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I don’t do salsa. I’m allergic to merengue.

I know this music should easily course through my veins given my roots and my irrevocable DNA. (I’m not talking about the Dirty Dancing lambada craze that afflicted us during the late 80s. I’m talking about the grit and power of Celia Cruz and others like her that define the genre.)

What should come naturally — twirling, dipping and spicy, quick foot work – well, I actually deliver it haltingly, and blandly. A watered down version of the original. If witnessed, I am certain my predecessors would shudder.

This weekend we attended a traditional coming of age, debutante ball: a Quinces. The dance floor filled each time a salsa or merengue song was heard. Dancers of every age, every age, filled each square inch of the dance floor. Couples effortlessly danced in synchronized union. I tried my best to keep up with Blas and not step on his shoes.

Thanks to his parents, my husband’s roots are deeply and firmly entrenched in our shared culture. He can hang with the best of them, and not skip a beat. On one of our first dates we went dancing, and Blas taught me the very basic of salsa and merengue. He assured me that if I could get those cha-cha-cha dance steps in place, I could wing it at any Cuban party. Perhaps it was the novelty of the dance moves mixed with the fluidity in which he danced, but, that night is etched in my mind as one of our loveliest ever.

Nine years later I am still trying to wing it. I must practice. I want to twirl with the best of them and have my husband look at me appreciatively as my skirt whirls and my body understands the rhythm of my forefathers. I have vowed to teach my kids (well, for Blas to teach the kids) how to dance this beautifully rhythmic music.

As for myself, I hope to take salsa lessons in 2010. I am committed. My poor husband deserves a dance partner.

December 7, 2009