Salsa Characters

Salsa Character Portraits 

 

The Salsa Holic 

 

The Salsaholic

The Salsaholic is a very recognisable member of the salsa community. Where others drink, smoke or take drugs, his addiction is Salsa, to an extent that the Salsaholic lives only for salsa. When you talk to him, he only wants to talk about it, and seems to drift off to sleep as soon as the conversation leaves the familiar ground of his passion. His alarm clock beeps in a clave rhythm, he drinks his coffee while listening to El Gran Combo, and drives to work with Salsa spilling out of the windows of his car. All day long he thinks of where he will go to dance that evening, and in the case of the Elegant salsaholic, what he will wear. At work, he surfs all the internet sites that talk about salsa, orders his CDs on www.you-want-salsa-we-got-it.com and calls his friends to talk about Los Van Van's latest album. He goes out dancing, of course, every night and if by bad luck there is nowhere to dance, he spends his time with his Salsa friends watching Salsa videos or talking about the best way to dance Salsa. Does one dance on the One or the Two, that is the question… He would rather die than miss his weekly salsa class, and knows everything, you heard me, everything about salsa in New Zealand. He takes regular vacations to neighboring countries for concerts or to visit salsa CD specialists, or just to visit the local salsa clubs. If you get into his car after a long night of dancing salsa, he will put Ismael Miranda in the CD player before putting the key in the ignition to cover up the unbearable silence. It sometimes happens that the salsaholic oversaturates. It's bound to happen, after breathing salsa 24/7, you'll say. So, for a period of several hours he will take a break, and listen to...Merengue.  

 

The Cheapskate

 

The Cheapskate

 

 

 

His guiding principle : no cent shall be spent on salsa. In order to follow his precept to the letter of the law, he begins to learn to dance by testing the free trial classes for each dance school in the area. Once he's tried them all, he learns by symbiosis : that is, he becomes very good friends with someone who is actually paying for classes, who teaches him all he needs to know in private. He only goes dancing where there is no fee, and it's not necessary to pay for a drink. He always has a bottle of water in his sportsac and when he's thirsty, will hide in a corner of the room and furtively drink, like a hobo from a brown paper sack, to quench his thirst. When one of his favorite (hence, free) parties starts charging an entry fee, he will write impassioned posts on the Salsa Christchurch forum about how salsa isn't what it used to be and he will never again cross the threshold of the establishment in question. When he goes to the Loaded Hog on a fee night it's only because he's won a free invite. As the clock strikes 9pm, he's there, and is solidly anchored to a barstool during the entire happy hour. The height of his pleasure is the water: not only is it free, but he can drink without having to clean his glass (which of course, he will never do). In brief, if you are a Gargamel, don't count on him to finance your affairs

 

The Invisible Man

 

He is not an attractive man. He's the type of person that you don't even see as he goes by ; some, cruel, would say that he's insignificant. He is the shadow of his own self in filtered light, vacillating, shuttered. It is difficult to guess his age because nothing in his appearance seems to want to speak : his clothing is not there to stand out, his hairstyle is so absent as to be without qualification… his eyes are more intimate with the ceiling than with anyone present, and he is best defined by his evasiveness. I've only seen him alone, never with friends. But he dances, or mimes movement to the music… his body skips to a different rhythm, as though motivated by minor seizures. Sometimes while watching him I think that he must know how to dance, but that the music sounds different in his ears, that the beats trip his consciousness on other tempos. He is carried away by the music, and as he sweats from the laboring pleasure of his dance, his hair in plastered rivulets on his forehead, one can almost forget the profound sadness that weights his shoulders, a solitude so striking that no one can mute it. When he soaked with the sweat of his movements, he sinks into a dark corner to dry. Methodical, he takes a step to the side, and freezes, in analysis of his movement. A furtive glance to his feet, and his arm strikes out, claws, and maims the air, to fall…and to freeze, the analysis of motion, and then he throws himself into a turn from which he almost can not escape. Suddenly, feeling the weight of my regard, he takes several small steps whose logic only he knows completely, to stop himself from drowning, to save face. In the hung time of a glance, I've never been able to capture his face. The tension of battle of a laugh repressed twists his lips, where a smile rests briefly, no ceasefire this… when the music stops he is already gone and has disappeared before anyone notices that he was ever there. I believe that no one, except for me, has noticed that the invisible man has come, and is already gone.

