There’s a weekly free Salsa & Bachata class in Miami Beach, outdoors in a public park, right on the water. So finally this past week, I said ‘why not?’ and went. The setting couldn’t have been any more perfect. There were boats and ships sailing by, a light breeze, people walking leisurely by taking in the music and dance. It was a really good time and a great intro to Bachata & Salsa. I was instantly hooked, and I’ll tell you a little bit later what I ended up doing this week to prove that I’m a little nutty sometimes…
Anyways, let me finish up what happened in class first. So, during the class, the ladies lined up as we practiced, and every few minutes the men would move one person down the line. Essentially, you end up practicing with everyone. It’s a great way to get used to other styles, I mean everyone dances completely differently even when dancing the same dance. It’s insane. We were all dancing Salsa with the same choreography, but every partner did it differently. And that day, I learned a lot of dance moves yes, and I had a lot of fun, but what completely blew my mind, since it seems so basic and cliche, is that what I really learned was how much you can tell about someone from the way they dance! And moreover how a couple dances is really a metaphor for their relationship in life. Ladies, don’t date someone without dancing with them, you can learn so much about them if you read it right. I’ll explain in a minute, just keep coming along with me for this one, I’ll get you there, promise.
So, the man is the ‘lead’ in most dances that I know of (if this isn’t so in a certain dance, let me know I’d be very interested in learning about it). Using his hands he’s supposed to pull, push, tug, gently guide, your hands that he’s holding to let you know the direction to go in, or to cue you up for a turn or spin. I’m not going to even pretend that it was easy for me to be ‘lead’. I think it might be a sight overreaction to the breakup I’m going through, because I had felt like I had relinquished so much control in that relationship & our life decisions, so now, I want to be more ‘in control’ of my own destiny, so I actually couldn’t stop and just “trust” my partner. I kept anticipating a turn, or over thinking the dance. This may all sound like I’m blowing a dance session out of proportion, well, if you haven’t tried one, do it, and if you aren’t used to giving up control tell me how hard or easy it is for you to dance well with a partner.
The instructor was getting a little frustrated with some of us and he kept saying,”ladies, don’t think”. Meaning, just let the damn guy lead you, and follow his physical cues. Mind you it took me back slightly, the wording of the phrase,”ladies, don’t think”, but English is not his first language, and I knew his intent behind the words, so I let it slide and tried to focus on what he was asking us to do. So, I tried and I tried and I tried. I got ‘better’ at it towards the end.
I danced with several men, and all of their styles were so completely different. From my (limited) experience this week, dance partners can fall into several categories:
- Peacock: more interested in his moves and showing off then dancing with you. I can’t imagine what that translates to in bed, probably a lot of disappointment.
- Hulk: literally almost shoves you in the direction he wants. Ummm, just NOPE.
- East Coaster: ‘aloof’ facial expression, doesn’t look at you, it’s like you’re a ghost. I think this one bothers me the most. Dance is that of emotion & expression, have some, show it, be vulnerable, I won’t tell your homies back in the Bronx.
- Submissive: you might as well lead him. And you might want to, and that’s OK. Not my personal cup of Joe.
- Tasmanian Devil: spins you till you turn green. It’s fun at first, until you start reaching for the barf bag tucked away in the seat in front of you before assuming the crash position.
- Popcorn: out of rhythm, overzealous. At least he tries, right?
- Champagne: aka mr. smooth. A little bit of control, a little bit of sexy, a little bit of fun, juuuuust right.
Those are the over-arching styles I noticed. I’m sure there are more. But, what I want to get to is this. When you’re dancing with your partner be aware of things like, how they are holding your hand, is it too hard, too light? How are they guiding you, is it too assertive where it’s almost overpowering? Are they getting frustrated with you or putting you at ease by smiling and laughing when you make a mistake? Are they so focused on getting the steps right where they are forgetting to have fun? And I challenge you to look at yourself as a partner as well. Remember a dance is always TWO people. It’s easy to blame the mistakes on the other person without turning any of it on ourselves, isn’t it? Sometimes, their ‘negative energy’ might be a reaction to the negativity we are putting out and vice versa. I had a partner that kept asking me to dance at a social, even though he knew I was a beginner, and his one request was, just don’t stop smiling. So, yeah, I messed up a lot, but he had fun teaching me and we didn’t stop laughing. So, was the goal having a technically perfect dance, or having a perfectly fun time? I’ll take a fun time over a perfect anything anytime. Let loose, and let things be what they are.
Oh, and back why I’m so damn nutty. I ended up doing two more classes, a Bachata & Salsa class, and on top of it, I went to two salsa socials! So, a salsa social is just like a high school dance but way cooler, and without all the pimples and lame attempts to get to second base, all the attempts are serious attempts to get to home base haha. So, you hang around talking and then someone will ask you to dance the song that just started, usually by coming up to you with their hand extended up, palm facing upwards. You slip your hand into theirs and get ready to twirl the song away. You can also ask men to dance, and I did a couple of times to test it out. It was a lot of fun, because everyone dances so differently.
I already have another three dance classes lined up in the next couple of days, and it’s only Monday :). Does that make me ‘intense’ as a friend put it or just willing to do what I need to so I get the result I want? Or maybe those two things are the same thing…I have no idea…I might need to phone a friend or poll the audience. Until next time Squadettes, keep on dancing.