Little did I know when I hesitantly walked through those Salsa doors for the first time that I was at the beginning of what has become a serious addiction…I honestly did think before I embarked on my first mambo that I could just dabble in this salsa stuff occasionally – work it around my life, instead of my life working around it.
Of course, three hours later, my life had changed forever, and I didn’t even know it. I had discovered my passion (or one of them, as I’m like that…)
But what was it like at the beginning?
Well, it was like this……
Scary, exciting, fun, a buzz, stimulating, and much more difficult than I thought it would be. And when I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down again.
All of the above, plus
- the music is happy, sunny, lively, wonderful….and it has so many beats and rhythms hidden within the melodies that you hear it differently every time your favourite song hits the dj’s decks;
- the people you meet want to learn to do it too, and smile a lot;
- in fact, they laugh a lot;
- and flirt a lot;
- and you can dress up and put make up on whilst keeping fit (what you look like at the end of the night after working up a sweat is another matter entirely);
- After a couple of weeks, when you do the warm up, you’ll feel like you’re in a scene from “A Chorus Line” – and 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 , Cuban turn, mambo… or “42 nd Street”….or is that just me….
- You will wake up in the middle of the night counting 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7
- You will practice your steps in your living room to “Its Not Unusual” by Tom Jones … yes you will….
- Occasionally you will wonder about what happens on 4 and 8
- After a very short period of time, you will be buying clothes for swishability and salsa friendliness
- Don’t give up after the second lesson when your bewildered male partner sinks to his knees in despair… or was that just me …(I came back, he didn’t…)
Another thing: whether you want to dance just for fun, to look good, to enter competitions or to escape, remember
whatever the ups, downs, or flailing arounds HANG ON IN THERE….
It is all worth it….the exhilaration you feel when you finally dance a routine, in time with everyone else, at the end of a class is worth all the bewilderment you can suffer in the previous hours…
And no matter how good you get, you keep doing it because you aspire to the nirvana of that perfect dance. And sometimes you get it. And when you do, you want it again, only better next time..
Be patient with yourself and, importantly, with others. Fred Astair made Ginger Rogers practice till her feet bled…you don’t have to do this to dance salsa well, you don’t even have to dance salsa well, you have to dance salsa because of how it makes you feel, and dance it so it makes you feel wonderful…and it will.
The hardest thing, though is….
Forget about the steps….the salsa dance is much like a John Wayne film…where men are men and tell the women what to do…and we are supposed to do it. Where in an increasingly confusing world for both sexes, the men are men and can get away with telling the women what to do. Without words. Now this is a very difficult adjustment to make. Well it was for me. There are only two arenas where I find being told what to do easy: household repairs and self –assembly furniture (after a particularly disastrous solo attempt, after which I called in a friend, then another friend, then the first friend’s boyfriend – and please don’t ask about the wardrobe….)
And goodness knows what its like for the men…to tell stubborn women like me what to do, confidently, assertively, and without words….