xi
Preface
HOW TO MAKE IT
TO THE DANCE FLOOR IN LOS ANGELES
This
salsa story began in October 1999,
when some graduate students from
ucla, Collette and Stephanie, were grumbling to me about the previous Saturday
night; they had spent it at El Reino de la Salsa in Hollywood.1 No one had asked
them to dance, so they danced with each other, feeling like complete outsiders.
When I asked them to recommend a place to go dancing (I was new in town),
they warned me not to go to El Reino de la Salsa if I hoped to dance. The people
there, they said, were unfriendly and stuck up and had not even acknowledged
their presence. But I had also heard from a male acquaintance that El Reino de la
Salsa was one of the best salsa clubs in Los Angeles, known for its live music and
Cuban salsa. He felt as though he belonged to the “salsa family” that had emerged
within this club’s intimate setting. I decided to try my luck at this place, given my
interest in finding a Latino-based dance club in which to root my L.A. social life
as well as my ethnographic inquiry.
I had illusions of inviting Collette and Stephanie back to the club once I
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