Bachata music is the R&B of the Dominican Republic. Some are seduced by its melodic tune while others repel its sappy lyrics and repetitiveness. Those who find it appealing blast bachata through car speakers, swaying to the light beat as they wait for a green light. Women scream and grown men weep as Romeo sings a bachata ballad in his high pitched and effeminate tone. The most inspired of all call into music stations, like La Mega, and send requests to a loved one, to the one that got away or the bastard that broke their heart.
Play “Obsesion” for my boo, please.
By its essence alone, I, “The Latina Carrie Bradshaw,” should love bachata. The often romantic lyrics of love, heartbreak and sexual passion should move me to pick up a bottle of Bacardi and drunk dial an ex-lover because son las cinco de la mañana! But bachata does the opposite. I hear the requinto guitar and want to throw it out a window. I storm off the dance floor mid-step – dance partner left behind – when a bachata is thrown into the song mix. I fight the urge to scream, “SHUT UP!” when a man I am dating says, “We should go bachata dancing!”
That’s exactly what Mr. Clever requested while discussing our third date. And, somehow, I agreed. I was already pushing past my comfort zone, trying online dating. And dating a man who I wasn’t sure I was physically attracted to. So why not expand my horizons some more and go to a bachata club?
Yes, a bachata club. As in bachata music all…night…long.
Mr. Clever and I decided to meet at 11pm on a Saturday night. I entered Cache alone, looking dazzling with a pair of black boots and a royal purple dress that hit my knees. I called him immediately but his phone went to voicemail. Maybe it’s the reception, I thought. Cache was located deep in a basement. It reminded me of the dark halls that are used to celebrate tacky Latino baby showers. Exposed pipes and folding tables and chairs the only decor. I made my way outside again, trying to get better service. I called again. Phone went straight to voicemail a second time. Frustrated, I wondered it this was a sign of things to come. I was already sacrificing too much, dancing bachata all night long. Did I really want to go on a hunt for Mr. Clever?
Apparently, I can take a lot more torture than most women.
I walked back downstairs and asked the hostess if I could walk around.
“You can, but the cover is ten dollars,” she responded.
“A cover?” I retorted, seemingly annoyed, as if she had just asked Princess Catherine to pay her way. She nodded. I asked if I could just take a look around. She nodded again and off I went to find Mr. Clever.
It didn’t take long. I saw him by the bar, donning his typical black button down shirt and square hair cut. I greeted him with a kiss hello though I was already annoyed. He explained his phone had died and I felt I’d heard that excuse before. Once we chatted for a few seconds, I told him I had yet to pay a cover. We walked to the front of Cache and, as I walked to the hostess, he stayed three feet behind. Mr. Clever didn’t even attempt to pay my ten dollar cover. He didn’t flinch when I opened my black clutch, pulled out my wallet and handed over a ten dollar bill. He also didn’t pay my two dollar coat check.
By the time we made it to the dance floor, I was completely turned off. Still, he asked for a dance. I asked for a drink.
He had to pay for something.
A bachata I didn’t care to recall played and he we began our two step, drink in hand. And I mean it was a two-step. Though Mr. Clever prided himself on taking salsa and bachata lessons to “improve his skills,” he had no skills! I felt like I was dancing with a drunk gringo who tries to impress a Latina with an “Hola!” and stiff spin. As he almost tore off my arm, I thought, what man doesn’t pay a cover charge for a woman on the third date? When he commented that I didn’t spin fast enough, I questioned, what kind of man doesn’t even try? I averted eye contact and realized the chemistry felt during our second date was gone. The passion that is felt when two people dance cheek-to-cheek to a bachata was nonexistent. While he danced without rhythm and my palms grew clammy, I knew that this man, this potential something, didn’t consider me at all.
Because I paid to dance a two-step and listen to a genre of music that I hated…all…night…long.