Monday, March 3, 2008

A weekend of Salsa!

This was a pretty eventful weekend for me. Things got started off on Friday. I met a few of my friends from the salsa group for dinner at the Tokyo Steakhouse and Sushi bar. For those of you who haven't been there, it's a Hibachi style grill house, with a sushi bar built in. They've got some real good food there. Most of us opted to eat from the grill, but Bill and I decided to have sushi instead. While we waited, the conversation ranged from trips we've taken to other countries, to the hope that enough people register to start up the level 3 Salsa class, to an entertaining little chat between Tristan and myself about the merits of CS gas for clearing your sinuses. The chef came out to cook, and as usual, it was a fun show. Onion volcanoes, juggling eggs on spatulas, throwing food into peoples mouths, the whole nine yards.

The only thing marring the meal was the fact that my sushi took a half hour longer to prepare than anyone Else's meal, for some unknown reason. Even Bill, who ordered more sushi than I did, got his food before I did. I guess they had a tough time killing the salmon...

Once my food got brought out, everyone else was nearly finished with their meal. They were nice enough to not pressure me about it, but I still felt kind of sheepish about it. So, in my somewhat masochistic method of eating, I slathered the sushi in enough wasabi to make my eyes water, and wolfed it down. It was frustrating having to wait that long, but the food was good, and for 7 pieces of nigri and 8 California rolls for $14.95, the price was right too.
At about 9:15, we left the Sushi Bar and went over to Platinum. It was a little early, and Mike and Simona were still trying to get the sound system working right, so I grabbed my friends Rob and John and played a game of cutthroat. I'm not the greatest at shooting pool, and Rob's actually a pretty good shot, so I was kind of doomed from the outset. However, things went from bad to worse. On my second shot, I was pressing a little bit, and on the follow through I rammed my hand into the metal grating on the side of the pool table. The impact gouged a chunk of skin off the index and middle finger of my right hand. It stung, but it wasn't bleeding, so I kept playing. A couple of shots later, I hit the Cue ball, and watched a glob of blood go flying off my hand and onto the table. I looked at my hand, and found that it was bleeding, profusely. I handed my cue off to Shelly while I went to the bathroom to get some paper towels to soak up the blood. When I returned, Shelly noticed the blood saturated rag covering my right hand, and asked me if I wanted some band aids. Lord knows where she managed to find band aids in the bar, but she really saved my night. The girls wouldn't exactly be lining up to dance with me if I was just going to bleed all over their blouse.

Right about when Mike got the sound system to where he liked it and Simona got the music going, Sheridan showed up. Sheridan's a beautiful girl from the Salsa class at OSU that I help out with. She's got some very real potential as a dancer, even if she doesn't think so herself. She's easy to talk to and very intelligent. She's also shares a name with a tank, what more could you ask for?

I took Sheridan out onto the dance floor for several songs, a few sons, a merengue, and a nice bachata. It was nice because it was before things got really crowded. I asked if she was feeling a little adventurous, and took the nervous giggle I got as a yes. I took her over to a Rueda de Casino that was forming on the dance floor. We jumped in, and she acquitted herself well. Afterwords, I saw my friends Amy and Shannon had shown up, so I brought them over to meet Sheridan. It turns out they all knew each other from their freshman year in college. They immediately started catching up on what they'd missed, so I left them to their devices and danced with a few other friends from my salsa class.

Later around midnight, Simona kicked off the Leap Day Leap Frog contest. I looked around for Sheridan, to see if I could get her to partner up with me, but it turns out she had left a little while ago. I had hoped to get her phone number, but I'm sure I'll see her around again. I found a guy named Dylan who was willing to team up with me for the competition.

The rules of the competition were pretty straightforward, the team had to leapfrog the length of the dance floor, chug a beer, and leapfrog back. There were six teams, broken down into two heats of three. The winner of each heat would face each other in the final. Dylan and I were in the second heat, so we watched the first heat go through. Rob and John, the two guys I was playing pool with earlier, dominated the first heat. Although I suspect it might have been closer if Naomi and Alana remembered that they needed to go back after chugging the beer. The second heat rolled around, and we were up. We smoked our competition. This meant that we had to go against Rob and John in the finals. That last run was filled with Olympic caliber drama, if the Olympics were conducted in a dark nightclub by drunks. We hit the beers at a dead tie, but Rob botched the landing, slipping on spilled beer. Thinking we had the win sewed up, we let up a little bit on the return trip. But Rob and John came back with a vengeance. Right as we were coming up on the finish, Rob completely laid out in an attempt to snatch our victory away from us. But we were not to be denied. We edged them out by a nose, and claimed our victory. The reward for the champions was more beer, and a stuffed frog. It's good to be on top.

