I’ve been going to salsa Wednesdays at El Aguijón for two years now. This is my favorite place to go dancing. I know a ton of the regulars who dance there. Actually I’m one of the regulars who dances there! El Aguijón has become my second home in Quito, and is one of the things I will miss most when I leave Ecuador.
This year they’ve occasionally had guest DJs play for an hour or so on Wednesdays. I thought that sounded kind of fun, and eventually worked up the nerve to ask Galo, the manager, how I might be able to be one of the invited DJs. His response? “Done! Give me your phone number!” It was that easy.
I agonized for WEEKS over my playlist. I got advice from friends. I got advice from DJs. I organized and reorganized my songs. Did I have a good mix of tempos? Did I balance salsa Cubana with Colombian and Puerto Rican songs? Did I have a nice selection of classic and new stuff? Would people like my music and dance to it?
When I arrived at the club early on the night of my DJ debut, I was so nervous. My friends could even tell I was nervous when they were dancing with me. Stick me in front of an auditorium of 500 English teachers and I can easily present for an hour, no sweat. Stick me in a DJ booth at one of the best night clubs in Quito and I’m a giggly jittery mess. No one could understand this. But teaching English – and training teachers how to teach English? That’s my THING. I’ve studied that and practiced that for years. I KNOW that field. Salsa? I’ve really just been in this “field” for a couple years. I didn’t grow up listening to salsa music. I still have to look up which groups are Cuban or Colombian or Puerto Rican, because I can’t just tell. I don’t understand all the lyrics to all the songs. And people generally think (rightfully so) that a gringa doesn’t know much, if anything, about salsa. I was sticking my neck out by getting up in front of a crowd with my selection of songs.
But I did it.
And people danced.
I’m pretty sure this will be one of my best memories from Ecuador. I’m pretty sure this will be one of my best memories, period.