfortable with the routine, and in this step the man turns his partner, holding both her hands at her hips, so that she ends up with one arm behind her back (this is called a "hammerlock position"). After the man puts his partner into a hammerlock, he is supposed to step to one side of her, turn, and then move her back and forth behind him. She is supposed to do a fifth position or cumbia step. In an advanced or private lesson, the teacher would add a little styling motion, and for this kind of move both partners are supposed to look at each other over their shoulders.

So, man steps right and moves the girl to his left, peek-a-boo! He steps left and moves her to his right, peek-a-boo! It's actually a very flirty step and quite popular when you do it right (just about any move where the man puts the girl behind him is popular if he executes it right because it just looks so cool to see that kind of control).

This girl was so self-conscious I knew I had to take her mind off the dancing. So I said, "Play peek-a-boo." She just stared at me like, "Are you CRAZY??" I was fast slipping into perverted weirdo category, I'm sure. So I took her through the move and as she stepped to my left I looked over my shoulder and said, "Peek-a-boo!" She cracked up and immediately understood what I wanted her to do. She started giving me flirty looks (I don't mean she was flirting -- I just mean that this kind of styling is flirty -- but maybe she was flirting).

Taking control over a self-conscious girl who tries to lead herself and stare at the floor at the same time is about the only way to avoid a dancing disaster. It doesn't always work. I once teased a girl too much because she was looking at the floor (this throws your balance off and you cannot do the moves properly). I'm sure she quit the class because of me, although her friends had dragooned her into taking it in the first place. I walked softly and low around Gloria after that, but she is an extremely gracious lady. Angry though she may have been with me, she also knows that sometimes people who are talked into taking a dance class don't come back for any excuse.

There are things you can do in a dance class and things you should not do. I've learned to get away with near-sexual murder on some occasions. It depends on the girl, but sometimes it backfires. I took a chance with the shy girl in Saturday's Intermediate Class and I got away with it. But I think the peek-a-boo game is a safer way to tease a girl into relaxing than some other methods I've tried. They don't all fail, but the riskier tricks are just not worth the potential hard feelings. Besides, when you step into a class you have never seen before, you have no idea of who's boyfriend or husband is in there. The girls may flirt when they are in your arms, but they walk out with Mr. Jealous.

That sort of happened Thursday. A tall Asian girl caught my eye (she is pretty, but a tall Asian girl is so unusual, I would have noticed her anywhere). She didn't pay much attention to me throughout the class so I assumed she was very taken. When she partnered with me during a rotation her face lit up with the sudden realization that I could lead. She was one of the ones who only reluctantly rotated away from me, but I never saw her try to make eye contact again, and when the class ended she walked out with some tall handsome guy.

I don't expect to find any girlfriends in dance classes, although more than a few ladies have indicated some interest. A couple were extremely blatant. One girl brought a date to a club one week and the next week was giving me all the classic "I want you to ask me out" moves. But she smoked cigars and reminded me so much of a girl I fell for in college I was just turned off for too many reasons.

Well, I survived Saturday's Intermediate Salsa and Gloria stepped over again and said, "Would you mind staying for the next class?" By now the clock was ticking. I had to go pick up my shoes at the Houston Shoe Hospital and they don't stay open all day long on Saturday. But I still had a couple hours 'till closing time so I said, "Okay."

Pre-Intermediate Salsa was small and mostly mature, married ladies. There was no flirting with this group, but they were happy to have a man who knew how to lead dancing with them. My only complaint is that turning heavier ladies so many times in a row is hard on my shoulder. I've been in two head-on car accidents (neither my fault) in which my neck and shoulder tendons were ripped (classic whiplash). That is one of the most painful and debilitating injuries you can suffer. You literally cannot lift your arms without agonizing pain shooting through your shoulders. All the therapy and muscle relaxants in the world won't take that away. The last doctor to treat me for that injury said he won't play the disability game but he gave me a permanent medical impairment (meaning, I'm always going to feel pain in my shoulders).

