On a recent Friday night, I was having dinner at Gusto Cuban, a restaurant in Ralston, when I noticed a pack of women in leggings and athletic shoes assembling in the back.
At first I thought they were perhaps picking up some takeout on the way home from the gym. Then the wait staff started moving the tables out of the restaurant and onto the patio.
One of my friends asked the waiter if they were moving the tables to make room for dancing.
“Yes,” he said. “Rumba.”
Or did he say Zumba? I couldn't tell.
Indeed, he said Zumba.
Shortly thereafter, about half a dozen women broke into a spirited, athletic version of the Gangnam Style dance. It was so bizarre and so awesome that I hung around for the next hour.
During that time, the women Zumbaed (Zumba, by the way, is a group exercise program that borrows heavily from Latin dance) to hip hop, Rihanna, a dance remix of a song from the Beetlejuice soundtrack and one country song.
As it turns out, Friday night Zumba at Gusto Cuban is a weekly thing, which Tinisha Poitier started back in October.
Poitier, a Zumba instructor, is up for Zumba pretty much all the time, and figured others were too. A Friday night class seemed especially appropriate to her — she figured it would get people in the mood for dancing afterwards.
“The atmosphere, the people, the music — it's just the perfect fit,” she said.
The dinner crowd had thinned by the time the Zumba started, but a few patrons were still lingering over drinks or dessert. Many seemed surprised to see a restaurant temporarily converted into a gym, but no one seemed to mind. One woman even joined in (the cost is $7 and a signed waiver).
And a few weeks ago, Poitier said, a group of women who arrived early for salsa dancing (which happens after Zumba on Friday nights), joined in and Zumbaed in their heels.
I did not join in the night I was there, mostly because I was wearing really uncomfortable shoes. Also, these ladies are great dancers, and I was a bit self-conscious about my own less-than-amazing dance skills. But I think with a pack of willing friends, this would be a fun experiment.
Zumba starts at 9 p.m. on Fridays, if you'd like to give it a try yourself.
I wrote about this a bit last week, but it bears repeating: The band Cursive, along with fellow Omaha musician Chris Machmuller, has bought O'Leaver's.
The band took possession of the business at 1322 S. Saddle Creek Road on Dec. 1 and has been operating under a temporary operating license until their permanent liquor license is granted.
So far, little has changed. The new management has painted the ceiling brown, and they're also slowly remodeling O'Leaver's notorious bathrooms. Down the road, they have plans to convert a little room behind the horseshoe-shaped bar into a tiki lounge. But they are not planning to convert the bar and music venue into anything remotely fancy, said Cursive bassist Matt Maginn. The Christmas lights, walls plastered with album covers and live music will all stay.
“We bought it because we love it,” Maginn said.
I don't often write about music here, but I'll make an exception for Michael Curet, a hip hop artist who performs as Guerrilla X. He'll release his new album Saturday night at The Waiting Room Lounge, 6212 Maple. St..
The new album, Rise to Resist, was an emotional one for Curet, a veteran, to put together. In his music, he takes on issues like war and coping after the death of a loved one.
He prefers emotional music about his own experiences to lyrics about clubs and girls.
“Me, I like to talk about the true stories and bring that into the limelight a little bit,” he said.
And he's out for drama.
In order to make sure his music was reaching people, he put together an unofficial focus group of seven women, just to see how they responded. He claims his music brought five of the seven to tears.
He'll perform Saturday with Bronx-based hip-hop artist Chino XL. Tickets are $13 in advance and $17 the day of the show, and are available at eTix.com. The show is open to all ages.