Note: I am still fishing, and supervising the painting of my house. Here is a story, to hold you.
Every Sunday late afternoon, weather permitting, a salsa group meets in a small area sandwiched between the public toilet and shower, the street and the beach. There is a million-dollar view of Monterey Bay. The nucleus of the gathering is a dance class that has taken charge of bringing the sound system and of changing the CDs. Passers-by on their way to and from the beach and the boardwalk stop to watch; many just join in for a while. Some stay the full time. Every so often, a few cholos bring their drums. It all adds up to a pleasant, spontaneous, yet orderly event where people of different origins mix easily.
The undisputed queen is a short-haired, young black woman with a high, round bottom atop long legs and a cool air of competence about her. One compact white girl of about twenty, with thick glasses, clad and shod by Land’s End, is always there, from beginning to end. She will dance with absolutely anyone, man or woman, or in-between. A farm worker from Sinaloa can do well for himself there, if he is well scrubbed. This is where African students living on five hundred dollars a month are pursued by shapely, middle-class white women in ultra-short salsa dresses with a flounce. The women wear special dressy satin panties under the dresses. The underwear is meant to be seen and admired, of course.
Twenty-five year-old Dominican dishwashers rule there because of their superior moves, learned as toddlers. There are always a few Chinese-looking people who dance very well. You can tell from their hairstyles and their clothing that they are not immigrants. More likely, they are“bananas,” white people trapped in a yellow skin.
Even old men can give a good account of themselves if they are good dancers. Not just the tall, slim kind with graying temples and a linen shirt of matching color, but even the stocky ones in warm-up suits and Birkenstocks who were already ugly in high school. It’s wonderful how salsa brings out the slut, even in mild-mannered Presbyterian accountants. One wears a long black skirt slit to the hip. (OK, I don’t know for a fact she is an accountant, but she has the face and the glasses of one.)
The Sunday afternoon salsa group confirms a curious fact people always suspect but never talk about: Men with blue or green eyes can’t dance, no matter what. A tall, handsome, light-skinned black man with dreadlocks gives the other pathetic note. He comes every week; he is old enough to be going bald on top. He dances like a fool, with studious application. He never gets the hang of it. The guy just does not have any sense of rhythm. Incidentally, he has green eyes.
Jacques Delacroix 2003, 2009.