Interestingly, my current doctor says he no longer trusts me. For an unrelated medical condition he just diagnosed (treatable), he said most people with my physical symptoms would be screaming for narcotic painkillers. I have noticed some discomfort on an increasingly frequent basis. I'm just one of those 10 percent of people who has a high tolerance for pain. Frankly, I think being in love has a lot to do with it. I swear, there were weeks when after spending just a little time with Linda I would feel a true natural high for two to three days. My brain must turn out dopamine by the gallon with the right stimuli: love, pain, chocolate.

So, three hours into dancing and I was starting to feel a little tired. And dehydrated. I didn't have lunch. But at the end of the class Gloria said, "Michael, would you mind staying...."

I thought I would get out of the last class. I shouldn't put it that way, but I have lost my stamina from being sick for so long. A few of the Intermediate and Pre-Intermediate guys were hanging around and I was hoping I could leave and go get my shoes. But girls kept walking in the door.

So, the students kept pouring in through the rip in the dam. The room filled up. I'm surprised, now that I think about it, that Gloria didn't take the class back to a larger room. She had apparently received quite a few requests from people who wanted to jump into Beginning Salsa Week Two. That was unusual, and I understood why she wanted me to stay.

After about 40 minutes Gloria introduced the Cross Body Lead. This is as important as the Basic step in Salsa. In the Cross Body Lead, the man steps back, gets out of his partner's way, and brings her across in front of him, then he steps back in behind her as she turns, and they end up facing each other again, but they have turned 180 degrees. It's not an easy move to execute when you're a beginner. The men have to learn some fancy footwork (bless their hearts) and they have to learn how to lead.

As Gloria finished drilling the class in the footwork, she said, "Okay, everyone grab a partner." Only one girl held back. She had a slightly panicked look on her face. Having already thrown caution to the winds, and since I'm once again free and single, I boldly went where all the other guys were pining to go anyway. I stepped up to her and quietly summoned her with a gesture. I'm not sure of why I did that, except I was trying to be reassuring.

She came to me but, though she seemed pleased to have me as a partner (she knew by now none of the other guys could lead very well -- bless their hearts), she kept her distance. "What's up with this?" I thought. Well, I didn't have time to analyze the situation with a girl I will likely never see again. I just paired up with her.

Gloria doesn't actually let the students touch each other as they start to put the Cross Body Lead together. I won't describe her technique, but it's very effective (in my opinion). Unfortunately, our fair Damsel was Distressed again because she had never seen anything like this move. Normally, I would just take her into my frame and lead her through the steps with an extra amount of pressure. Most women pick up the Cross Body Lead quickly when an experienced man shows them what they have to do. But Gloria said very loudly and clearly, "No touching!"

I was genuinedly disappointed and frustrated. I wanted so much to show this girl that she could do it. So I dipped into my bag of tricks again. I pulled out my Magic Touchless Lead.

Yes, there is such a thing. I don't know where I latched onto it. I guess because I have such a strong interest in body language, and because I have noticed people using gesture languages in various situations, I just started resorting to using hand gestures in the clubs when dancing with new partners. My technique is not very sophisticated, although I think it evolved several degrees on Saturday.

I've never lead a Cross Body Lead without actually touching my partner. But Gloria's No Touching stipulation droppped between us like a sheet of lead. I've seldom felt such an overwhelming longing for physical contact in a non-romantic situation. I started guiding her through the Basic Step and the Cross Body Lead with my hand gestures. After a couple of attempts, she figured out what I was doing. I think she appreciated my ingenuity. I was just glad I didn't look too much like a gesturing fool. Gloria was behind me and I couldn't see her in the mirror, so I had no idea of whether I was breaking the Commandment or not.

But we got through the Cross Body Lead and I am sure this girl will become a fine dancer if she stays with it. I'd like to dance with her in a club, just to see how she does. I felt like she'd follow me anywhere by the end of the class. And when Gloria asked the students if they thought they'd want to continue on in Pre-Intermediate Salsa next month, I think I saw a cute but reluctant hand shyly rise into the air.

