'The dance floor was packed with couples, all salsa-shuffling to a live Cuban band - and every man in the room appeared to be ... enjoying himself.'
FIVE words a man never wants to hear from his woman: ''Want to go salsa dancing?'' Five words a woman never wants to hear from her man: ''Not interested, I don't dance.'' Five words a man never wants to hear from his woman: ''But I've already bought tickets.'' Five words a woman never wants to hear from her man: ''$%$#! … $%$#! … seriously? … awwwwwwww … $%$#!''
Roughly 145,000 years from now, the fossil record will show that two types of men coexisted simultaneously during our present epoch: there was the regular primitive Australopithecus Arrhythmicus, characterised by his clumsy gait, non-opposable feet, and total inability to keep a beat to anything more complicated than Queen's We Will Rock You. And there was the emergence of a more highly advanced man, the Africanus-Cubanus Mambo-Man, equipped with biological adaptations that allowed him to swivel his hips, cha-cha in rhythm, and do that pushy-outty bum thing when he dances, which looks a bit effeminate now but in 145,000 years will be all the rage.
This will prove to be a monumental turning point in male evolution, finally answering that long-debated question on Austereo radio networks: are we human or are we dancer?
So we went to the Latin Dance Fiesta, a big social-dancing event held in a warehouse in the Hispanic district of Bentleigh East, famed for its sultry aura, exotic vibe, and accredited smash repair insurance centres. The dance floor was packed with couples, all salsa-shuffling to a live Cuban band - and every man in the room appeared to be … enjoying himself. Like he actually WANTED to move to music in public! - what kind of men or beasts were these?
My beloved dragged me to the middle of the floor and immediately starting salsa-ing, losing herself in the rhythm and vibe, and I knew I had to make an effort - not just to please her, but because the band was called Carlito's Way, and I'd seen the movie with Al Pacino, so I didn't want to get crowbarred in the face by someone named Benny Blanco from the Bronx, capisce?
But I couldn't do it, couldn't salsa: I am not physically built for co-ordinated movement - my inflexible pelvis is designed only for slouching on couches, my primate vertebrae are permanently buckled for carrying the weight of the world. And my undeveloped brain could not handle the tricky foot-stepping salsa-patterns, I had to concentrate on the maths: FRONT, 2, 3, BACK, 2, 3, LEFT, 2, 3, RIGHT 2, 3. She said, ''Try not to count out loud while you're dancing,'' and I said, ''Sorry,'' and just counted silently, then she said, ''And try to dance with your tongue inside your mouth.'' I nodded stupidly, my rudimentary facial muscles unable to express complex emotions like regret and self-loathing.
Driving home in the car after the dance, she said five words a man never wants to hear from his woman: ''Men who dance are sexy!'' Then came five words a woman never wants to hear from her man: ''Yeah, such pert little buns.'' And I knew then and there that my man species was facing imminent extinction: we could not compete with Mambo-man and his colourful mating display and his 360-degree gyro-reticulating extendo-buttocks.
When I got home I slouched on the couch, indulging in the only salsa moves I will ever excel in: dipping corn chips into a jar of Old El Paso Chunky Tomato Dip. DIP, 2, 3, BITE 2, 3, DIP 2, 3, BITE, 2, 3. Even with this, I still have to count out loud.