Last Saturday evening, I met up with a friend at the Beaches Jazz Festival and we sampled a wide array of bands and styles, occasionally if not literally, dancing in the street. Although my friend doesn’t dance salsa, there were the occasional Latin beats and some cha-chas to which I “shined” solo. Mostly we listened to blues, funk, big bands, and danced to a variety of music.
A funny thing happens when you dance in public among a crowd of non-dancers. They often tend to react as if something out of the ordinary and magical is happening. To be fair, that reaction is not too far off the mark: Dancing in public is indeed out of the ordinary, and dancing (by which I mean lead-follow, you-look-like-you-know-what-you’re-doing, type of dancing) is quite magical. Nonetheless, I did notice quite a few phones pointed our way at the various stops along Queen Street, and I’m sure we are (or soon will be) out there on YouTube and Instagram among other scenes from the Streetfest.
We’ve all heard the cliché advice, “dance like no one is watching you,” an exhortation to let down your guard, pack away your inhibitions, and experience authentic moments of immediate joy however you experience them. It is an admonition to ignore critics and those who would “tsk-tsk” you into the boredom of conformity. The aphorism reminds us not to pull our punches with life; rather, live fully and exalt in the present. And when you are dancing, it is the simultaneous, three-way connection – music, partner, and floor – that makes that moment of life truly vital.
Everyone reading this post knows that I regularly dance in the street … okay, near the street … with Sidewalk Salsa every (non-raining) Thursday. But more than that, give me some music and a willing partner, and I will dance almost anywhere—in a checkout line, in front of a tourist souvenir kiosk, in the middle of a (not very crowded) restaurant, you name it! Having the ability to spontaneously dance is truly a gift—to be able to hear music, identify its intrinsic heartbeat, match that foundational rhythm to a style, and turn an otherwise mundane moment into magic.
In one sense, that’s why Salsaholics Anonymous exists—to enable everyone to be able to do exactly what I’ve just mentioned. Hear music, and turn an otherwise mundane moment into magic. As it turns out, because I was so visible dancing on Saturday with a great partner, several former Salsaholics students noticed me and asked if I was still teaching on Thursday, and still doing Sidewalk Salsa after class. “Yes,” I responded. “Why don’t you come out and join us once again?” because we’d love to…
See you on the dance floor.