Maybe I'll get to dance with her after all. But we have to get through Easter weekend, when there are no dance classes. Two weeks is a lifetime for me. I've had whole relationships last a lifetime through two weeks.

Well, I didn't get the girl's name. I guess that was one of Linda's concerns about me. She says American guys are so "easy come, easy go". And in a way she is right. There is always another girl in the next class, someone sitting in the booth next to me stroking her hair, someone stopping to say, "Wow!" Whatever. The girls come and go and I cannot remember all ther names. I never ask for phone numbers. There is just no point. I couldn't call them all if I was being paid to.

So, I went off to get my shoes without saying good-bye. I was like to dead, anyway. I should say I wanted to crawl out of there, but the male hormone system won't let a man slouch when he's around a possible, potential mate. I blazed a hole through the door while the students were still milling about in shock and waited until I got to my car to collapse in near-total exhaustion. Who ever thought waving your hand through the air could be so stressful?

I got to the Houston Shoe Hospital (for the second time that day) and they actually found a pair of shoes that were lost in the morning before dance class. I was glad of that because I hate to lose a pair of $120 Italian leather shoes. I only stopped buying the K-Mart/Wal-mart shoes because I found out that expensive shoes can actually be comfortable (but not Cole & Haan -- I'll never buy their shoes again).

Well, the day was running away and I couldn't do the other stuff I needed to do. My car is filthy and needs to be cleaned, but I was just too tired. I grabbed a hamburger and went home. Lan and Company were only a few hours away, and I was sort of looking forward to checking out what would be for me a new dance venue.

It never happened.

I got to the general area of the restaurant on time, but I drove around and drove around and couldn't find it. I stopped and asked a police officer, a security guard, a lady walking along with her children. None of these people had ever heard of Los Andes. So I called the restaurant and the phone rang. And rang. And rang. I had to call Information to get the number and their system says it so fast I couldn't write the number down so I let them connect me for free.

The first time I got through. The answering machine picked up after many rings and it said, "Thank you for calling Los Andes. Please leave a message."

You know, maybe it's just the Salsa clubs and movie theaters, but when you get a recording in Houston, normally you get directions to the business location from popular highways. So I hung up on the answering machine. I called Lan. She didn't answer. Okay, my friends and I seldom answered our cell phones. In fact, I only picked up for Linda or someone in my family, unless I was just curious about a new number showing up on the display. So I left Lan a couple of messages. I tried calling Information again but they never gave me the same number twice. What was up with that?

After 30 minutes of driving around and calling other people who don't answer their cell phones on a Saturday night, I gave up. I left Lan a message saying I' m sorry but I'm heading over to Plaza 59. She knows I love Mary's Band.

Only I never made it to Plaza 59.

I don't know why, but I suddenly decided to check in with Geno. If he isn't going to a party or watching a game with the guys, Geno is usually checking out an interesting club on Saturday. I was really in the mood to do something different, so I was very surprised when he answered on the first ring. Yes, Geno knows where Los Andes is located. But his directions were about the same as the ones I got off the Internet. Truth be told, if the evening had been more like a date or something, I probably would have driven over there in the afternoon and found the restaurant while I had time to be lost and befuddled without looking stupid and foolish.

Well, Geno was going to a club named Amnesia. I've heard of it but have never visited there. Amnesia was having a show, Geno said. "Some of the best Salsa dancers in Houston will be there," he added. The last time Geno said something like that to me, and I attended the event, he was right. If Geno says "the best Salsa dancers in Houston should be there", you can expect some great dancing.

"Just one thing, Michael," he said as we about to get off the phone. "The club is not located in the best part of town. That's always been a problem with some of our friends." I knew what he meant. Getting the ladies in my dance group to check out a new location without a retinue of U.S. Marines to maintain security is darned near impossible. They spook easily. That was one of the reasons (Lan being the other) why I wanted to check out Los Andes. But I have to admit that if the evening had been so important to me, I would never have put off finding the restaurant for so long.

Michael does not fall out of love so easily.

