Salsa love in the time of COVID-19 – Chapter 1


Salsa love in the time of COVID-19

By Dena Burroughs


Chapter 1 – “Y todo comenzó bailando.”

COVID-19 may as well have ripped Ani’s heart out of her very chest. Forget the lungs, the virus had just killed her vampire style – with a stake directly into the heart.

In the two years since she’d danced Salsa, she’d never felt the connection that she’d felt last Saturday. She’d never danced so many times with one same guy. She’d never felt her feet move with better ease.

Costa Rican Carlos was cute like a button, a great dancer, and a Salsero that she’d managed to miss for two years somehow. She was so happy to have lived dangerously on Saturday evening. She’d been this close to staying home, well, with the scare of the virus and all, but Floriditas was still open and she’d gone for it. “I’ll fight the virus with various dosages of rum and mint,” she’d thought to herself, planning ahead to Floridita’s famous mojitos. Rumors said that Coronavirus hates alcohol and heat, which incidentally also sounded to her like a brilliant reason to be in the Caribbean just about now.

They’d danced the night away and they’d gone for tacos afterwards. They talked and laughed, exchanged phone numbers and connected on Instagram, and at the end of the night he’d asked if she’d like to dance together in the upcoming weekend. “Floriditas was a good time tonight, right?” he’d said. “How about we do it again this Friday?” She’d said yes without even thinking. She’d been working from home for a week now on account of COVID-19, but at that moment the virus didn’t even cross her mind.

And now… here she is on Thursday evening watching a Facebook live feed of Mayor Garcetti announcing that all bars and clubs in Los Angeles will stop operations this very evening. “Damn you COVID-19!” she said out loud. “You suck!”

Around 5 pm she got the text she’d been expecting. She’d been texting back and forth with Carlos every day since last weekend, always around lunchtime and after five o’clock so she’s pretty sure that he’s still working. “Maybe he’s a doctor,” she thought… “or maybe he’s a stocker at Walmart… No way to know really since both things are considered ‘essential functions’ in these crazy times of COVID-19.”

Guess we not going to Floriditas tomorrow,” read his text.

Guess not,” she answered, sad emoji included.

I’d invite u to come over 2 my place,” he wrote, “but I guess we supposed 2 be social distancing…

Yeah, u better not be around me too much,” she responded. “I may have Coronavirus for all u know!”

Naaah,” he wrote. “If anybody has Corona, it’ll be me. I’m out there all day long.

Oh no! Wash ur hands!

I just did. And took a shower. Sooooo…,” he continued, “do u want 2 Facetime instead?

Sure,” she wrote, feeling both embarrassed and silly for some reason. “We can do that. But u better not ask me to dance over here all by myself!

I’ll tell u what,” Carlos offered. “Get urself some wine and I’ll do the same. We’ll have a drink, tell each other about our week, and listen 2 some music. How is dat?

Salsa, right?” she asked. “I hope that u know about singers and songs, because I know very little. Since I don’t understand the lyrics, I’m in it for the feels. I recognize the melodies of many songs, but don’t ask me for titles because we’re doomed.

I got ya’,” he wrote. “I have a Spotify playlist with close to 500 songs. We could listen to Salsa for hours if we wanted to, and I’d love to tell u what the lyrics say. Some of them are really funny!

Great! And what shall be our first song, Mr. DJ Carlos?” Ani teased.

Our very first song will be a classic,” he answered. “It’s from a major Salsero that you need to know about – Frankie Ruiz.

Cool! What’s the title?” she asked.

“Y todo comenzó bailando.”