Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Kentish Salsa

All day it's at the back of my mind, an eight-beat sub-text that won't go away. Finally, one year into our new life in Kent Town I have discovered that there is a Sunday night Salsa class close by. Will I, won't I, brave it alone? It's three years or so since I danced the dance; Ned, my much-loved teacher is long gone and so is my pre-birth body. Everything's gone a little southwards these days.

It's been a tiring day, too. The Bim's parents are with us, Anna-mouse is on her bestest demanding form and I can think of every reason in the world not to venture out just as she's about to go down.

After an antsy half hour throwing clothes around the room and making it entirely the Bim's fault that I have nothing to wear, I find myself driving down to Quaint Town in search of The Venue. I follow a confident-looking woman through the bar and out the other side, down some steps into a long, low room with a nice smiley black man on the door. Turns out I'm early. I was trying to be minutely late so as to miss the hanging about like a wallflower with a neon arrow saying 'New Girl' pointed at my head, so I spend quarter of an hour in the Ladies, hugging a cranberry juice and re-doing my hair. Nerves aren't in it.

At last the class begins. I put myself into the middle group, Improvers/Intermediates, and pray my body remembers something. Bless Ned, it does. First up I'm partnered by a short sturdy Italian who wears a chain and a moustache. He raises an eyebrow as I stumble on a simple turn, but slowly, slowly as we change partners and work our way round the circle I feel my soul wake up, relax and begin to smile. I notice that other people are nervous, too. Some of the blokes have sweaty palms and are saying 'Sorry' more than I am. About the third time I make it round to the Italian guy, he smiles.

Two days later, my feet still hurt. I catch myself practising the cross-body in Debenhams. I know I'm older, slower. I don't move as quickly on the spins. But some long-buried part of me is gasping with relief. It's like finding a long-lost soulmate. It's like bumping into myself and shaking hands. It's Livvy, dancing Salsa again.

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