Just walked in the door from a night of Afro-Cuban salsa with Orquestra Ashe at Duke's City down the street. First of all, my dance partner and I need some dance lessons. The one-hour lesson two years ago at Chief Ike’s -- and no offense to Chief Ike's, which offers great basic salsa lessons on Saturday nights on a drop-in basis -- doesn’t cut it here. The salsa tonight was rueda, where an announcer calls out the steps, like square-dancing. The rueda dancers provided a lesson at Duke’s at 10:30pm, but we just missed it.
Orquestra Ashe was phenomenal. For their tight sound and repertoire, which includes classics from Buena Vista Social Club and innovative pieces interspersing soul samplings with salsa (an engaging mix of Just the Two of Us to a salsa rhythm comes to mind), the twelve band members are surprisingly young. In terms of skill, they probably rival the bands that play in Miami at Lario's and the clubs on Calle Ocho. Plus, Cuban salsa is a rare treat in Washington, DC, where we don’t have a large Cuban community.
Orquestra Ashe opens for SI*SE at the Black Cat, 1811 14th Street, NW, on Saturday, February 24, 2007. It’s probably worth it just for the opening act.