Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dia de los Salseroz! Tips for Clubbing and Dancing in Costa Rica

I never thought I'd learn how to Salsa and Meringue in a crash course, but I did.
Total count of toes stepped on and people I hit: 23ish.....
The whole trip I wanted to go to a club (do not say nightclub in Latin America - it means strip club), so when the other students staying in the compound asked if I wanted to go to a Salsa Festival at a club I was game. Part of the fun of that day was getting to the club.

The original plan was to catch the bus and get off at a stop near the supermarket to take a cab. By the time we walked the 30 min walk from the compound to the bus stop we thought we may have missed the bus. Luckily the bus arrived 10 min later and was not too crowded. Since I was used to public transport and buses, I thought I'd be ok with the whole system. Turns out the stop we needed to get off at was on the highway...... on a strip of green between the highway and the exit. Bus stops in Costa Rica took on a new meaning after that.

By the time we got to the super market, the cab should have been waiting or a few min later arrive. When the cab was MIA for around 10 min we decided to call again. The answering service said it is on the way - or at least form what one of my companions translated. Another 10 min and it was still not here - turns out the driver picked up someone else and canceled our call. Thanks to some really nice security guards we finally got a ride and were entertained while waiting for the ride.

Coming up to La Rumba (the club name), I was amazed. Not only did it have three story windows, it was the size of a small Wal-Mart.  Coverage was only $10 for the 4-10pm festival - a steal for anyone use to DC prices of $20 for a 3 hour time period.


The dancing part was the most interesting. Since I had very basic knowledge of salsa, I knew I was in over my head when I saw a couple who looked like ballroom competitors. To see a live band on the stage playing Salsa music and a dance floor the size of a decent-sized DC club was like walking into a club in Central Florida and recognizing you and your friends are the only white girls there (Spring Break 2012). From that previous experience, I knew I needed to beg for lessons.

Luckily, the girl who brought me had a friend who taught salsa and other latin ballroom dances.
By the end of the night, I had sore feet and had become the entertainment for many in attendance that were at the bar.

tips: So you can learn from my mistakes
1. Never let go of the guys hand, not only will you be completely lost, you will probably run into someone or hit your partner while trying to find their hand.
2. Guys ask for the dance
3. Don't feel guilty to turn down, they are very good at finding dance partners
4. If there are a lot of people dancing and they look good - stay off the floor, the song is fast and you will only make a fool of yourself (flapping around and stepping on everyone's shoes)
5. Wear shoes with a back, shoes that have a sandal style will fall off of slip around
6. Beware: Meringue is a very close dance, if you want to learn how to dance it be prepared to be up and close and personal with your instructor
7. Making eye contact with anyone can be interpreted as a silent proposition to dance

Age was only a number. There were men who were old enough to be my grandfather dancing like teenagers. There were teenagers dancing like professionals and then there were people like me who looked like toddlers dancing to the Dragon Tales.  If you've ever been clubbing you are aware that there are older men always on the prowl, but here there's a new level. Older in Dc clubs is 40+, older at the La Rumba = 80+. These guys were on the prowl taking a whole new meaning to silver fox - they were most likely the Rico Suaves of their generation.

Something I did not know until it was too late was the manners that come with the nightlife.
1. Ladies never drink from the bottle, always glasses with straws
2. Never leave your bag out, hide it under your jacket
3. Dancing alone is ok, but it is a sign that you want a partner, not that you want to just dance with friends
4. Your table can also be another groups table if you don't properly claim it (the table beside me had an interesting mix of a silver fox and three young professionals)

Here is a link to a video that was the promotional video for the Once-a-year Festival!

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