Dispatches from Cuba #8 – 8.9.15

If Cubans could afford more booze, they wouldn’t dance so damned well, even in spite of the horrible heat which muffles the night like a wet blanket over a fiery lust. I don’t know when I’ll die, thankfully, like everyone, but I hope that when those drawn-out moments of despair and confusion subside, what I see and feel are the moments of floating bliss in a dark mist of colour and human touch. Dancing, is freer than kissing, and far above sex, in that your mind still races. It still wants. In the heat of fucking, your mind knows better than to pipe up, but while dancing, it is as alive as it could be in a sublime slurring of thought, drifting into a cadence it can’t control like a damned good beat that steals your feet.

Cuban salsa is a symphony of frenetic spinning and graceful twirling in time to a one-two-three beat that throws off the Western four-by-four sensibilities. Watching from afar it seemed like a quaint after dinner show. Light drumming and rolling guitars backed by baritone Spanish vocals rolling in waves. I held a Pina Colada in a small plastic cup, overflowing with Havana Club white rum and smiled. After an hour, no number had really seemed that unique, because just like the lyrics, the music was so alien, it all ran over me in a haze where pacing was about all I could catch hold of. None of that mattered as the pineapple and rum made me feel that warm dislocation from gravity, but what did matter was that the Cubans had swarmed on the tourist women and upped their game. Salsa was just another dance, and the mating dance is a veil over the war dance. The lithe men moved with ivory teeth lingering above so many pulsating hips. Their skin was shiny and dark like the night sky I looked up to with a bout of breathlessness. It was a battle field and the Cuban dancers spun in time so smoothly and rapidly, it was like watching my disembodied pride stand hypnotised before an expert swordsman, soon cut to ribbons.

The next day, I took a free lesson for the hell of it. I learned the steps to the Cuban salsa as best you can be taught in less than an hour. You step back, cock your hips, then step forward again. Same goes for the side. Then you spin this way. You can spin and turn that way. You can get as creative as you like if you just lead and keep the time. All of it piled up like paperwork in my brain, but my brain was preoccupied with the aftermath of a good drinking session the night before, and the early afternoon immediately prior. I’d left the house without water and my brain was a barren desert atop of swampy wasteland on two legs. Excuses aside, dancing doesn’t come from your head, it comes from what the music does to you, and salsa just never seduced me.

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