yesterday, patricio and i learned how to do "the sweater." it both looks and sounds a little like a wrestling move, but instead of doing it on a mat wearing a leotard, i get to do it on a dance floor wearing my jeans and a t-shirt. it's one of the moves we learned yesterday at our second salsa dance class, where we scooted around for a couple of hours to the cuban grooves streaming out of the stereo. though we don't do the sweater very well with music yet, we can do it posing for the camera like the good well-intentioned amateurs we are. here's proof:
our friends, laura and pedro, are smitten with the idea of becoming salsa gods someday, and they've invited us into their dream. perhaps after we've acheived divine dance floor status, we can form our own little latin pantheon. that won't be happening for awhile, though. we've got to nail "the sweater" first, which is not as easy as it looks when the tempo's running at 180 beats a minute. and for the first time ever, i wish i were a couple of inches shorter. being taller than the man about to wrap our joined arms around my neck in a split second poses a considerable challenge. but this is a minor hurdle; we will overcome! and we'll do it as a result of accumulated sunday mornings spent on the second-story main floor of laura's aunt's house.
a nice little tradition is taking form every sunday around nine-thirty: patricio and i take off in the jetta and head to the rivero residence in naucalpan for coffee, biscuits and catch-up conversation. their house is like a visual haven and the perfect place to awaken the senses. filled with color, art and antiques of all shapes and sizes, being there is like hanging out in a museum where it's okay to sit on the chairs, touch everything in the collection, and talk at length to the directors. i love my sunday coffee time there, and i can safely say i'm not the only one. the weekend before last, we completely lost track of time and arrived at the class almost an hour late. we were saved from feeling like total schmos, though--the class had been cancelled anyway.
the first room in laura's aunt's house is a dance floor with huge mirrors on the far wall. that, in itself, is a sign of a person worth knowing. she brings in a young man to give a two-hour class every week for the beautiful price of four dollars a person. in theory, the class runs from ten to noon, but since no one ever really arrives on time (including the instructor), we finish up--sweaty and happy--about twelve-thirty. we all like this fellow who's teaching us to whirl each other around, because he's patient with us and lets us practice everything over and over again. laura suspects that we might be mistaking patience for what is really laziness on his part, but we've decided to give him the benefit of the doubt. in the end, i'm glad he doesn't try to teach us too much in two short hours. patricio is glad, too, because he still believes he's working with two left feet. i've seen his feet, though, and can tell that the only thing keeping him from groove godhood is confidence, practice and maybe just a little bit of coordination potion number nine. but not too much. he's simply underestimating the power of perseverance.
it turns out that we've got a year to persevere before we're really put in the spotlight. laura and pedro will be celebrating their twenty-fifth wedding anniversary in 2007, and since it's their party, they can play salsa all night if they want to. they envision us and some other friends blowing the other guests' minds with some killer choreography, so we've got a goal now, and we've got twelve months.
now when i say, "two hours of dance class," it really is pretty non-stop, but don't think that we're going to come out of this all super slim and trim, because the day doesn't stop for the four of us at 12:30. we love to dance, but we also love to eat, and weekends are famous for the appearance of barbacoa on the menus of a gazillion restaurants. i'm not one for eating kilos of meat on a regular basis, but when it comes to trying out barbacoa consomme and tacos with cream and guacamole, i will never say no. sundays have also now become our time to continue the quest for the best barbacoa this side of lake texcoco, so the salsa continues to flow after class is officially over, only this time it involves chile by the spoonful.