Over the past few weeks, we’ve been blessed with quite a few new students, many of whom are taking their first, tentative dance steps with Salsaholics Anonymous. As with any first-time experience, excitement and exhilaration are often intertwined with nervousness and uncertainty. Am I doing it right? What does my boyfriend/girlfriend think of my klutziness? Why don’t my feet go where they’re supposed to? Oh my gosh, I feel so awkward! How did my boyfriend/girlfriend get it so quickly and I can barely stand up without losing my balance? Oh no, the instructor just corrected something for the class and I was doing that exact thing! I feel so embarrassed!
Of course, the first thing to realize is, you’re not alone. In fact, it is 100% true that everyone in the class was once a beginner and felt all sorts of degrees of embarrassment, klutziness, awkwardness, and “is-it-over-yet?” and that includes me! I’ve told this story to many people at the beginning of their respective dance journey, and I think it’s instructive to recount here.
Although I had danced for quite a number of years as a teenager, I returned to the dance world as a salsa newbie fairly late in life. In fact, I began my current love affair with dance at Salsaholics Anonymous with Sunam “Sunny” Devine. As a beginner dancer, I picked up the steps and moves quickly because of my prior exposure to a different style. After a while, I gathered up the courage to go to Toronto Salsa Practice on a Saturday afternoon, perhaps the most beginner-friendly salsa social in the city. It was a disaster! I couldn’t remember hardly anything I had been taught. Whatever beat I was dancing on, it wasn’t the ones or the fives (probably something like one-and-three-quarters, or three-and-a-half…). My now-life-partner (whom I actually met at TSP) told me that she remembered dancing with me in those days thinking, “he’s off-beat, but has potential.” (Little did she know how true that was! J )
Coming to the end of that first venture into the world of salsa socials, I was ready to call it quits. Until I had what turned out to be the last dance of the afternoon with a particular partner whom I will never forget. Something magical happened during that dance and I didn’t suck… too much… But, it felt great and I decided to give it just another chance.
Many, many, many years of lessons and practice and other styles and classes and clubs and socials and… well, here I am writing the Lead for Salsaholics Anonymous, and joyfully welcoming new students into my classes every week. If you’re new around here, welcome. The awkwardness and klutziness and embarrassment will pass. The life-changing vitality of dance will sustain you throughout your life, especially when I…
See you on the dance floor.