Anyway, I stopped at Los Tios and grabbed some dinner. By this time it was getting close to ten and I noticed my legs were not what they used to be in the morning. I was still exhausted. In fact, here it is almost one A.M. Monday morning and my legs are still sore, although Amnesia had something to do with that.

The parking lot is well lit and I put my car under one of the big lights. I then walked into the club and started to realize as I scanned the bare exterior walls of the shopping plaza what Geno meant by "not located in the best part of town." I've done time in some holes-in-the-wall through my wild youthful years, but I was surprised that serious dancers would hit a spot in this kind of location. There were two guys standing outside the doors and one of them moved to open the doors for me.

"Well, " I thought, "Underdressed bouncers is okay, I suppose." Only he stopped me. "Senor, I have to {something unintelligible, possibly in Spanglish}".

"Huh? Habla Engles?"

"I must pat you down, Sir."

Oh. Okay, he patted me down. Truth be told, if I had wanted to go in there to start trouble, all I needed was my car keys. When I was a wild rotten youth, I got into a few fights. I learned to fight with weapons of every sort. I am always armed if I have a metal pen or a set of car keys with me. When I was in college, one of my friends brought a replica sword onto the campus. All the guys in our group had to spend part of their days playing swashbuckler fancy-poo. Except me. I'd done the real thing years before, and have drawn blood in my time I am ashamed to say.

So one day one of my friends picked up the sword while we were in a student organization office and he said, "This really should not be on campus."

"Why is that?" I asked.

He looked at me liked I had just failed Kindergarten for the tenth time. "Come on, Michael. This is a sword. It's a dangerous weapon."

I couldn't help but laugh. "My car keys are a dangerous weapon, but I bring them onto campus every day."

Matt couldn't help but be skeptical. "That's not the same thing," he insisted.

"If I shove a pen through your eye, what will happen?" I asked. I picked up a pen and held it against the profile of my head.

"Yeah, but no one uses a pen to kill anyone," he said.

"Matt," I replied, "When you're in a fight and you fear for your life, you'll use anything you can get your hands on. That's where the broken beer bottle cliche came from."

Well, he wasn't convinced that my car keys made a dangerous weapon, so I persuaded him to attack me with the sword. He actually made a good faith lunge to poke me in the stomach. It would have hurt had he succeeded. However, the difference between an idiot with a sword and someone who views car keys as a dangerous weapon is that the idiot doesn't know what he's doing. The guy with the car keys may very well know where to poke you to make you cry out in agony. Sorry, Matt.

Not that I go looking for trouble. I don't care to be the next headline on CNN: "Author fails to defend life with car keys." Just keep in mind that patting me down, looking for obvious weapons, doesn't mean I'm safe.

So they let me into the club anyway. I paid my fifteen dollars and kept thinking something equivalent to, "What a dump." But Art Williams says they are remodeling, so I'll cut them some slack. Although I hope they remodal the uncomfortable chairs. Ick. What a dump.

Was the night worthwhile? Well...yeah. I mean, there were some gorgeous women there and most of them seemed to know how to dance. But the guys knew how to dance, too. I don't think there were any beginners in the crowd. After the crowd showed up, I forgot to think, "What a dump!"

The DJ played some interesting music. There is a Jazz-Salsa blend that is popular in Houston (and I suppose elsewhere) that sometimes sounds awful and sometimes sounds right. This DJ played some of the best Jazz-Salsa fusion I've heard since I joined the Salsa scene. In fact, I was watching some dancers break into a Cha Cha as I was thinking, "This sounds like those slick jazzy movie soundtracks from the 1960s." Think of Matt Helm cutting across a spiffy club. That was the feeling I had.

And then I realized I was looking at this huge bear of a guy dancing Cha Cha. And he was good. Very good. Damn good. Bodacious-damn-son-where'd-you-learn-to-dance-like-that good. Holy mackeral! This guy has to be at least 6-foot-1 and 250-280 pounds, easily. Being tall isn't a great impairment for Salsa dancing although the ladies often complain about tall dance partners. But being tall and big: that's an issue. I've seen women struggle to dance with a large partner who just towers over them like a mountain. The guys feel frustrated, too.

