One of the most fulfilling things for me is rumba, salsa, guaguanco. I love to dance. I write about it a lot. I don’t love performance-style dancing but I’m realizing that there may be a choreographer inside me somewhere. I have endless ideas about how I’d like dance to look but can’t always execute–as I’m not a “classically” trained dancer and I can’t walk on my toes (yet). Since it’s the week of truth–the truth is that as much as an old school mambo purist as I am, I be imagining dancing salsa to Trey Songs and R. Kelly ALL THE TIME! And since baby making R&B makes me happy too, I decided rumba to R&B…so here goes a little taste. I’m working on finishing that entire song, I wanna do something interesting with slow jams and salsa—we’ll see.
…this is how I want to dance. Once adults have decided a young girl is old enough to be sexualized they begin socializing her to be conscious of everything she does with her body. Including how she moves it. And if you’re the daughter of Latina/Caribbean woman it can sometimes be ridiculous. Inch by inch the world tells you “don’t have your legs like this,” “don’t put your backside like that,” “Wear this, not that,” “cover that, close this, move this.” Everything except: be. Everything except exist in your body fully, express it how it comes naturally to you. I spent this last weekend in Atlanta with my parents and sisters. I’m astonished now at how much like my father I am. Naturally both masculine and sometimes feminine–I sit like him, walk like him, have the same gestures and I position myself the same way he does when he plops down. But as a young girl, my father was the strongest man I knew, I never would imagine him getting old and me getting stronger than he is. But I see it now–him aging. And it scares me because it reminds me of the fragility of life–and this grand man–papi–even he will die one day. I can see that while full of energy and still not looking a day over 45 (thought he’s 60) that he can’t do quite as much as he used to.
And I know now that everything I was taught about my body–how I should be as a woman–was not for me. I am my father’s child. I was always a tomboy and my mother responded by throwing out all of my baggy clothes and forcing me to wear horrible dresses and tighter fitting clothes. Continue reading
It had been several weeks, I’ve avoided class and haven’t been out to salsa socially in at least a month. Eddie had also been gone for several classes, his wife Maria teaching in his place. I was excited to be back in the studio and though I prefer Maria often (because she’s not as difficult) I knew Eddie would be perfect to unrust me and get me sweating. When I’m in class I’m always at the far right in the corner next to the piano. This time I stood on the opposite side, which is right next to the teacher. The class was packed because everyone heard he was back in town. When he walked in (as usual) applause and kisses but this time I was the first one he saw front row, as opposed to the last as usual, and there was a grin (of recognition) so wide across his face as he looked all over my head and gave me kudos on my new do. Now I know this isn’t a big deal for most people but Eddie Torres gave me props Continue reading
The studio before work early in the morning to dance. The sun was shining and at first I didn’t want to get up but I have to practice regularly to get where I want to be and I hate the early morning. Before I had a chance to even stop, it hit me how fortunate I was to be able to get up early and dance the dance I love. Reinvigorated, I started the day the only way better than making love–making dance.
Wednesday night at LQ would be my splurge I had convinced myself. After a light dinner at Tea Spot, my new favorite café in the west Village, to the upper east side to the one venue not frequented by super-rich hotel dwellers. The cover was $2 more than usual which cut into me paying for coat check. After talking to the bouncer he waved the fee. There was a band playing with a singer who was trying too hard to be like Marc Anthony. Continue reading
It’s called Kizomba–both the music and the dance from Angola (like an African tango). My first mini-class was last week in Bushwick at my friend’s silly studio party where a beautiful man taught me; tonight I danced with him again and kizomba is my new favorite dance/music. This video is a little dramatic but there were some beautiful dancers at one of the only places in NYC that has kizomba dancers (time for me to visit Europe where they say it’s as popular as salsa). Absolutely sexy, my dance partner, he’s good at all types of dances from Haitian to salsa to bachata, “I’m sorry I don’t mean to be rude but shit are your nipples hard?!” I said “Sorry does it make you uncomfortable? They’re almost always like that but it’s this dancing too.” “No, I didn’t mean to look I just happened to glance down–um, you want to take a break?” “Okay,” I said but we didn’t stop. The music alone sets the pit of my stomach on fire and makes me ache deep inside. Salsa I feel in my chest, my heart–this is different. I’m going to barter with my new kizomba friend he wants to get better at salsa I’m going to have him teach me kizomba and try my hardest not to devour every inch of his chocolate body–try being the key word. I’m up tonight listening over and over to this music as it throws my soul into a frenzy. Tomorrow night, salsa. I love New York…
It struck me recently that I am living the life of an artist. I would always wonder how some aquaintences and friends of mine pulled it off–the ones who can live and do exactly what they want to do and somehow maintain a roof over their heads. Apart from being rich, I couldn’t figure out how they did it. It’s a mix of only working part-time (work that I love) and making just a little more than I need to get by and staying in a place where I don’t have to pay rent. Granted I also don’t have the type of privacy I like but several days a week I go to Times Square 39th and 7th avenue in the middle of the fashion district and amid the real artists–designers and models, stylists carrying Oscar de la Renta gowns in protective bags and pattern designers running in and out of buildings with racks of clothes–there’s me. Me, dancing at champion studios; on the 14th floor able to see the entire avenue–the music echoing in the room and me alone with the music and a mirror. There, I get to critique myself and see what it is I’m actually doing. I don’t have to rush out because there’s no deadline, I don’t have to get to bed early because an office isn’t waiting for me. Continue reading