I met Luisa from Couchsurfing on a Friday night outside the Industriales metro station. The plan was to go dancing but I didn´t know where. She assured me it would be fun. To my surprise, she was with two friends, including Catalina (black shirt) the birthday girl. They were all wearing silly hats and carrying balloons.
We went to the Kukaramakara Club, arriving early while the place was still empty. Much of the lower floor was already reserved, so we took a table upstairs in a corner with a good view of the club. As typically occurs in Colombian bars and clubs, a bottle or two of liquor is ordered for the table, usually rum or aguardiente (a black anise flavored liquor wildly popular down here, and relatively cheap).
In the beginning, we were able to talk, however as the live band hit the stage, it was more about just having a good time. The music switched between multiple genres regularly. One song salsa, the next meringue, then reggaeton, vallanato, tropical pop, and so on. Each genre had its own dance steps or style, and I got tips from all of Luisa's friends with regard to dancing to each.
As for the salsa lessons I took back in Washington, DC…well they were all but irrelevant. The people dancing in the club looked nothing like what we did in a dance studio. In fact, my prior salsa experience seems downright mechanical by comparison. The level of skill shown by Luisa and some of her friends was jaw dropping. She tried to make me feel a little better by saying that they grow up dancing, and it simply requires practice. At the same time, I felt completely at ease. In the USA, good dancers seem to be looking for attention, while in Colombia, almost everyone is a good dancer, and they are clearly just out to have some fun. As a gringo, I know there are no expectations, and it makes it a lot easier for me to have a good time on the dance floor!