Thursday, July 03, 2008

Barrio Latino

This former factory near the Bastille has a spectacular interior with balconies around a wooden floor.

I was feeling confident, having not been turned down once the previous night. I was a bit tired so my dancing was a bit variable to start with, but nobody seemed to mind. It’s pure cross-body style. With one woman I thought it was worth taking the risk of appearing in my own HM Bateman cartoon (‘The man who danced Cuban style in Barrio Latino’) and it went down well: she asked me where I’d learnt to dance Cuban-style and told me it was what she normally danced.

The best dancers mostly danced on the side of the floor nearest the DJ booth. I saw some terrific dancing by people who really seemed to be making it fun. Some of the top women only dance with the top men – I had a few refusals – but that wasn’t really a problem (I’d rather get a straight ‘no’ than dance with someone who’s not enjoying herself).

The music was uniformly excellent, almost all salsa, and unlike Madrid and Brussels I only recognised a couple of songs all afternoon. Very good-humoured: when I miscalculated a move and inadvertently inserted the woman I was dancing with between another dancer and his partner he just laughed it off.

Memorable dances included two with a woman who resembled Cerys Matthews, but smaller, browner, and prettier. She had an extraordinarily decisive bachata hip action – 1, 2, 3, BANG, 5, 6, 7, BANG... I tried to work out how she did it while I watched her dancing with someone else. Then there was the tallest woman I’ve ever danced with: she looked far too cool to dance with me (serious, pierced navel, tattooed hip) but when she said yes I had to hastily try and calculate which moves would work with someone who was probably 15cm taller than me.

Mid-afternoon I had two brilliant dances in succession, dancing better than I have for a long time. One was with the first woman I’d danced with the previous night. The second was one of the best dances I’ve ever had with a stranger, with some wonderfully subtle following.

I also realised that I really have learnt a lot recently as I was using of a lot of the points of technique from Andy’s advanced workshops (and Angus’s private lesson). And Misael’s Sombrero 88 and Ventilador worked with the Cuban woman.

One of the regular dancers had her birthday dance later, which was cool: just the top dancers circling her and taking it in turns (with plenty of joking around when somebody jumped in out of turn) while the whole club clapped out the clave.

Negatives? It was very hot (but then it was a very hot weekend), the drinks cost three times what you’d pay in Risa, and the dance floor got very crowded later on. None of these things should stop you going. Unlike Madrid – where I found the dance culture a bit alien – dancing in Paris seemed like the UK but just better: better music, better dancers and more fun. Definitely the most enjoyable three and a half hours I've spent dancing in a long time.

No comments: