I have been dancing salsa for four years now, and there is always something new to learn, a move to improve on, some styling to add. But there is one element of the dance that has defeated me; my as yet unconquered frontier. My Salsa Everest.

It is a part of salsa that despite the very best teaching over the past few years makes my eyes glaze over in panic and all my sense of rhythm and timing run for the door. But I know now that it is a recognised condition. The technical terminology for it is: Allthelights- Areonbut No-one’sathome- itis, commonly known as shine blindness

During the lesson it all appears to go in: I concentrate VERY VERY hard, watch the teacher, listen to what is being said and done, and then attempt to translate it carefully from my mind to my feet. And sometimes it appears to work, but only for the duration of the class. Then, as if by magic, as if Paul McKenna has clicked his hypnotic fingers and said “And Now You Will Forget EVERYTHING”, I Forget Everything.

There are four main explanations for this:

  1. Lost in Translation: the words that come out the teacher’s mouth say, for example, “mambo, single spin, double suzee q, step back, samba steps…., the words that go into my head are “mambo, single spin, double suzee q, step back, samba steps..”, but sometimes, the words that go from my head to my feet are “I think I’ll do exactly as I want thank you, and none of that salsa stuff. Actually, I think I’ll tread on my own feet and trip myself up. And one…”
  2. The Invisible Forcefield. There is a magnetic field around my head which prevents anything useful going in
  3. Masking. My friend’s six year old daughter has been known, when her mother is trying to explain her maths homework to her, just to sing – la la la la la la la….which translates as, “I don’t understand, I’ll never understand, I’m going to make a daisy chain now. Bye.” The grown up equivalent is, “Did I turn the iron off, I wonder where that missing pink flip-flop has gone, Oh God, I left the grill on…”
  4. I suffer from Shine Blindness, I can’t do shines.

So, what happens when I go out is this: I dance well, style, laugh, wiggle, and probably look like I can hold my own doing some independent footwork, until I have to do some independent footwork, when I do a mambo, dig deep into

my brain, come up with a Cuban turn, then concentrate – if you look closely you’ll see the seed of a shine flicker in my eyes like a faulty lightbulb – it flickers and then dies, phhht – then I smile apologetically and do a couple of Suzee Q’s, which sort of peter out a bit, look at the floor, mutter, “I’m finished,” then pull myself together and shriek, “I’m sorry, shines are not my best subject, hahahahahah ha, mmmm” people not suffering from Shine Blindness

People not suffering from Shine Blindness - Salsa DiariesOther people doing shines… .. life’s so unfair….

BUT I have finally tired of this: going out and watching others and their little intricate foot patterns, their wiggles and flicks and confident smiles.

my glazed eyes, panicked fixed smile and endless Suzee Qs have just been replaced by a knowing flick of the hair, a bewitching grin, and a five minute foot riff – well, hopefully anyway.

I had a private lesson with Yolande Lewis, eh viola, da da, I have learned a shine and it has gone into my brain and stayed there. Give that woman a medal – The Victoria Cross for Patience above and beyond etc etc

So, if you see someone executing a rather cute and stylish little shine, then breaking into a spontaneous round of applause for herself – its is me.

After all, it has been four years, four whole years….

Now, what do i need to work on next..