Interview: Monday morning

I keep leaping on to the good foot and failing to make it back to start position in one piece. This, of course, brings out the machismo in every furious Latino in the room ...
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Janek makes me go to his Salsa class. I know we'll end up dishing dirt with our elbows on a table later, so despite the fact that I'd rather be chewing my cuticles, I find myself trying to copy some dinky little people with curled lips and serious attitudes. Small women are always better at this ballroom nonsense. This has less to do with their stature than the fact that tall girls are always forced to dance boy as pre-teens (how's that for conditioning?) and never learn to go backwards.

I know people think Salsa is sexy, but I can't see it. Bum out; heels together; girls, do what your man tells you: if I'd wanted to do what my man told me, I'd have been born in Iran, thanks.

Waggle the shoulders, forward-together, back-together. This sort of dancing brings out the emotions that school did: resentment of rules, and a knowledge that it would all get better when I left. Shoulders forward, hips forward, side-together, side-together. Women around me are practising their pouts and their angry Hispanic eyes; they look like Lupe Velez, the "Mexican spitfire" - and who wants to end up the way she did, marrying Johnny Weissmuller and drowning in a lavatory?

Now we have to do it with partners, and things get worse. The torn ligaments in my ankle scream every time I spin, so I keep leaping on to the good foot and failing to make it back to start position in one piece. This, of course, brings out the machismo in every furious Latino in the room. One after another they march over to show me the error of my ways, and their English is too weak to explain. I resort to holiday pidgin: "Non es que non comprendo. Es que la pata es - AIE!" One after another, they frown, go "No. I show you", and repeat the step with added rage and contempt.

Hopping along Regent Street, I tell Janek about the brilliant advertising seminar about youth consumer attitudes that I've just been to, which suggested that Ireland is losing its magical realist image as an ideal state, and that the next likely hot-spot for advertising backdrops is Latin America.

"Why?" he asks.

"Loads of things. They think Latinos have a hedonistic tendency."

"That'll be giving up subsistence crops in favour of cocaine production."

"They know how to have fun."

"But darling, shooting street children is fun."

"Good lives and laid-back attitudes."

We pause.

"Sandinistas eat babies," we say together.

Still, I guess the Salsa explosion is proof, if ever there were one, that you will never get poor by overestimating the ignorance of the consumer.

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