I am such a stiff Brit when it comes to feeling rhythm and letting my body move to the music. Even under the influence, I´m only marginally better.
But this is Latin America where rhythm drives people, where school children practise their samba beats daily in preparation for Quito´s December parades, where salsotecas attract both locals and tourists alike for night long salsathons.
Time to get involved.
My first class started by learning the basic steps. Just when I felt comfortable, the teacher would introduce another move or put on a faster track and it would all go wrong. Having missed the cue to partner up, I was left to dance with the instructor. A somewhat short, stout and slightly sweaty character in fetching tracksuit bottoms, he was the best partner I could have hoped for as I learnt the moves right, right from the start. When he insisted that I take my eyes away from my feet and up to his ´cuerpo´ – his body – and his face, I could of course only smile straight back at his wide smile. Within no time I was swinging around, trying to loosen up my hips, and getting pretty hot and sweaty in the process. The others seemed to glide around each other effortlessly. They must have been before.
Overall, it was fun, if going somewhat against my instinctual mental and physical thoughts and movements… but hey… when in Quito, do as the Quitoans do!
Watch out salsotecas – I may yet throw some shapes your way!