Monday, April 18, 2011

Away Weekend - St. Louis

Last weekend I had the good fortune of getting out of town. 

It was for a business event, but none-the-less, I left my three wild monkeys at home with their loving caregivers and I had more peace and quiet in one weekend that I've had all year. 

Every time someone texted to ask what I was doing, I proudly reported that I was sitting in my hotel room experiencing the wicked quiet that being by oneself affords. Thank God. Peace and quiet is an essential element of the human condition.

And when I wasn't sitting in the silent bliss of my room, I was doing other businessy kinds of things. Which, coincidently, is another essential element of the human condition.

And when I wasn't doing businessy kinds of things, I was dancing. Finally, the third essential element of the human condition. Go figure!

On Saturday night my colleagues and I took to the town. 

The next day my cheeks were sore.

Come on now, get your mind out of the gutter. It wan't the cheeks below the waist, it was the cheeks on my face.

I wish I had a picture to show you the perma-grin I had going all night long, but I left my camera at home in the good name of movin’ and groovin’.

Usually I come home from a night on the town with sore feet, sore legs and at times a sore head, but never have I reported sore cheeks. This was a first.

And what a first it was—a world music dance club in the Central West End of St. Louis called Club Viva. My girlfriends and I walked through a non-descrete side door, down the dark stairs and into another world. The dancefloor was small but the personalities were big. Men and women of all different ethnicities and nationalities, ages, shapes and sizes ripping it up on the beat-up hardwood floor.

Partner dancing was the name of the game in this basement club. I was finding it hard to believe that some of these folks were not professional Latin ballroom dancers in their day jobs. The moves. The grace. The sweat. The good cheer. All of it—blew my mind. These folks were incredibly serious about their dances.

It was hard to know who to watch. Every single one was worth feasting my eyes upon the whole night long. 

There was the young woman with infinitely long legs who moved like a majestic gliding swan in flight. 

And then the old woman, certainly older than my mother, dancing with a hip young man and keeping up with him every step of the way, pausing only to dab the perspiration from her brow and chest. Cute as a button.

The partner dancing wouldn’t be anything without the Spanish, African, Puerto Rican, and Mexican men leading the women around the floor with such strength and purpose. 

The lovely local friend who brought us to this spot told us the dancers ediquette is to clear the floor after every song. Without 30 seconds pause, the same dancers would be back, each time with a new partner, to tear it up for another round. As the night wore on, a charismatic Latin singer emerged from the crowd to belt the tunes and shake his maracas to the beat. Truly, I have never seen anything like it.

By the end of the night it became obvious to my friend and I that this type of dancing was clearly missing in our lives. It brings a certain richness that can't be described. What ever happened to dance halls of the past? How is it that I, nor most of my peers, haven't the faintest clue about how to partner dance?

What I loved most about this experience is that it brought my imagination back to a time in the US when dance halls were the thing to do for a night on the town. And dancing with a partner was the only way to dance in public. I could just picture my Grandmother and her peers out at the dance hall. I've made up my mind—we need more of this—I need more of this.

Hubby, get your dancing shoes on. We've got work to do.


Hands down, the most jaw-dropping dance of the night was the Bachata. I could not believe my eyes when every single person on the dance floor broke into this sexy number that has its origins in the rural neighborhoods of the Dominican Republic.



  1. you have a dance hall in your backyard- Avalon in Boulder! you made me long for my pre-kid salsa dancing days!!!!!

  2. How lovely! I had no idea this place existed. Clearly I need to get out more! And girl, who says your salsa dancing days are over? I see post-kid salsa dancing days coming up in your near future :)

  3. Wade and I will join you come fall! We're wanting to take ball dancing lessons & who wouldn't want to dance like this and add a lil spice post kiddos ;)


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