I was wondering how many gay or lesbian Salseros you know. Because Salsa is such a male-female arrangement (as most couples dances are I suppose) I suspect that gay salseros must be in hiding. I certainty wouldn't expect them to dance with members of their own gender in mainstream settings (although women seem to be able to get away with this without anyone freaking out).
I once had the privilege of going to a gay Salsa club in Queens, NY while on vacation (itwas across the street from where my Cuban partner grew up). Some gay latinos are so effected my machismo that even THEY can't bring themselves to dance Salsa with another guy!
For me Salsa dancing isn't as much about sex as it is a celebration of music and rhythm and the fact that I can share that with someone male or female makes it even better! Now if I want to Salsa dance for "show" then I would prefer to dance with a woman and I relish the masculine role and her femininity. Being gay doesn't mean that I don't like women nor does it mean that I don't like being a man. I don't know if it is because I am actually bisexual but I enjoy the masculine role in Salsa dancing and I enjoy dancing with a beautiful woman. Still I would like to create a space for my gay (especially gay Latino) brothers and sisters who want to celebrate their cultural and sexuality at the same time.
How many gay folks in the Salsa scene do you know...and how bad do they suffer? Are they able to find gay Salsa clubs? How many are able to hide their sexuality?
Let me know if you can. Muchas gracias Edie
- Salsero del Ambiente - Salsero del Ambiente"
Dear Salsero del Ambiente,
In an attempt to answer you, as I do most "I have traveled throughout many of the world’s Salsa clubs, both mainstream, and by-ways, and have come to a single conclusion:
No matter who you are, gay, lesbian, or straight, the feelings that Latin music brings about, knows no boundaries.
The problem is.....
…. and their interpretations of the dance, how they see YOU interpret the dance, their upbringing, their families, their hang-ups, and their experiences, which in turn, define their beliefs, which in some cases, cause suffering and pain on others, such as yourself.
Partner dancing affects both parties. No matter who you are, if you come across interpreting the dance in a different way than what others are accustomed to, they will feel offended or shy away, and find others who are just like them to share with.
Salsa dancing as a couple is a wonderful experience. I certainly agreed with your "…celebration of music and rhythm… " statement. Wonderfully put! The Latin sounds and the feelings it gives your mind, body, and soul is indescribable when on the dance floor, especially when both partners are dancing in harmony, and as one, with the music.
However, when partner dancing, there is a natural order of things. There is a leader and a follower. In the straight world, we tend to agree that the leader will be the man. In the gay and lesbian world, we find out that this is not always the case.
When I got your letter, I went to a Gay club here in Los Angeles, pulled it out, and discussed your anonymous letter with many gay male Salseros and they gave me some very interesting insight:
I found many people who didn’t appear to be suffering at all. Through word-of-mouth, and various advertisements. They all danced and were having a great time. To tell you the truth, it looked like all the other Salsa clubs I’d been to. I saw no "suffering" per se, on the surface. The only suffering that I witnessed was trying to find women who could lead well, which is a Universal problem in itself.
After I got there, and danced a few songs, I thought it was great because I could practice my leading skills on other women – what little I have of them!
In the straight world, I found that the caliber of dancing was much more intensified, due to the competitive nature of "who looks best" on the dance floor. When I visited the gay and lesbian clubs however, I found that the social aspect was more evident. People didn’t really "care" if you could lead well, they were just happy to be dancing! The problem that YOU have my friend, is being a "machismo" man, in a gay club.
The bottom line:
I tell this to my female friends who insist upon wearing their "Man Coat" to a club. All day long, they were "in the seat of power" and need to take that crap off when you go Salsa dancing. You need to become the "follower" again - the sensual, steamy hot "water" of this picture. Let "him" be your "rock" where you can lay your head to rest upon.
If you were to walk into a club, as a man, and want to be asked to dance, by another man, you need to show your weaker side, bottom line. You cannot be more "male" than the man asking you. They will be intimidated by your machismo attitude, and because you are bi-sexual, they may think you are not gay, are there to beat them up or humiliate them, and will shy away from you. The bottom line, is that,
... you can’t just walk in there, all macho-like,
and expect to be asked to dance by another man.
and expect to be asked to dance by another man.
It just won’t happen.
The same holds true with females who don’t know each other. I found the majority of the female dance "leaders" so-to-speak, played more of a male role than their counterparts in almost every situation. It wasn’t until I was formally introduced to other women, that they started to ask me to dance.
My experience was that during various dances, I would lead part of the song, and then we would switch roles, and they would lead, and then we switched back… It was REAL confusing when I was dancing with a guy who wanted to be led on occasion. We would switch leading, back and forth, so much that we almost collided several times during the song!
To answer your second question, "How many are able to hide their sexuality? " What was a pleasant surprise, was finding people at these clubs that I had known for YEARS from the straight clubs!
"Edie... What are you doing here?" They would ask.
"I’m on assignment.!! What are YOU doing here?" I would answer.
"You mean… you didn’t know?"
- Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!