This is the first post by guest commentator Nick Wilson, also known in medical circles as Dr. Love. Keep your sphincters clenched, people. Nick will soon be set loose in a hospital near you.—Lewis
Scourge of the Salsa Shark
If you’ve never run with nomadic Minneapolis salsa dancing crowd, you should. Any night of the week you can find a club or two with a dance floor packed with a DJ spinning or a band throbbing out languid Latin rhythms at an undulating crowd of expert to entry-level dancers. Since the salsa invasion, Minnesota is a much sexier place.
You don’t salsa? Learning is easy. If you’re a female, wear some strappy shoes, stand at the edge of the dance floor and when a sweaty man you’ve never met before asks you to dance, don’t say no. If you’re a beginner with no salsa skillz and a Y chromosome—like I was—women are not likely to want to have their feet stepped on, no matter what shoes you wear, while they take the time to teach you. In that case the remedy is to find some salsa veterans who are resting on the sidelines, buy them a round and ask them about the basic step. You’re bound to get some useful pointers. If you’re self-conscious: buy a couple rounds.
Here’s a woefully inadequate Minneapolis salsa schedule:
Monday: El Nuevo Rodeo, Babalu
Tuesday: Famous Dave’s
Wednesday: La Bodega, The Quest
Thursday: The Times, Babalu, Conga
Friday: Tiburon, Babalu, Conga
Saturday: Loring Pasta Bar, Babalu, Conga
Sunday: Café Lurcat
I have been going out to salsa periodically for the last three years. It’s always a fun experience and a decent workout once you get reasonably good at it. Also, it’s almost never boring. I’ve been wrongly kicked out of clubs, ditched downtown, mocked by off-duty strippers, extorted by bouncers but have only once had a bad time.
On Friday salsa nights, the Caribbean restaurant Tiburon is packed to the gills with dancing, alcohol-buzzed bodies weaving between each other. With a live band and a giant fish tank with baby sharks and other strange marine life serenely coasting through neon-lit salt water the ambiance is undeniable. A tank near the men’s room houses giant goldfish who wriggle their chubby tails to the music like aquatic, mouth-breather salsa Buddhas.
But one night at Tiburon my salsa experience went sour.
The after closing-time food service clique buzz is that Tiburon is on its way out. The menu is apparently not holding water and it sure doesn’t rake in much cash on Fridays due to the high-energy dance crowd’s tendency to chug water and not much else. But perhaps it’s additionally due to what we’ll call the GI-badness factor—and that’s not GI as in Army, folks.
On Friday at Tiburon after medicating a nearly terminal case of image insecurity with serial gin and tonic treatments, I ended up crashing into a group of non-dancer former colleagues who were sitting far from the dance floor, taking advantage of the open-late kitchen to pig out on crusty appetizers. When offered, I accepted a few non-descript chunks of something—perhaps fried—that might have spent it’s life in a shell on the ocean floor singing show-tunes with a red-head mermaid in a bikini or having hilarious but poignant adventures with an Ellen DeGeneres-voiced angle fish or participating in any of the other various phantasms that now must haunt the sleep of Mr. Walt Disney’s death. It’s all I ate that evening. And by the almost morning time of night my lower gastro-intestinal tract was in full revolt. Sitting on the toilet suffering the vengeance of an anthropomorphic appetizer, I could not help calling into question my superiority on the food chain.
People talk about the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. When I think about the amount of alcohol and stomach acid the toxic pathogens had to swim through before invoking the wrath of their evil microbial gods on my lower GI track, I realize the human race may have a very frail hold on superiority.
Now there’s no way to absolutely tell it was those appetizers. It could have been the food I’d grazed out of the vending machines on the campus of the U of M college of science and engineering. Of course I’ve been living out of vending machines for four years and have never gotten dysentery before. I wonder if my former colleagues also spent their night sitting on porcelain. Far be it from me to wish ill on any establishment that fuels the Minneapolis salsa inferno, but I if that place goes down it might not just be due to the high cost of fish food.
Scourge aside, the salsa life may be a little less adventurous in the near future. With rumors leaking about plans for a downtown salsa-dedicated club from some of the partiers in the mayor’s office, the Minneapolis salsa corps may get a home venue before the Twins do.