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Lez’hur Ledger: Salsa, ¡aye caramba!
“We’re going to take you on a mambo-salsa cha cha cha ride!” With a voice lifted right from Vince Schlomi of ShamWow commercial fame, emcee Earl Rush of StuckonSalsa.com goaded a group of nervous, mostly thirty-or-forty-something couples onto the dance floor, and cued the DJ.
Though it may have been dark, windy, and oppressively cold outside, the bright lights of the ballroom of Rosslyn’s Artisphere bathed the auditorium in reds and yellows. Starting this week, the urban arts center is hosting weekly Tuesday night salsa lessons, followed by a large live band that was made up of about as many musicians as there were people on the dance floor.
Looking on from the sidelines of the ballroom, the scene struck me as not just bizarre, but slightly unnatural—like an Avatar-budget set populated by D-list actors, carelessly spinning themselves silly. Clad in clunky rain boots and without a dance partner, I managed to evade the first round in favor of sitting down and watching.
Soon after this round, however, another lost soul wandered into the auditorium, looking confused. She turned to me and asked if I had showed up for the “Writeo: Poetry Workshop” event as well. No, I admitted, I was actually there to dance.
Led to salsa night by the poetry class’ botched advertising, the straggling woman received a free salsa lesson (normally $15, $12 for students) and complementary drinks from the generous folks at Artisphere. I reluctantly pulled off my rain boots and took out the ballet flats I had been keeping stashed in my bag, so we could both make the most of what Artisphere had to offer. Just a moment after stepping onto the dance floor, however, that sneaky Earl decided to mix things up and switch the pairings—I lost my fellow partner in crime amid a shuffling sea of dance shoes.
Nervous, I thought I was surrounded by serious salsa aficionados until Rush chimed, “Men, you have to lead the women! Put your right hand up, flat on her back and ‘Chop!’ like a ninja!” My partner rolled his eyes and whispered, “I’ve never seen Jackie Chan do the bachata … I can’t believe my girlfriend made me do this.”