Saturday, July 4, 2009

Why all of those British comedies suddenly make sense, or, "Salsa in Oxford"

I should begin with a sincere regret that I lack photographic evidence of this evening's shinanigans (in its stead, I offer a sign we passed on our second adventure, one which will make sense soon). As many of you know, I've been on a quest to discover the UK salsa scene--London or, if need be, Oxford. Since we missed our London window, Emily, Marlo, and I decided to try our luck in Oxfordshire.

Oh, and did we get lucky. Simply put, what can be more delightful than taking a local bus to a strange intersection ("Barracks Lane" and "Hollow Way"--who needs Dickens when we have streets like that), only to be rewarded with our destination: Lord Sheffield (Heffield?? Holfield?? difference) Club. Think: VFW Hall meets YMCA meets lower rung country club...with a good smathering of suburban British types.

Once inside said "hall," we were greeted by a woman at the front desk who said, "Oh, hello. Are you here for the communion?" Me, fighting back laughter: "Uh,, no. Not the communion...didn't know about that. Salsa, something with salsa?"

Discovering that we had 45 minutes before the adventure really began, we did what any normal group of women waiting for a salsa night at a suburban Oxford VFW/YMCA (on the 4th of July, no less) might do: we hit the bar. There, we encountered the Russian bartender. I'll call him Max. Max, as we soon found out, was "filling in" for a friend, which became rather clear as Marlo had to resort to her seventh choice of drinks because Max hadn't exactly gone through the Ivy League of bartending schools. Once we had our proper beverages of choice, we wandered to the "outside garden" area only to discover said communion, complete with a tempting spread of hamburgers and hot dogs. I'm convinced it was the universe teasing us for being in England on the 4th of July. We squeezed into our picnic table and drank, contemplating a day where we might have worn red, white, and blue and flaunted our freedom from British colonial oppression...clearly something we didn't follow through with.

And then we took our salsa lessons, danced, laughed, drank a little more British ale, and took turns "shaking our groove thang" on the disco-bus we inadvertently caught to take us home to "Teddy Hall" (not before weaving amongst the drunk Oxfordians to get to "Ahmad's Bar B Q" and a delicious late-night falafel). A successful night had by all, thanks especially to Lord Neffield, Max, the disco-bus, and Ahmad.

Addendum: Marlo has poignantly reminded me of one additional crucial tidbit from our salsa-rific evening. We had a UFO citing while waiting for the disco bus in the freezing night air. Really. A UFO. Hovering above Oxford. Beat that.

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