I put the finishing touches on a busted hip flexor Sunday night. If it wasn't jacked before, ooo lawd, it was on fire come Monday morning. It didn't occur to me that salsa dancing could wreck it so. A couple women from Husband's tennis circle were gonna check out a spot in the Marina on Sunday. Since I'd botched my walk earlier, I thought dancing would be a good supplemental cardio. Y'know, cross training? And I was jonsing bad to cut a rug.
I sipped a five dollar Añejo rum and diet and watched my friends take the lesson before the club popped off. One instructor looked like Margaret Cho in a short flowy skirt and the other instructor looked like Jeff Daniels. A smooth buzz crept up and I giggled to myself watching the scene.
After the lesson we grabbed a table, talked tennis. The lights dimmed. The DJ spun the good CD's. After I was asked to dance the first time, I didn't sit down again until two hours had passed. I danced almost every song. I danced with a man with iron hair in his early 70's. He was wearing a maroon Member's Only jacket and a navy and silver striped tie. His name was Arthur and he smelled like sweet baby powder. When we danced he said, "I'm taking voice lessons at Santa Monica College, old classic stuff like Sinatra." I said, "That's great!" He said, "You're like a movie star." I said, "Nu-uh, Arthur." "Yea, from my era," he said, "you don't stop smiling when you dance." Arthur wasn't a good dancer, but his charm almost made up for it. He asked a girl from my table to dance next and before she was lead away she gave me a worried look. "Oh Arthur?" I said reassuring her, "he smells great." I danced with a serious young man with no eyelids and a wrinkled forehead. He wore black jeans, polished shoes and an oversized box of a shirt in plaid. He danced well with a strong subtle lead and his sense of rhythm was spot on. I said, "Where are you from?" thinking he was Dominican or Puerto Rican. He said, "Hawthorne" which is a working-class hood on the southern fringes of Los Angeles County. I laughed, "Hawthorne? I thought you were Dominican." His seriousness broke into a shy smile of brilliant teeth. He said, "Naw." He'd only been dancing a year. I told him he was better than most of the jokers in the club. I danced with a tall skinny man from Alberta. His hair looked like a crown of tumbleweeds. He said he danced ballroom in Canada. He wasn't used to how we dance in California. I said, "How do we dance?" He said, "In circles, like this." I said, "How do you dance?" He said, "More linear, like this." I said, "Dance how you want. I just follow." I danced with a Mexican cat that was shaped like a beachball. He had fat lips and capped teeth and he was probably one of the better dancers in the place. Spins were his specialty; he lead and I spun.
The dance floor was small and narrow crammed between the bar and a covered patio. The floor was made of old plywood and outlined by a tiny raised border. Dancers spilled beyond the floor and onto uneven paver tiles. Sometimes I was caught dancing between the floor and the tiles, trying not to nick the border with my heels. I could feel the deep groves between the tiles. Looking at the floor before I danced made me uneasy, but once I stepped back into the grove, nothing else mattered but the music and dancing to it. I would've danced on rotting planks and mesh netting if I had to. But in hindsight, the constant adjustment was probably murder on my hip. I didn't feel a thing dancing, but Monday morning when I got up it felt like a steel spike was jammed into my hip bone "Oooo," I said rubbing the spot as I limped to the bathroom. I could feel it grinding in there like razors had been implanted into the socket.
I took three days off from training. Yesterday was my first day back. I took it slowly and got in a mild two and a half miles. I patted myself on the back for taking rest days when in my younger years I would've bullied myself through the pain like a fool. I have, however, been worried that I wouldn't be able to dance for a while. Every second of Sunday night was worth every sore second since. If my friends asked me to go dancing again this weekend, fuck it, I'd go, and then maybe try to find some sort of hip sling.
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