 

The King of The Dance Floor

 

The King of the Dance Floor

Paradoxically, the King of the dancefloor dances very rarely on the floor itself. The dancefloor is too often encumbered by couples who, if they're not restricting him in his movements, block the audience of the faithful from watching his oeuvre. The King of the Dance floor can often be found elsewhere, preferably a spot with very good lighting - for example, next to the bar, where he has all the room he needs to shine in the eyes of the other, enraptured subjects-salseros who are lucky enough to see him dance. The King of the Dancefloor is in most cases a good dancer, who distinguishes himself from other good dancers in that he doesn't find pleasure in the dance itself, but in the fact that everyone watches him. His dance therefore is composed of an accumulation of technical exploits and spectacular passes, all executed perfectly without the smallest backwards glance towards his dance partner, who he will gratify from time to time with a smile in the brilliant style of Tom Cruise. The King of the Dancefloor rarely arrives without his Court, comprised of dancers who like to show off also, but not as much as the King. When the King of the Dancefloor dances, his fan-club surrounds him, and salutes each example of technical prowess by whistling, and ooohs and aaahs. This ceremony repeats itself throughout the course of the party, the members of the Court receiving each one in turn their 5 minutes of fame and glory in the arms of the King while the leftovers comment on the execution and perfection of this or the other pass, and saluting the high points of the dance with various and sundry noises. The King of the Dancefloor compensates their fidelity by high-fives or a manly slap on the shoulder. The King of the Dance Floor does not dance with just anyone : he only dances with partners of his own castle, or with those ladies on whom he would like to practice the full range of his moves, in which case he dances on the floor, and the Court falls, mysteriously, away. A perfect example of the divine right of kings, his popularity vanishes if one should leave the Court. Happily for the King, the dancefloor knows no revolution other than the Rueda.

 

The Tornado 

 

The Tornado

This creature is very easy to spot at a salsa party due to the fact that regardless of the density of the crowd on the floor, when she dances, as if by magic, a large space flowers around her path. Everyone knows the Tornado. Those who don't have this pleasure already figure out very quickly, after having received the benediction of her elbow in their nose, two or three piercings by the heel of her shoe, or the rake of her nails across their face, and they quickly migrate to other, safer areas of the dancefloor. The Tornado, incidentally, never excuses herself : on the contrary, when she caroms into another dancer during the course of her frenzy, euh, that is, her dance, she looks at them with a bothered glance, as if she wanted to say, 'hey, Jerk, outta my way ?' We all need a certain amount of dance space, without which, one is obligated to dance Minimalist salsa, which is characterized by expressively nodding the head and little else. However, for her, the dance space required is a spacious 10 square meters, which is roughly the equivalent of a Parisian studio apartment. One might think that the eye of the storm might be attained by being proactive and asking her to dance : but no, your left arm will cramp up and send in a letter of resignation after she pulls tug-of-war with it by throwing herself backwards every three measures, and it is unfortunately less rare than one would hope to be rewarded by her elbow in your nose, or even to put out one's back while attempting to retrieve her from one of the trademark spectacularly momentous dips into which she throws herself. What's that ? A second dance ? Euh, no thanks.

 

The Star

 

The Star

The Star could be a Star in real life, because she dances well. However, don't make the mistake of looking for her in dance troops or shows : she is a true star, she makes her appearances rare. Of course, she's courted by all these groups, but they hold no interest for her, they have to understand. Contrary to the King of the Dancefloor, the Star dances in the middle of the floor because she likes to believe that she is a Someone who everyone around will stop dancing, or will come closer, just for the pleasure of laying eyes on her. Just to check, she will scan the room to make sure that everyone is watching her as soon as she takes her first step, and at the end of each measure. The Star does not look at her partner, she looks at her public. It is common that she will start a conversation with her admirers on the edge of the dancefloor without a second thought for her partner, who she lets lead her, with little interest, as if to say, 'ah, I'm sooooo very very good.' The Star never smiles : she cultivates her aura of mystery and she is very conscious of her role and her position. If you dared to approach her, timid, to compliment her and to ask where she learned to dance, she may possibly accept your compliment with the gratification of a condescending smile, and will explain that her dance is in the blood, that she learned everything in two weeks, and that most other dancers copy her moves. But do not make the fatal error of inviting her to dance : she only will dance with the cream of the best dancers and will not compromise her style with beginners or intermediate dancers. She picks them, like the preying mantis, herself…on the off-chance that a producer happens to be watching.