January 10th, 2015
Day 1 of our salsa week begins today!!! The group from Edmonton, Calgary and Vancouver arrived at 7 am after a red eye from Canada. I met my roommate Sharlene who seems really nice and ready for adventures!
We all went for dinner at a “French Restaurant” (there was some reference to France on the front sign but the food was not at all French). We have four vegans in the group, myself, my dad, Jadwiga and Queeni, a girl from Calgary (who has become my new bestie! We have everything in common, yay)! Woot having four vegans is enough minorities to make sure we are not forgotten at meals and chefs are more on the hook to make something delicious. At this restaurant, we each had a huge salad for appetizers, bread, vegetable soup then spaghetti with veggie and marinara with a plate of veggies on the side!
After dinner we were escorted to the roof top of the restaurant where all the lights were turned off. All of a sudden we hear people shouting “welcome to Cuba”, the lights turned on and all the dancers jumped out at us welcoming us to the party. It was spectacular! Everything kinda seemed to go downhill after that. All the male dancers seemed to go straight for the older women which seemed really odd to me but from what I’ve come to know about Cuba, older women and men are tickets to getting out of Cuba. This may have been a completely bias observation on my part, but it’s just what I noticed.
After the first dance, Orlando announced there was an open bar which was a horrible idea because the dancers at that point seemed more interested in drinking and socializing with each other than dancing with us. There was a good four or five male dancers at any given time not dancing, chatting amongst themselves. We were paying them to be there and dance with us and they seemed to care less about actually doing the work they were being paid to do.
I ended up having to asked each guy to dance which for me was uncomfortable but I pushed past my comfort zone, otherwise I doubt I would have danced at all. The feeling in the room was much like a junior high dance, all the girls on one end waiting for a guy to ask her to dance and all the guys on the other end of the room socializing with each other as if women were not yet interesting to them. In retrospect, it was quite comical.
I decided to set a goal for myself to dance with every guy so I could get a feel for how they danced as one of them was going to be my partner for the whole week. I think there were three guys in the end I did not end up dancing with!
On the bus ride home everyone seemed pretty upset by how the dancers behaved. The female dancers were really good, dancing with the guys the whole time and getting the girls up to do body movement type stuff occasionally. The whole scene showed how typical the dynamic between men and women are in this country. To top it all off, Orlando is 6 male dancers short and classes start tomorrow morning! Jen, his wife and business partner ended up not being able to come on the trip as she is pregnant and was instructed not to fly, so Orlando is now coordinating everything on his own and you can already tell he is in need of some help. Based on my two weeks being here so far, going with the flow and not having high expectations has proven to work well so I’m sure this trip is going to a once in a life time experience, which of course are always produce the best memories!
I should also make a note and shout out to Hasan right now as he was a participant on the trip (Queeni’s husband) who took a lot of amazing photo’s throughout the week. I’ll be using them in my next few posts. If you want to check out all his photography from the trip, click here (the pictures are breath taking).