Archive for February, 2011


February 17, 2011

Socrates learned to dance when he was seventy because he felt that an essential part of himself had been neglected. ~Source Unknown

When I first decided to start up Salsa, I knew something in my soul was missing. I come from an artistic family; everybody had their outlet. I hadn’t played music in a long time and hadn’t found any inspiration to write either. But I didn’t want to be the artist struggling alone in the dark. I had enough of isolation with work, sitting in a cubicle on the phone all day troubleshooting people’s problems. As I would go out with “Drinking Buddy” I saw more isolation; sad lonely looking drunk old men. I saw the road I could very easily have headed down; isolated, depressed, alone – with all of the negative connotations that go along with it. Something essential had definitely had been neglected.

Growing up, music was always an important part in my house. I played music, my sister’s played music, dad always had music playing. And we were encouraged to listen to a wide variety of music. Good music was always good music, regardless of the style. I had started listening to artists like Cherry Poppin’ Daddies and Indigo Swing. The music was upbeat and joyous. I considered taking swing for a while.

Sometimes God works in mysterious ways, sometimes he whacks you upside the back of your head. I was doing a Google Search for dance lessons in L.A. and I found my current instructors had lessons on Monday nights between home and work so I figured that I’d give it a shot. As I had mention before, they were amazing. They turned a geeky, shy guy into a Salsero. The social interaction, artistry, the music and the masculinity got me hooked. That part of my soul hasn’t been neglected since.


Getting Inspired

February 11, 2011

One good thing about being able to appreciate other dances is that I can get inspired by other dances. I was browsing around and stumbled upon a Tango blog about maintaining a healthy Tango addiction. The blogger had a quote she got from one of her instructors.

“This is your community, these are your dancers, these are your options, so help each other become good dancers.” Luciana Valle

Tango Blog

It struck a point on exactly why I dance with the beginners. Mind you, I love dancing with the amazing dancers. I absolutely love dancing with my instructor and would never turn a dance down with her. But if I can encourage the beginners, make them feel comfortable dancing Salsa, make them feel good and help them get better, then that means that there will be more good dance partners out there for me to dance with.

One of he nicest feeling I had was the other day when I was helping out in the beginning class. They were teaching a 1 ½ turn to the right. I was dancing with one lady and all of a sudden, she just got it. She burst out in happiness and I could see the fire in her eye lighting up. Right there I could sense that she was going to become a Salsera.

As I’ve said before, Salsa, like any partner dance, is a cooperative endeavor. We need to help each other out. If we can get more people sticking with it, then the whole community benefits.

Monopolizing partners

February 9, 2011

Salsa falls into the category of Social Dancing. And I like to emphasize the Social part of it. As dancers, we get together and enjoy the time with each other. Some people just don’t seem to understand the social parts of it. There are guys that will take a girl out on the floor and take three or four dances in a row with the same lady. This seems to defeat the social aspects of dancing.

Now I understand if people come together as a couple and they want to dance together. But even then, they will frequently take a break and dance with other people. In fact, I’ve read that in earlier times, it would be considered a breach of etiquette for a husband and wife to dance together. It would be considered anti-social. The idea was that if a married couple wanted to spend time together, they wouldn’t have gone out to a social event. It would have been the equivalent of going to a dinner party and ignoring all the other guests and just talking among themselves. Yet these days, some guys think it is perfectly ok to ask a woman to dance and then hold on to her for three or four dances in a row, being blissfully unaware of other gentlemen who would like to dance with her.

When I see things like this, I don’t make a scene and I find other people to dance with, knowing that I would get a dance later on in the evening. There’s nothing wrong with getting more than one dance with your favorite partner. I’ve gotten multiple dances with the same partner in the same night. I just don’t dance with her two songs in a row. I give her a chance to take a break or dance with another lead.

Learning to steer

February 3, 2011

One of the most frustrating things about dancing in clubs, especially when things get crowded is people running into me or my partner when we’re trying to dance. Most of the time it’s just a bump or two and I just brush it off. But I’ve seen women get hurt out there when they get stepped on. For us guys it’s not quite as bad because we’re usually wearing a lot more shoe than the ladies, but I’ve been stepped on bad enough where I was limping off the dance floor. And I’ve seen ladies walk off the dance floor bleeding because they got stepped on by another woman in heels. Getting hurt is never pleasant.

My overriding rule is that regardless of whether we’re dancing with a professional dancer that has been dancing for years or a day one newbie, we always look out for our partners. Part of the job of being a lead is to pay attention of our surroundings and steer. As a golf teacher once taught me, you aim towards the holes and away from the hazards. And usually, the hazard is usually some guy dancing way too big for the dance floor trying to show off. There have been several times I’ve been dancing and had to either cut a woman’s back break short or redirect her away from someone else coming in behind her. Let me tell you, the ladies notice. I frequently have gotten a “nice catch” comment from the person I’m dancing with.

If a lead gets a reputation of looking out for his partner, then his partner will start trusting him. When she starts trusting the lead, then she can get creative and playful with her styling. And when that happens, then things start getting fun. With the right partner, we can get moving pretty fast and hard. But to get to that point, I’d better be ready to catch her every time.

Being a Regular

February 1, 2011

It is nice to go out and find new places to go and dance and it’s exciting to find new dance partners, but finding a place you can dance at regularly can make a world of difference.

I’ve found that I get more positive responses from people that I’ve danced with or at least seen me around the club. They know that I can dance well and know that I would look out for them. It’s not that I won’t dance with a woman that I haven’t seen, but my regular partners do get priority to other women. And I know what to expect from certain partners. I can be more aggressive with one partner; less so with another; each partner will have her own styling that I enjoy.

Being known by the staff is always nice too. I have a running joke with the front desk people at one club I go to. If there’s a new door man and he asks if I’m on the guest list, the lady behind the desk says “He’s always on the list.” But like any business, they like repeat business. So the club will look out for their regular customers. At the club I frequent, I’ve gotten on the guest list, even though I’ve missed the cut off time. Being friendly with the security personnel can make the night a bit more pleasant.

And another benefit of being a regular at a place that a lot of people don’t think about, you know where all the cool spots in the room.