Simon Dunne: Salsa King

Trip Start Oct 10, 2006
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of Colombia  ,
Monday, April 30, 2007

I was in Cali, Colombia the self proclaimed salsa capital of Latin America with the self-proclaimed hottest women in Colombia. Whereas the women´s claim is debateable there is no debating that the weather is hot and the music is hotter. Someone once told me: "When in the salsa" so I grabbed three other guys from the hostel and off we went to one of the most famous joints in town.

Although we set out with the bravado of bullfighters, the scene did little to encourage us. Red leather crescent-shaped booths surround the circular dance floor like a scene out of Scarface. The music is so loud that conversation is not an option; people come here to dance. Men bring their wives, girls their boyfriends. They sit at the booths, arms around eachother whispering sweet nothings until the tune suits them just right. The evening is slightly less romantic for four oversized gringos. We sit awkwardly cramped in our booth meant for couples, drinking copious amounts of rum and staring out at the coordinated couples on the dancefloor like a peep show; and considering the amount of silicon in this town, that´s not far off. That is until the couples in the neighbouring booth take it upon themselves to find us dancing partners.

Despite our initial confidence, the skill of absolutely everyone on the dance floor kept us glued to our seats. Still, as we were in Rome, we figured we´d give it a shot. Four girls are dragged to our booth, wide-eyed like they´re heading to the gas chamber. White men in a salsa club are avoided like lepers and these poor girls are caught regretting their favour to a friend. But we all headed out to the dance floor dragging our sacrifices behind us. I was particulary impressed that my dancing partner managed to avoid eye contact with me for the entire duration of one painfully long song. She made herself limp like a child resisting bedtime and didn´t even react to my frequent missteps that found her toe. At the song´s grateful conclusion she quickly vanished into the crowd leaving me standing solo as the next song picked up. I looked around the dance floor to see spinning couples finding their tempo. And three other solo gringos looking completely lost. It was time to go.
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