So it’s Wednesday. Yup, Wednesday, and I’m just now starting this blog thing. It’s not laziness though I rather wish it were, because a mild scolding for laziness would be so much less awful than my current state of drippy and congested. I felt this particular foulness sneaking up on my last week but somehow thought that the solution was to just keep on keeping on, complete with lots of dance and late nights. That may not have been the best plan of attack.
By the time I woke up on Monday in Framingham, I was absolutely beat and once I got back to the city on Monday night, I was undeniably on the road to an awful cold. Now, normally I just carry on with the sniffles and the coughing, but by tomorrow night, I need to be ready for the biggest salsa congress on my calendar so I’m trying very hard to take it easy and sleep as much as possible—hence the delay in this blog. But now let’s get to it because, sick or not, I have a lot of ground to cover.
Way back on Tuesday, I left the office en route to my biweekly snap-crackle-pop after which it was time for 1.5 hours of dance education. Yes, I decided to start taking a footwork and partnerwork class at Piel Canela. It’s a good workout and a fun time surrounded by lots of good people, but I have to say that there are some aspects of followers technique which rather diverge from anything I’ve ever encountered before. Most worryingly of all, the instructor had no idea what I was talking about when I asked about the differences in technique. Despite my small bits of skepticism, I left the class pleasantly tired and thoroughly soaked. I rather think I wouldn’t believe I’d actually taken a salsa class if I didn’t need to change afterwards.
The following day, after a fantastically stressful and exhausting day at work, I decided to subject my sleep deprived body to another round of mental and physical exhaustion. This time, my particular poison was Karel Flores’ Ladies styling class. It was an hour and a half of full on, all in dancing in a room absolutely packed to the gills with people. To say it was hot and sweaty would be a massive understatement. I may have been dripping when I left.
Once salsa’d into submission, I slipped off to westie cafe where I conducted a full quick change and dry-off in the washroom before making my way onto the dance floor. Exhausted as I was, somehow I still ended up staying out until the end of the night and then spending even more time chatting with friends on the sidewalk. Who needs sleep when you’ve got dance and friends?
Come Thursday, my throat was starting to feel a little tickly but there were Irish in town so there was to be no rest for the wicked. After work I quickly threw some clothes in a bag for the weekend and bounced off into Midtown to meet a salsa friend from Ireland. She was only in New York for about a week so it was salsa every night and Thursday was to be no exception. We started the evening with another New York friend at a restaurant in K-Town where we all got our full of hot and spicy before heading one block south for salsa. It was Eddie’s monthly social so, despite finishing dinner rather later than usual (read: somewhere around 11pm), we couldn’t miss it. And it was wonderful! For only $8 we found ourselves in a room full of fun and friendly dancers with the one and only Mambo King, Eddie Torres, on the decks. As if that was not enough, every few dances, Eddie would get up (with Eddie Jr. right behind him) and do shines at the front of the studio welcoming any who wished to follow along. It’s such a magical thing just to watch him dance. I don’t think I’ll ever tire of the sight.
After the social wrapped up around 1am, we decided we still weren’t done, so the three of us headed up to a rooftop bar tucked in amongst the skyscrapers of Midtown to sip and stare at the gorgeous skyline lights. We chatted and caught up until they kicked us out and we rode the elevator back to the street in the company of a very affectionate couple. Once back at ground level, trains were found and taxis hailed and off we went into our own respective nights. I won’t even begin to put a time stamp of the point at which I finally found my bed, but it was such a good night, I don’t even care if it was a catalyst in my current illness.
And then, at last, it was Friday. I’d taken the day off to use up a few vacation days before the end of summer cut-off, so I slept in a bit, finished packing for the weekend and then set out to meet some more visitors from past lives and locations. A pair of Victoria friends were in the city so I met them at the subway and took them on a little adventure around my neighbourhood during which I discovered that, even on a Friday morning, brunch is a hot commodity on the Lower East Side and there will be a wait. We eventually put our names on a list for The Egg Shop and settled into the cafe next door to caffeinate and wait. Twenty minutes later we were staring overwhelmed at the menu and trying to settle on meals. We eventually managed to make our choices and scarfed down a delicious meal before wandering back out into downtown Manhattan. We moseyed through the Bowery and Chinatown before turning up Broadway and into the shopping.
I left them at Broome and Broadway, heading home to tidy the apartment and prep some food for the weekend before, finally, at 3pm hopping on a train towards Grand Central Station. There I met two westie friends and we hopped on Metro North to meet the last member of our posse and head north to Summer Hummer. As is always the way, by the time we got out of the city, the traffic was insane so we wound through backroads playing car games and managed to get to the hotel almost exactly when planned even with the disruption of a gas-less rest stop that left us staring down all the scary “empty” lights for the last few miles of our drive.