I've asked Gloria what guys like that do. She made the point that you have to dance to your body's capability. I didn't understand what she meant, exactly, but I knew enough to see that a thin guy is going to do some moves differently from a heavy guy. But this Cha Cha Dude, he was dancing Cha Cha like I'd never seen it danced before.

He understands the strengths and limitations of his body. He knows where he can lead his partners. His moves are graceful and strong, powerful. He just radiates volumes of strength when he dances. That is what Gloria meant. I'm more of a smooth dancer (when I do it right). She taught me to be smooth, to make my partner feel like she is gliding on air. A good lead really doesn't seem to be there, but the woman feels it. I could tell that this guy was giving his partner a good lead.

But he can do the man's part, too. He wasn't afraid to get sassy. I kept thinking, "He has such a sassy attitude, and it's working. He's got Sassitude."

I should have realized Geno wouldn't lead me wrong. I was looking at some of the best Latin dancers in Texas and Los Angeles, as it turned out. The showcase featured exhibition dance teams from Houston, Austin, Dallas, San Antonio, and Los Angeles, including a guy who started one of the first Salsa exhibition companies in the country. Some of the dancers are obviously up-and-coming, but some of the dancers were polished professionals who clearly have professional choreography experience (or professional choreographers).

The Big Guy was not in the showcase, but some of the other dancers I noticed ended up on the stage. One group from Austin, five girls in sexy two-piece red outfits that look like fire (the red cloth is cut or woven to look like moving flames as they dance), did a pretty good routine but I felt like they had the wrong line up. I had noticed their shortest girl dancing in the crowd earler. She was good, but she radiated a vibrant, sexy, "I so love this kind of dancing!" attitude. She had total enthusiasm and tons of energy.

For reasons I'll never know, one of the taller girls was in the middle of the group and the choreography just did not fit well with the lineup. The short girl should have been in the middle because the choreography is made for a symmetrical review. With the short girl to the side, there is no symmetry. Sorry, ladies, but that's how I call it.

Another dance group, two guys drssed in white and black (respectively) did a routine to what I think was a medley of Hip or Reggaeton (Reggaeton is a fusion of Salsa and Hip Hop music). The review was not confined to Salsa dancing by any means, although there was no Cha Cha (which is a shame -- Cha Cha is a great dance for a review). The two guys' choreography conveyed the idea of competing males. I cannot explain it, but it was a great routine. It started out a little slowly, but as I caught on to the fact that they were supposed to be two friends who are secretly jealous of each other (and the words in the song seemed to be about the same topic), I found myself appreciating the execution of the moves.

The best dancers came on last, of course, and they executed acrobatic moves you rarely see on the dance floor (in fact, these were the kind of moves that you're not supposed to try on the dance floor, although I have seen them a few times). One guy wrapped his partner around his body, flipping her with apparent ease between his legs, around his back, and over his shoulder. He received the longest spontaneous ovation. A previous couple had tried a less aggressive move where the guy slid the girl between his legs and she got stuck. I can only say I admire his professionalism, because he continued dancing as if nothing happened. That is not an easy move by any means, and it's just downright dangerous for a man (and women, too) to attempt.

So, to watch the show I had to stand up. I stood slightly to the side of the camera operator and therefore had to stand on the cold concrete floor outside the wood-covered dance area. My legs were so cold and stiff when I walked out of there I could barely walk. I suppose my car keys would not have done me much good had some idiot with a sword wanted to mug me after all.

So, that was the Salsa part of my weekend. No Linda. I know, I'm supposed to put all that behind me. But it's going to be tough to find someone new as long as I keep comparing everyone to the girl I fell in love with. I wish she and I could have kept those happy moments going, but I've come to realize that when you get into arguments every time you're together, something is wrong.

Anyway, tomorrow is another day. And I'll be seeing someone else who has indicated she is interested. I'm not sure I'm ready for this.

Bless my heart.


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