Dancing with the Beginners

When I started out, I was so grateful for one of my friends. She was an amazing dancer and almost six feet tall in her heels. And she always said yes to a dance, even though I was just starting out and there were other guys waiting to dance with her. In those early days, I learned a lot from her. And I’m still learning a lot from her.

To walk up to a woman like her requires a lot of confidence. She’s tall, beautiful and very energetic with her styling. To a beginner who just learned the basics and a right turn, the flurry of hips and legs were an overwhelming tempest. Sitting watching her, I would think to myself “How on Earth do I dance with her?” As I soon learned, it was simply give the lead and get out of the way. To dance with her, I realized that I had to be the eye of the hurricane, the calm within the storm. The flurry of styling would dance around me and I emerge on the other side.

One thing that she always expected of me is a good lead. If I gave a good lead, she would go. If I gave a bad lead, she would just stop. Frequently I would hear “I don’t know what you want me to do. Try it again.” From these early dances, I learned that you’ve got to lead it like you mean it; make it clear to your partner what your intentions are, like any good conversation. My leads have gotten tremendously better because of her. She made me step up and not be shy about giving the lead. And that has lead to women saying that they really enjoy dancing with me.

Now I’m looking to pay it forward. Whenever I get to class early and the beginning class is short of guys, I’m more than happy to jump in. One of the biggest things I try to encourage is trust. Not only trust in their partners, but more importantly trust in themselves. They need to trust that Salsa will get easier with practice. They need to trust that their feet really know where they’re supposed to go. And if their feet get lost, we can just reset and start over again. When we’re learning we’re given an unlimited number of “do over’s.”

We need to remember what our one touch today can produce tomorrow.


One Response to “Dancing with the Beginners”

  1. Shiny Says:

    My line is “I know you’re trying to direct me to do something but I have no idea what that is – can we try again?”

    Also I am reminded of Salud’s “do it con venas”


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