Afterwords, once I was done with my victory beer. I ran into one of the girls who were brave enough to compete in the leap frog contest. Her name was Kara and we hit it off nicely. We sat down at a table and talked for a little while. As we were talking, my friend Kyle showed up to say hi. Turns out he knew Kara. I thought it was kind of odd to see Kyle at a Latin X night, he always struck me as a Wild West Wednesday type. He admitted as much, but I wish he had gone out and danced a bit. There's a picture of him on the Latin X website where he's just sitting at the bar, looking completely out of his element. I'd probably look the same on a Wednesday night.

The conversation with Kara progressed nicely, until Simona decided to start playing some merengue again. At which point I felt the need to take Kara for a few dances. A little merengue is great because you can dance it no matter how much alcohol you've imbibed at that point. The music went from Merengue to salsa after a few songs, and Kara continued to keep up, which impressed me. She definitely has done salsa before. I'll have to make sure she comes out for the next Latin X night.

At this point, it was real late, and the party started to die down. Security hit the lights, and everyone staggered their way out into the night. I stayed behind to help Mike break down some of the decorations. My height comes in handy with some of the higher lighting setups. On my way home, I watched some poor SOB get lit up for a DUI. It was their own fault, every night the cops stash cars at the same place outside every bar, and every night, someone's stupid enough to try driving drunk right in front of the cop. I'm just glad I live close enough to walk.

Saturday morning brought up a new set of challenges. Rumbanana was holding a fundraiser party at Aztec Willie's in Portland. The goal was to raise money for their trip to the World Rueda Championships in Munich, Germany this week. The side effect of this fundraiser is an awesome party. However, the party's in Portland, I'm in Corvallis, and there's 90 miles separating the two. These are the days I wish I had a car. But I don't, so I do what's needed to get what I need, I beg, wheel and deal, and call in favors. But sometimes, things get a little out of control. This was one of those times.

Initially, I was supposed to get a ride from Alana. We were going to leave around 11 AM, and I'd bum around Portland for the day before showing up at the party at 9. I called her at 10, and she said that she decided to leave later. Fine by me, lets me loaf around home, rather than in Portland. But then, at around six, she calls me and tells me that somethings happened over at her place and she won't be able to give me a ride. Well, shit.

I go into panic mode. I start calling up everyone I know who has a car, to see if I could get a ride up to Portland. Alana was helpful, she sent me a ton of numbers of people from Rumbanana, and I started going down the list. Eventually, I found a ride up there. Thankfully.

We drove up to Portland, and found our way over to Aztec Willie's. We got there right as Mike and Simona kicked off the Rueda lesson. As that got going, I went over to the bar, and opened a tab. I was in a Kahlua type mood that night. I started off with a Smith and Wesson, and through the course of the night I went through a few White Russians and B-52s too. Yum...

Aztec Willie's is a nice establishment, it's got a couple flat screens with SC on, a Mexican grill, and a nice dance floor with a classy looking glass DJ booth. The problem is, the partition between the grill and the bar and the dance floor creates a brutal choke point. It really makes things a lot more crowded than it should be.

After I opened up my tab, I noticed the grill. But the bar had my debit card. The food actually looked pretty good, and even though I wasn't that hungry, I seriously entertained the notion of asking if I could put an enchilada on my bar tab. I bet they get asked that alot. But I thought better of mixing Mexican food and excessive amounts of alcohol.

One of my favorite things about going to a salsa night at the club is finding new people to dance with outside of the rumbanana circle. I was sipping on my drink after dancing a Bachata with Sara, I was walking over to the bar for another drink. On my way, I saw a pretty woman, about 5'11", blond, and slim. I walked over and asked if she wanted to dance. She said she didn't know how. So I taught her a little LA style salsa, because it's easier for most women to pick up on the fly than Cuban salsa. We danced some salsa, and some merengue (because let's face it, anyone can dance merengue). She had a good sense of rhythm, which made things easier, but things were still a little cramped on the packed floor. We went back to the bar, and engaged in the typical small talk. Her name was Kelly, and she was a Massage Therapist who had just moved to Portland from her previous job at a spa in Malaysia. Sexy. I'm definitely calling her the next time I'm in Portland.

Eventually, I had to leave, given as I was 90 miles from home, and my hope, to crash at Chelsea's place, fell through when she got a house sitting gig that night. So I bummed a ride back to Corvy, and passed out the moment I hit the bed. I spent most of Sunday recovering.

It was awesome.

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