I’m dancing with the girl in yellow, pivoting and swirling, a little surprised that she had returned but resolute that this dance will be better than the last.

She smiles and matches my movements, following more closely than last time, more easily picking up my improvisational modern dance movements over my more traditional and slightly flawed Latin dance moves from 15 minutes previous.

And then she’s a fist.

Or rather, where she was just a moment ago is a fist. A fist that connects with my right cheek. Boom.

I’m confused for a moment and then I realize that the guy in gray is standing in front of me, ready to hit again, and my gay posse is holding him back, dragging him away from me and from what he clearly wants to do: hit me again and again until I can’t dance with his girl any more.

The Other Club

The night started like any other since I’ve been in Lima. I was sitting at my laptop, desperately trying to find a way out that would circumvent the transportation strike that had held the country in a choke-hold for the better part of a week.

A pseudo-friend who I helped set up his WiFi connection the day before comes up to me and introduces himself, first names finally exchanged. He goes upstairs and friends me on Facebook, sending me an instant message and inviting me out with him and his friends to a bar a few blocks away.

My stomach was a little tremulous (as it had been since I arrived in Lima) but I decided to go out, desperate for some excuse to separate myself from the hostel that I’d been cloistered in since I arrived many days before.

I put on my leather shoes instead of rocking the flip-flops I’ve been sporting since I arrived and it turns out to be a good idea. It’s a club, not a bar, and a gay club at that. People are fancy and I’m feeling not fancy.

But apparently I’m LOOKING fancy, because the attention is overwhelming.

Lots of people – men and women – are accidentally bumping into me and striking up conversations or staggering my way with extra drinks they happened to get from the bar.

This isn’t terribly uncommon, but it’s a little strange. I haven’t showered today and honestly was only prepared for a sportsbar or some such. Yawn.

The Girl in Yellow

But then I notice a girl walk in who changes things. She’s wearing a yellow 80’s oversized shirt and shiny black leggings. She’s kind of my type and dancing seductively.

I take this opportunity to tell my compatriots that I’m not gay, but that’s the kind of girl I’m into if they want to be my wingmen.

Chica Amarilla (yellow girl) and I exchange eye contact a few times from across the club but that’s it. When she comes our way, my new friends make sure to find out what she thinks of me.

Everything seems to be on the up-and-up. She’s kinda’ into me, too, and her gay friends seem to approve as well (this is very important). I’m in.

Local Sport

In South America, it would seem, it’s not good to show your hand before you rummy. For me to express too much interest would be a death warrant, and she would be bored before we started.

I rail against this rule and then try to accept it. I went into this night with no expectations…it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I ignore this girl and nothing happens.

So I do so. She sways by from time to time, and then my friends tell me that the party is moving to another club. I’m game. I consciously don’t look her way as we leave to see if she notices.

Oh, the games we play.

Knights and Dragons

We walk 4 or 5 blocks across downtown Lima to a place that is even more fabulous than the last. Apparently that other club closes at 3, and this one closes at 5. ‘What time is it?’ I say in Spanish. ‘3,’ one of my friends replies. Ah. Got it.

After about 20 minutes at the new club (it’s medieval themed!), Chica Amarilla shows up with her crew of two guys, the Guy in Grey and another, less description-worthy fellow. Both sit down at the bar and she starts dancing.

I’m noticing her out of the corner of my eye but disciplining myself into not ogling.

I’m dancing with my friends and she wanders over. One after the other they dance with her and I finish my drink as I await my turn.

I step up to bat and the DJ is playing a distinctly Latin beat. I do okay, but I give myself a 5 out of 10, tops. She clearly ranks me the same and heads back to her crew, scooping up the non-Grey fellow and starting to dance.

I head back to my possee, defeated and let down, sipping more beer as it’s handed to me and dancing up a storm. The music shifts and my moves come out. I’m FEELING it. This is a good thing.

She’s watching from across the club and I know it. I’m ignoring her pretty well (my ignoring skills are up to a 7 out of 10 on a good night). After a little while she comes back over and gestures at me with her finger, ‘You, over here’ it says.

I come over obediently (after a few minutes of dance-foreplay), moving in sync with her rhythm and impressing the onlookers. The floor opens up a bit.

After a few minutes, out of nowhere a hand claps my right cheek and it’s over. Damnation.

Cultural Differences

My first response after the Guy in Grey hit me in the face was to apologize. I realized what was going on pretty quickly ‘Oh shit, that’s his GIRLFRIEND, not his beard like I assumed.’ My bad. Lo siento. I didn’t realize.

But my friends, after pulling him back from his assault, said that this would be no good. ‘He’s a local and has the bouncers on his side,’ they said. ‘And he’s just jealous..she did this to you. She told him that you touched her ass or something like that and he hit you.’

I was flummoxed.

‘Can you go over there and tell him I didn’t realise she had a boyfriend and that I want to buy him a drink?’ I begged one of my compatriots.’It’s just a misunderstanding I’m sure. I hate to feel like I can’t go over to the bar because he’s sitting over there.’

They weren’t having it. He was itching for a fight, they said, and she was itching for attention from her man. I had provided the fuel for both and that was that. Anything I could do would only make things worse.

They pulled me away to leave and I didn’t look over to the Chica Amarilla or the Guy in Grey. I felt betrayed by both, one for using me to feel loved and the other for ruining my opinion of his city.