el lugar mas caliente

so claimed the red neon lights hanging above the stage and casting their promise onto the dance floor.  for those who dont speak spanish, it reads: the hottest spot.  we’d been invited out for a night of drinking and dancing by one of lesley and zach’s co-workers, a beautiful mexican woman named eva.  and the “hottest spot” was an authentic mexican night club called marisela’s.

we were a little late, but not as late as eva and her friends.  she asked to meet at a nearby restaurant, obviously anxious for us not to walk into the club by ourselves, the only three gringos in a sea of cowboy boots and surface machismo.  as we walked in, all the men were frisked with metal detectors as the women walked freely into the center of the action.  grabbing a couple of drinks, lesley, zach and i lost the rest of our group, but found them quickly and realized our single beers were for chumps.  the rest of the night, the beer came in buckets and everyone shared.  in fact, we were teased and challenged to help down the many buckets worth of beer.

not long after we were seated a man came up to the table looking for a single lady to dance with.  i was the only one without an escort so i jumped up and onto the dance floor with eric.  with my slightly awkward first dance under my belt i loosened up a little and awaited the next invitation.  i ended up dancing with the boyfriend of one of the women we were with and then spent the rest of the night dancing with luis–a sweet partner and a great lead who told me i was a great dancer–better than many mexican women, he boasted.

the dance floor was crowded and lesley described it as “a human version of bumper cars” because you were constantly bouncing off of each other.  but it was wonderful and there was a camaraderie on the dance floor that made everything easier and more exciting. between sets by the band, american songs would come out of the speakers and the dancing became slightly more caricature-esque as we mixed mexican hips with american shimmies and everyone laughed at each other.

and i found the culture much less threatening and dehumanizing than i’m used to in american night clubs.  i am familiar with a club scene in which all the single women start on the floor, moving their hips to attract the men that circle them, waiting to come from behind and start dancing without asking.  and while there was a very clear sense of being “the men” and “the women,”  the courtliness of the scene was such a relief.  there isn’t a predatory or powerless feeling about the gender dynamics that presented in marisela’s.

after a few hours of straight dancing, lesley, zach and i left in search of some early morning breakfast to soak up some of the alcohol and exhaustion running through our veins.  we found a 24 hour diner and excitedly discussed the night.  the fear that eva’s initial hesitation had instilled in our awkward cultural border crossing quickly dissipated in the friendliness of the people around us.  it was likely easier for me, as a woman, who needed only to be asked and led on the dance floor.  when i questioned zach about his experience as a man, he recounted the story of re-entering the club and being asked by a very macho presenting man if he was enjoying himself.  when zach reassured him that he was, the man flashed a smile and was clearly glad to hear it.

i think we’ll go back for next saturday night’s fun and debauchery.  i promised eva’s aunt that i would, at least.  and i am excited to keep my word.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. paxus
    Feb 14, 2011 @ 01:19:30

    When i talk to anti-oppression activists the thing that they oft say is that they are not especially excited about coming to white dominated and organized events on racism and oppression and would prefer that whites come to their venues and events, if they want to take on these issues.

    i can completely see you there. Child of stomp and having been the only white face in your high school dance troop.

    love the story value and that you are out crusading at this frontiers.


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