Dabbling in salsa dancing…

I think I may have been Latina in a previous life. I love Latin culture. I realize there are so many different aspects of Latin culture, but I seem to love it all. I love the bright colors, the music, the language, the food, the people…but mostly the dancing:)

I have always loved to dance. Get some good music going and it is very hard for me to stand still. Music that I enjoy just feels visceral. And Spanish guitar is particularly lovely. I have always enjoyed watching people salsa dancing. Every time I was in a Central/Latin American country or a good dance club I would try to give it a whirl…learn as much as I can. A good partner can teach you so much. If you can just allow your body to be relaxed and pliable, you can almost look like you know what you are doing when paired with a good partner. Every time a good salsa song is playing, I tried to look around the room for someone who looked like they knew what they were doing, and then ask them if I could dance.

I started convincing my friends to come to “salsa night” at a particular club, even though they had no interest in learning to dance. Good friends are worth their weight in gold aren’t they?! I even went to a salsa night by myself once. This inevitabily got a bit awkward however. I was just there to learn how to dance, but somehow it was always misconstrued. They always seemed to think that I was interested in them romantically. It always ended up with my partner trying to continue the night, asking me out on dates, etc. I don’t blame them for trying…they were there for a whole different reason than I was. They were looking for a life partner, or at least a right now partner, and I was just looking for a dancing partner. Once that became frustrating enough, I decided to take salsa lessons.

Being a nurse, I had a very flexible schedule. I worked 12 hour shifts and therefore only 3 days a week…sometimes 4 if a decided to pick up a shift for extra cash. This allowed me time during the day to do things like take lessons. There are many things about nursing that are difficult, but this was definitely one of the benefits. I showed up for my lesson that first day, having no idea what to expect. I remember my instructor talking to me, trying to get some information on my background. He then took my hand and started kind of walking across the room with me, still beside me but gently turning me slightly this way and that way. I realized later that he was probably trying to see how easily I could follow his lead, or how relaxed and graceful I was. Well, I am pretty sure I failed this experiment. I remember being kind of annoyed and sort of trying to stop walking so I could look at him while I was speaking. I am sure he was not impressed;)

We then started with basics steps. It was fine, I did ok. Buuuuut I had gone out the night before. Listen…my girlfriends and I were single in the city and often went out for a drink or 2 (or maybe more:/) when we didn’t have to work the next day. Well, I unfortunately had not taken the lesson as seriously as I should have. My balance was a bit off and I was a little whoozy from getting spun in circles so often. After that I vowed to never drink the night before a lesson again. It was just a waste of money if I couldn’t give it my all.

Lessons went on for months. I really enjoyed them! I bought special ballroom dancing shoes, I looked the part. My friends knew how much I loved it and took me to a salsa night at a club for my 30th birthday. Again, not their cup of tea, but how lovely of them to do it anyway because I enjoyed it so much. Then one day, my instructor said the worst thing he could have ever said to me, “We are doing a performance and I would like you to be in it.” Ay-chee-wa-wa….no. I am brave when it comes to a lot of things but performing in front of people is my worst nightmare. I had a horrible experience in high school during a performance on stage that has scarred me for life.

I was to perform a monologue at our youth service at church in high school. I went to a very large church….there were probably a thousand people there. The monologue was about a page long, typed out. I practiced every chance I had. I had that thing down pat. I got up on stage, cruised through about 3/4 of it and then totally blanked. And I mean blank…just nothing in my head. I just started murmuring, “Um… um….” I completely understand the meaning of stage fright now. I couldn’t even think of what to do next. I just stood there mumbling and staring off into the distance. My friend started shouting my lines from the front row (I had given her a paper copy of my monologue for this very reason). It jogged my memory just enough. I kind of came too and started reciting the next sentence. Then I’ll be damned if it didn’t happen again! Mind went blank….mumbling…friend shouting from the front row… Ugh! I am cringing right now just thinking about it!

Of course throughout life I’ve had to do it. I’ve had to put myself in front of a crowd. I had speeches to give in college, I had to do multiple presentations in grad school, I read passages at weddings; but every.single.time I would get a visceral reaction. My heart would beat wildly, I would get this weird echoey feeling in my ears and I would be convinced my voice was shaking. Stage fright is very real and has scarred me for life. I just couldn’t do it. Dancing was supposed to be a fun thing for me…an outlet, not something that I wanted to stress over. I was out. I never went back. I do not recommend this. I don’t recommend just up and quitting something you love, but at that moment in my life, I didn’t have it in me. I told you I would be honest about my experiences so there it is.

I have always thought about starting lessons again, but at this point in my life I feel like that ship may have sailed. I know many will disagree with me on this, but it just feels a bit wrong now that I’m married. I hate to say that and I really struggled with that for awhile. We should still be able to do the things we love even if we are married! But salsa dancing is, in and of itself, a very sexy, very sensual dance (if you do it right:). I just don’t feel like I should go there unless I’m dancing with my husband. And since he has no interest whatsoever in any type of dance lessons…my salsa dancing days are over…at least for now. If you can separate the two, as many can, I say go for it! Or some other type of ballroom dancing! It’s tremendous exercise, its incredibly fun and it makes you feel alive.

“You don’t stop dancing when you get old, you get old when you stop dancing.”


Sincerely written on this day,

The Dabbler

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