So the HotHouse Operations Board (whom I like to refer to as the "junior " board) threw their first big fundraising shindig last night. The turnout wasn't all that was expected but still respectable. If I don't mic another rum punch again it'll be too soon.
Dance lessons were given by the ubiquitous Tina Mangos. Tina's been teaching dance around town for what seems like forever- at HotHouse; in the Fieldhouse in Jefferson Park; in Glenview; various Elks Lodges around the area. She has a unique approach to teaching dance that has evolved over the years, I assume. Currently her teaching style combines light niggling of students with unsolicited embarrassing stream-of-consciousness information, all delivered in an accent that brings back vivid memories of growing up on the Northwest Side of the city. It's a passive-aggressive pas de deux between Tina and her class. I liken it to an overprotective mother who won't let her son have his first dance with his new wife.
She was firing on all cylinders last night. Tina's lessons usually entail basic steps suitable for all the popular Latin Dance styles. This allows her students to have some familiarity with the music without wondering if they're dancing the wrong steps to the wrong music. They're already feeling self-conscious as it is without having to wonder if they're using cumbia steps to a cha-cha. Tina likes to lightly rib her students, but she demands total attention once the lesson begins. I've witnessed many occasions where she's called out someone for having a conversation while she's trying to teach a class. When she does, you smile, but you know she just chastised you.
Last night it started with a cell phone ringing while she was teaching some rumba steps. It was the familiar Nokia ring tone cutting loud and clear through the dance floor. Tina stopped in mid step and turned in the ddirection of the ring. "Is that a cell phone?" She asked metaphorically, then she pounced. "We have a brain surgeon in the house! Quck! Answer the phone! Your patient's hemorrhaging!!" the light sense of unease among the students was palpable, and Tina let out a nervous cackle to break the tension and let them know that she demanded their complete attention. "It's 'left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot, and turn.' It's like 'lather, rinse, repeat', okay?"
Later she lined up people for a merengue. "Now if you're from the Dominican Republic this dance can be called a punta," she snapped. The way she dropped the n and said the word with relish gave the impression that she was calling some of the female dance students whores. Again, more stares were shared between partners.
Then she volunteered after that particularly spirited merengue that she was "sweating like a pig." By this time our cocktail server for the evening had picked up on all of this. In short order the two of us were coming up with increasingly outlandish commentary, stuff like "these support hose are really slimming," or "I was told that these shoes would breathe and I wouldn't get yellow toenails."
Boss lady came over after the dance essons for a glass of water. She had been looking over at us during the lessons, wondering if we were making fun of her. "Pretty good workout," she said.
"It isn't a dance lesson until she starts insulting the class," I said. Her smile dropped almost immediately and she went back to the dance floor wondering if she would be the next target of Tina Magos' barbs.