What a pity I'm going to miss the next Buena Vista Night in Oxford. It's quite become the highlight of the month, although with all the festivities in London lately at Carnival de Cuba and next week's Afro-Cuban Weekender, Habanaloko party the following week and the Manolito Concert at the Coronet at the end of the month, July looks like the best month this year for us UK-bound Cuba-loving salseros.
D and I arrived to watch Habanero Leo Henriquez from Brighton teaching the raunchiest rueda moves I've ever seen. Mangos, castiga-la ("she's been naughty - slap her, you know you want to..."). I was kind of glad I wasn't in the class. Hey - there are some salsa moves that I'll only do with David.
(Well...maybe...until some Cuban guy comes along and tempts me into it...)
Over at the bar we had one of those brilliant reunions you sometimes get if you've been dancing for years and years - someone who's dropped off the planet for a while will swoop back into Oxford and of course, they'll visit the latest salsa joint. On Saturday it was Nick St Clair. Nick; blond Nick with the flowing blond mane and the tight white jeans, sexy Nick with the flashy Merc, Nick who once had his own salsa band. Yes, that Nick? You don't know him? Ahhh. Before your time then?
I didn't recognise Nick at first because he's gone all Andaluz. Living in Granada, Spain will do that for you. His hair is darker, tied back in a gitano-style pony tail. He was dressed all in black. Nick has two kids now; gorgeous, he showed us pictures. I had a brilliant dance with Nick - he hasn't lost his touch at all. My favourite Nick story is about an early dance experience of his. A sultry Spanish woman was dancing with him in a club, when he'd had just one or two lessons. She mistook his flamboyant clothes and hair for the att-it-tude of a guy who can dance. (Beginner need to watch out for that!) When she found out that he was a beginner she just left him there, walked away from him on the dance floor. Lo deje planta'o!
As Nick told me this story, it began to sound familiar. "I think I know that woman," I told him. "In fact, I think she's a good friend of mine - Ana." So devastated was Nick by this treatment that he resolved to become a terrific dancer. And he did. So Ana did him a favour really, didn't she?
We really enjoyed the set by DJ Shorty. She's a very pretty girl. And she loves the music of Adalberto Alvarez!
So...next week...Crawley! For three nights and two days of all-salsa-all-the-time!