Muy Caliente, Baby!

Our denizens of the dark get singed by the hot chicas and fly papis at Club Bash's Noche de Salsa

Her name is Kimberly Mai, 23, and she's a loan officer with Centex Home Equity in Tempe. Mai's of Vietnamese descent, and she tells me that she learned to salsa dance at ASU about two years ago. (Because of its proximity to ASU, a lot of salsa students practice at Club Bash, apparently.) The dude's name is Jack Dunn, 26, a salsa instructor, who gets to travel all over the world teaching and competing.

"I used to be part of a dance company, but not anymore," Mai explains. "I prefer performing to competing. I don't really like to compete. I stay in practice by going out a lot."

"Then this isn't a hookup thing for you?" asks Jett. "You just really like to dance."

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"Ah, she just wants to get laid," jokes her friend and dance partner, Jack.

"There you go," she says, laughing. Hopefully reading my mind, she continues, "Would you like to 'mambo' with me? That'd be a good pickup line."

Then, dashing my faint hopes, she says, "Nah, really, when I go out to dance, I love to just dance, not to meet people, at least not in that sense."

Dunn tells us he's been dancing for four years, and that he'll be traveling to Beijing soon to teach salsa to the Chinese.

"I'll be going in July to teach for six months at a studio there. They want to learn how to dance salsa and mambo."

"Wow, how do you snag a job like that?" I ask.

"Different connections," he replies. "A lot of people in the salsa/mambo world know each other. I found out they were looking for an instructor, sent a résumé and a tape of me performing, and they hired me."

"Does knowing salsa help you meet chicks, Jack?" inquires my lesbian co-pilot.

"Well, I will say if you know how to dance, you don't have to use some cheesy line. You just use your body," he says.

"And if you're lucky, you get to use their body," chuckles Jett.

Mai's heading out, so we pile back into the club. Jett checks out the dance floor with one muy linda Latina she's had her eye on, while I hang back at the bar with another Tecate.

Up ambles Xuan Santer, 25, who's an aspiring filmmaker from Mexico City originally. Santer currently lives in downtown Phoenix, and came to Club Bash to hang with friends.

"I migrated to the U.S. because of economics," says Santer, slyly. "I've been in Arizona for six years, and before that Los Angeles for eight. I lived in South Central, the 'hood. It's sort of like from one slum to another. Downtown Phoenix is not quite a slum, I guess. But it's got enough crackheads!"

"Where do the crackheads cluster?" I wonder.

"Right outside my window," he says, smiling. "That's where you get your best deals. I think you can get a rock for like $5. It's pretty cheap, and pretty popular, too. It's not a social drug, though. You can't go up to someone and say, 'Hey, I've got some crack, wanna come over?' They'll be like, 'Yeah, what's next, I'm going to be sucking dick for you?'"

"Two great tastes that, um, taste great together," I say. "See, crack really does bring people closer.

"What sort of films do you wanna make?" I ask.

"Films about issues that I've been through," he says, growing serious. "Sort of along the lines of Pedro Almodóvar, Neil Jordan, Martin Scorsese, directors like that."

"Have you made anything yet?"

"Just shorts and still photos," he tells me. "Nothing serious yet. I was looking into making midget porn, but midgets are so hard to come by in Arizona. A couple of months ago, though, I went on a date with this hot Puerto Rican chick and she brought her midget roommate along. So they exist here."

"That's wack. A real midget?" I ask, wondering where Jett's gotten to. She'll never believe this conversation.

"Yeah, she was a black midget from Alaska. As soon as I came in the door, I started fantasizing about them together."

"A black midget from Alaska, and a hot Puerto Rican chica?" I say. "Now that's what I call a film!"

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