By Rosa Lopez
Salsa brings people together. A gringo with rhythm can be an expert salsa dancer before finishing studying subjunctive. Salsa bridges the language gap. Even a gringa who doesn’t understand “¿Quieres bailar?” understands an offered hand and a raised eyebrow. And she’ll have an abundance of flirty locals willing to whisk her out to the dance floor and explain the basic un, dos, tres. If she did want to take classes, chances are her Spanish school offers classes once a week. If not, there are at least five salsa schools in town whose prices are a fraction of what she might pay in the more developed world. After a few lessons, extranjero and Guatemalteco alike are ready to mix on the dance floor. Salsa has all the makings of one big, happy dance family.
However, if you pay the slightest attention, you can detect a subtle division in the salsa scene. Salseros strongly connected with one school participate in one competition at one bar, while everyone else attends a competition or presents a demonstration at another bar. All the schools treat each other cordially, and no one talks bad about the other, but still, tension exists. Saber que pasó. It doesn’t matter. What matters is how the salsa scene develops from here. Perhaps the “Salsa World Championship Presentations” at La Parranda II last month is the change the Xela salsa scene needs. For the first time, ALL the salsa schools in Xela were in one place at the same time to give their salsa presentation. Not quite one big happy family, but with time and La Parranda II, it could happen.
Of course, it would be a dysfunctional family. That’s just the way it’s all set up. Think about it. The extranjeros that dance are well, young and pretty extranjeras who will be in Xela maybe two weeks, maybe two months, or less likely two years. How much respect can a man have for any extranjera, after he’s been with his third one this year? In all fairness, along with the young, pretty things that get their hearts broken are the young, pretty things that are game to play. That balances the scales, but doesn’t make it any less dysfunctional. That said, here’s to one big, happy, dysfunctional, salsa family!