Southern Idaho Salsa Saga

Saturday, March 26, 2005, 03:15 PM
My ten days in Southern Idaho have been quite a trip. Last Saturday night I ventured into a sandwich shop that turns into one of the few places you can dance to salsa music in Idaho, the Boise Cafe. Who is it that I meet but a guy named Tony, from New York, who is not Puerto Rican but Dominican and Cuban. He kind of looked liked a cousin on mine! He walked up to me and laid out his biggest mack:

You are very tall, and very beautiful.


Again, with he looking like a cousin of mine I couldn’t really take this statement seriously. I laughed that polite laugh (why do we go to clubs anyway?? ugh!) and quickly realized he WAS funny and the laugh became genuine. Only a New Yorker would be so blunt, which I understand. Life is short, don’t beat around the bush. I made the “I have a boyfriend” statement, then I thanked him. Hey, I can take a compliment. We chatted about New York, he says he knows Fat Joe, who I want to include in the project. Then I asked him how he ended up in Idaho.
Silence and vague mumbling.


I hope you’re not running from the law, or worse, a woman!
So we danced and I remembered my habit of not following (sound familar ladies?) and kept laughing at myself, this very tall Latina dancing in Boise Idaho on a Saturday night looking for Boricuas to photograph. Sometimes the photos you imagine to exist in the world just aren’t there. Life usually brings you something unexpected and much more interesting. Thank God.

So I am in this dark sandwich shop waiting for the salsa lesson portion of the evening to be over when I began chatting with two Latinas who were smiling as wide as I was. See, you have to be really encouraging to people who are new to salsa dancing. (Hell, I have to encourage myself half the time…) Its hard enough to be dancing when people are staring at you, let alone moving your body to beats that are totally foreign to your upbringing. This is a polite way of pointing out that those of us humans that are not of the Latin pursuasion are not always natural salsa dancers. Well, damn I already found an exception in Mo from Seattle who is a scary good salsa dancer and he’s Jewish. So forget what I just typed.
Anyhow, there was a large crowd of young Idahoians (is that real word?) dancing, some of whom had taken salsa lessons from the instructors who run the salsa show. Very cute!

The owner of the sandwich shop, well, that’s a whole other story. After I introduced myself and explained my purpose (pointing to my large camera bag) he proceeded to tell me he was from Italy, went to Harvard and transferred to NYU, and is an international kickboxing champion. Well, okay, achievement is wonderful to share with others, but perfect strangers? Again, I was polite. I was still looking for Puerto Ricans. Eventually I found ONE, courtesy of the Kickboxing Champion, but he was too busy trying to get his groove on to discuss his starting an ISP in Boise a few years ago. Apparently HP has a large contingent of Boricua engineers from the island that work in Southern Idaho for 2-5 year stints. Idaho is quite the tech state, which I didn’t know. Interesting, as you can’t get much farther away from La Isla than Boise.


One Response to “Southern Idaho Salsa Saga”

  1. Wanda says:

    Gracias Oolong Tea! If you’d like to stay in touch, I post a bit more often on American Boricua’s facebook page:

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