The Glasgow Salsa
Tuesday night in Glasgow. The only night we have to explore the city which is renowned (in Scotland, anyway) for it’s nightlife. However, the streets are empty save for the late night workers and drunken students. What to do? Head to the nearest establishment with fire cauldrons out the front, of course!
Greasy men leer at my friend KB and I as we pass through the door from grey, dreary Glasgow to…Cuba!
Thick, luscious Latin beats fill the dimly lit room. Candles flicker a yellowed light from nooks and crannies. Comfy couches hug the walls, holding men wearing black turtlenecks, and women in skirts. You can smell the sweat of bodies in movement.
The atmosphere gets to me and my imagination runs wild. I can see us overtaking the dance floor with our outrageously fantastic dancing. We will salsa the night away with a variety of beautiful, olive-skinned men, dancing like demons, drinking tequila before collapsing into bed as the sun comes up.
We wind our way through the not-particularly crowded room and find a big couch on the edge of the dance floor, close to the action. There are a handful of couples out, swingin’ with the beat. At least attempting to. Tuesday night is obviously beginners’ night. Still, the music beats on, and you can pretend you are in hot, humid Central America – if you only close your eyes.
A drunken staff member swings about the dance floor madly, darting between the couples, bestowing long stemmed carnations upon all the women. He spins and flourishes towards us, holding out a carnation for us each to take, then solo salsa’s his way over to give a flower to an overly inebriated man in a dark corner – who tells him in no uncertain terms to bugger off. It’s getting harder to imagine we’re in Cuba.
The barman whirls back to our couch, and with his last flower clenched between his teeth, holds out his hand by way of invitation for me to come out and dance. With images of me sweeping dramatically across the dance floor with my gallant partner, I accept.
I discover I cannot salsa.
The barman tries to teach me. He calls out instructions. He flails his arms wildly. He does his random moves more slowly. But I can’t understand a word he says over the booming music and his enormously thick Glaswegian accent. Surely this isn’t how things are in a Cuban club!
I am palmed off as the barman turns his wily ways towards my friend. My new partner is a much better dancer. He takes some time to see me through the basic steps. He holds me very close so I can follow his lead better. His shirt is dripping wet. I know now where the sweat smell is emanating from.
Recognising signs of the end, we leave the nearly empty club. The lethargic regulars slump on the couches. Though our salsa dream of tonight is gone, we shall salsa another day! Once I actually learn how to do it, that is.