In Which Furniture is Acquired and Leg Day is Redefined


Somewhat blurry breakfast at a cafe seconds from the bottom of my stairs.

My window sill is almost wide enough to sit comfortably in. I know this because I am there now, and I say almost because I am currently hanging rather precariously with half a buttock hovering over my antique heater while the rest of me makes a concerted effort not to lean on the window. I don’t know how sturdy the glazing is, but I’d rather not experiment when the result could be a 5-storey drop. Prior to installing myself in my window, I actually had a fairly productive morning. I did my laundry, met a pervert, saw a cop car use its All-American loudspeaker system to pull a driver over, bought my groceries, met a nefarious turnstile, ate a donut, killed a cockroach on the subway platform… It’s definitely been a mixed day and I’ve not even made it to dance yet. Yes, more dance. If you think I will be doing any recreational activities that are not dance any time soon, you are seriously underestimating the magnitude of my obsession.

The Dancing

Tonight I am planning to head out to the Jimmy Anton social which blessedly wraps up at 10pm so that I can get home to bed at a reasonable hour without feeling like I’m missing too terribly much. Thus far this week, my dance adventures included another class with Griselle, a trip to the Abakua social, and a properly intense night of Halloween festivities at SalsaMania. Abakua was a more laid back event than most of the others I’ve been to without performances or costumes, just people who love to dance and dance we did. There was also a deliciously elevated ratio of chachacha to salsa which suited me to a tee. I’m not saying I could dance only chachacha all night long, but I totally could, and I definitely wouldn’t be raging about it either.

The following night at SalsaMania was, admittedly, more of a mixed bag. There were high level performers, out of town visitors, On1 dancers, street dancers, and even a dancer I’d first met back in 2013 when I came to New York with Salsa Caliente. There was also a subset of dancers which I found absolutely baffling and nearly impossible to follow. It has been suggested to me that there is a phenomenon known only as “Dominican Salsa” which is “very…different? Well you’ll see…” and I begin to think that perhaps this was that. It felt like we were dancing on 2 but inverted, so that my 2 was breaking back and somehow it wasn’t quite on the 2. Now normally dancing on 6 rather than 2 like this doesn’t break my brain nearly as badly as it did with these guys so I have to assume that they were doing something else utterly novel to me because I just couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening. There was also a certain ambivalence about the line which regularly left me stunned, several steps offset from my partner because he’d decided to rotate our line of dance 90 degrees for a move or two. It was altogether a different thing from the standard New York On2 crew that I’ve been dancing with thus far.

Between bafflements, I also managed to reconnect with the effervescent “Happy Feet”. I remembered him from the 2013 congress not only because he was a wonderful dancer with a wicked gift for telling exactly who you learned from and for how long, but also because of his trademark shoes: a basic black pair adorned with one giant yellow smiley face per foot. In addition to some excellent dances he also facilitated (or rather directly caused) my involvement in a madcap partner switching dance wherein four leads traded back and forth between three follows. It’s one of those magical things that so seldom happens in real life (read: other salsa scenes) and there I was grinning like an idiot in the midst of it as my brain turned to mush for the focus required. ’Twas great gas!

The night also featured another round of phenomenal performances. There were some more pedestrian bits to start but by the end things were about as full on as it is possible to get with a standard ceiling height. And then they had the costume dance-off which just happened to include a few professional couples. It is hard to describe how good some of them were without expletives. Either way, by about 3am I was stumbling back to the subway to drag my barely functioning legs home, which brings us to the question of how I reduced my legs to such a state of dysfunction.

The Furnishing

After a week of sleeping on a blow up mattress in a disaster of suitcases, clothing, and chaos, it was time for some furniture. So after a late-ish night of dance on Friday, I rolled myself out of bed on Saturday morning to tackle the mandatory IKEA trip. Now, I wasn’t just going to IKEA because I like Swedish furniture and it’s fairly affordable for new furniture, no, I was going to IKEA because I’d done the math and there was no way I was hauling already assembled furniture all the way up to my room. Carrying boxes is one thing but hauling a bed frame? Quite another. So off I went, armed with a coupon, a rough shopping list, and a rather abused credit card to furnish my space.

On an utterly unrelated note, it is now, quite suddenly pouring rain of the buckets variety. I suspect that New York is secretly a monsoon climate because no where else have I seen quite such a tendency for sudden and thorough soakings. I once again thank my lucky stars that I didn’t end up in basement suite.

But back to the furniture. I took the train down to Red Hook in Brooklyn where the IKEA store sprawls amongst the industrial properties and subsidized housing in all of it’s blocky blue and yellow grandeur. Having already done most of my research, my journey through the showroom was quite efficient only stopping to take down the retrieval numbers for the pieces that I had already decided I wanted as well as a rather larger, more expensive dresser than I had originally planned.

Once my shopping list was full, I dropped through the cafe for a cup of coffee and one of those deceptively delicious $5 meals that IKEA is so famous for. Then it was on to the factory floor to actually acquire all of my goodies. I was, for the most part very focused and bought only those things that I had planned to but then there were the plants! I didn’t know they had plants! I would almost certainly have come home with more but as I contemplated fitting them all in to a taxi along with my soon to be mountains of furniture I was able to hold myself to a single little aloe vera. Adorable and useful, I mean how can you go wrong with that.

By the time I made it to a till, my trolley was packed with boxes, bits, and bobs and I was bracing myself for the sticker shock. It wasn’t pretty but it wasn’t quite as bad as feared and I got all the things I’d intended and a few more so I really can’t complain. I’m sure my taxi driver could complain though as I parked my overflowing collection of goodies behind his van and left it to him to figure out how to tetris is all in. Now, fortunately this was not an average van sized taxi, you see in New York, taxis are rather a different character altogether. About the only time you seem to get a regular taxi with lights on top and a T on the side is if you street hail one. Otherwise, you call a car service and they send “a car” which can be anything, literally anything. In this case it was a massive SUV with three rows of seating, half of which were laid down to make room for all my furniture.

When we arrived to my flat, the driver parked half over a crosswalk and together we unloaded the whole beastly mass into the foyer of my block of flats. The list of items that then stood waiting for me was as follows:
1 trash basket filled with a back of door hanger, an aloe plant, and some slippers
1 package wooden hangars
1 package bed slats
1 box double bed frame
1 rolled and vacuum packed double mattress
2 boxes containing one bookcase each
2 boxes containing one dresser between them
1 box standing floor mirror

At risk of sounding like the little red hen, I carried those boxes up, each and every one, up five flights of stairs, ALL BY MYSELF! Which may be part of the reason why today feels like the day after a savage bootcamp at the gym. When I arrived at the top, I met my roommate’s girlfriend and then promptly locked myself away in my room to build furniture for the foreseeable. I am happy to report that it all went very well until low blood sugar and exhaustion started addling my brain and the final piece (my bed frame) found itself being subjected to at least a few unfastenings as I realized and rectified my errors.

By 5pm my room was furnished and I was wrecked, but not so wrecked that I wouldn’t spend another hour or so figuring out one more Halloween costume to take me out into the dancing and the night. Yes, after climbing 40 flights of stairs under load, I thought it would be a great idea to go out dancing. I might be a masochist, but I’m more likely just a dance addict.

Half-way to hamstrung,
The Salsa Girl


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