When we arrived at the hotel, I headed off to meet my most excellent posse of Houston roomies. They were a positively wonderful crew of welcoming westies who would make my entire weekend better with their warmth.
After checking in with my roommates, I stuffed some food in my face and headed back to the ballroom to watch comps and dance the night away. Saturday morning saw me peeling myself out of bed to dance dummy for a friend in his private lesson. I have to say that I was amused to be recruited purposefully because I am so much taller than the dancer in question, but I also must say that I am endlessly impressed by this particular lead. He makes every effort to make dances with me comfortable and fun despite our strikingly non-traditional height ratio. After spending much of my dance life being avoided for my height or having shorter leads conduct a ridiculous song and dance about being on their toes when they lead me to the floor, it is truly lovely to be appreciated and enjoyed for my height.
After helping with the privates, I dropped into Brandi’s class hoping for some technique tips. The class was good, but I have to say I’m not such a fan of this charming phenomenon of turning a group class instructor into a guru. Rather than taking a class wherein this brilliant individual was able to teach the things she felt we needed, we sat in on an expert Q&A while the bolder students in the class tossed out question after question until our hour was up. As perhaps you can tell, I have opinions.
After a quick lunch, I then changed and set off to the ballroom to compete. Once my comps were over for the day, I filmed my friends, watched the comps, and danced a bit before heading out to the pool deck for the famous Summer Hummer Pool Party. There was a barbecue and free beer, a hula hoop contest, and a seriously bad-ass limbo competition, followed by camp shows from the pros and a quick talent contest with one hell of a beat-boxer. Some three hours later as we lost the sun and started to get cold, it was time to head back in, change again, and head to the ballroom for shows, choreography comps, and social dancing. One of my roommates was competing in the Rising Star contest, and I have to say her choreo blew my mind! Look out West Coast westies, y’all got competition out here (or rather in Texas, but shhhh).
After dancing until 4am, I rolled out of bed on Sunday in time to take two classes before returning to the room to change for finals. Yes, I made finals! I was pretty pleased with myself but a bit nervous for my results so I headed down to the staging area a bit early and found someone to warm up with. He was a friendly fellow with a nice clear lead and it was a very effective warm up. Little did I know that sometime later when we finally hit the floor, the very same leader would be my draw for partner! We had so much fun. Our dances weren’t exactly perfect and we took a few risks that might have been too risky but we were smiling and laughing the whole time and then, in the end, we got 3rd! I’m still hankering for a win, but I’m not about to complain about 10 swing points a cheque that covers my contest fee!
At the end of a triumphant weekend, with almost all the New Yorkers gone home before me, I headed out with the Houston crew for Sunday night seafood. The food was fantastic, but Ive definitely had better service before. I’m telling myself that our server was new and still learning, because if he wasn’t? Oh heaven help him!
For myself, I ate a lobster bisque which was creamy and rich and full of big meaty chunks of lobster and a plate of thai style calamari. I really should have picked a different style of calamari but the event director had recommended this one so I gave it a go. It was very VERY rich and sweet but underneath all the pineapple and thai sweet chilli sauce the calamari were so tender and perfectly prepared, I can only imagine them on their own dipped lightly in tzatziki. Following my seafood, I enjoyed a gorgeous dark chocolate mousse and then it was time to shuffle off back to the hotel for a final night of dance.
It was a Sunday night—my favourite night at events—and I spent it alternating between dancing, chatting with new found friends, and lounging on the floor stretching out my stiffening body. It was a most excellent evening, but the illness and exhaustion was creeping up on me in the form of a third night of headaches in a row so I turned in and tied to grab a little sleep before Monday morning.
On Monday, I packed my gear, met my friend of height differential fame, and headed south to the city. We chatted all the way back but I was fading, dripping into a sluggish and incoherent state of mind. By the time I climbed aboard a Metro North train in Poughkeepsie, I was done for. Fortunately, the train was not too full, so I curled up on a pari of seats and dozed all the way down to the city. With bleary eyes and fuzzy head, I grabbed an F train and headed down to the LES. Two slices of my favourite pizza in hand, i stumbled up the stairs to my flat and promptly passed out. And that’s been about the size of it since then. I’m fighting off sinus congestion and a nasty cough which together are driving a bit of a sore throat and a desperate need for sleep, which is, of course, why I will leave you here. Trust me, the last two days have been nothing by sleep, tissues, and misery, you’re not missing anything for my lack of description and I am, once again, inexorably drifting into sleep.
Only dying a little,
The Salsa Girl