I have mentioned in the past how I love dancing in new cities as it gives me the thrill of something fresh and new. No disrespect to all of the amazing follows in Chicago, but dancing with new people always brings me an excited energy that I remember from my days as a new dancer. Do you recall? Remember when the dancing fix was a 4-5 night a week adventure? Do you fondly recall the late night eating and vibing with your new friends at Ihop or any of 543,098 Mexican joints (in Chicago at least)?
Well, if any of you are like me, it wasn’t always so smooth and easy of a transition to go from Latin dance class to Latin dance club. I vividly look back and reminisce about first taking class and loving every minute of it. Even to this day, I love learning and being a student as I know I’m in the process of growing and becoming better. Dancing has always been a learning process for me and I look forward to coaching or classes where I can be in the position of student.
I digress! When I first started taking classes, I was actually pretty competent. I would often get compliments from the fellow leads and inquiries on how to do certain things that they weren’t picking up as fast as I was. While I never would disrespect the teacher and try to teach in his/her class, I would say a quick note about what I was doing in order to help. As you can imagine, it was a refreshing ego boost to be among the better leads in the class. I made some good acquaintances at the dance school and was soon asked about going out.
Having been a huge House-music-head for years, I was no stranger to the club scene but the Salsa scene was new and different. If you’ve never been to House music club, it’s (was) an organic and soulful experience that was most often done alone. I joke in class nowadays and say: “The spirit’s have got me y’all, the spirits!” I’m referring to the idea that I’m totally uninhibited and letting it all hang out with my movement. This is in stark contrast to what happens at the Latin clubs as women would sit and wait to be asked to dance. Indeed, gender equality has come a looong way but many women still hold onto the old fashioned belief that they should be asked to dance. Fair enough.
The problem lies in the fact that as the lead, you not only ask for the ladies permission, you also…you know…have to lead the dance.
Going from solo dancing to partner dancing went from:
“I’m pretty good at this”
“Holy s#!^, what have I gotten myself into?”
I’ve said it time and again, to begin to lead is daunting and all new leads have my support as respect. We have a lot of things to get a grasp on in order to stay in people’s good graces and avoid the dreaded blacklist.
While I was hiding out in dance class and improving my skills, I still was fearful to test myself out in the real world. I’m not proud of the fact that it took me forever to actually start but I eventually did and began to reap the countless benefits and joy that is social dancing. If any new leads are seeing this, I encourage you to take class and get a feeling for the rules for whatever style you are learning. Then, take a deep breathe and start as soon as you feel able. The nerves won’t stop for at least a month or two but you’ll soon be so comfortable out on the dance floor that the nerves will be a thing of the past.
Nowadays, with any new venture that I undertake, I always keep in mind why I’m starting it in the first place. Then, when the nerves or uncomfortable feelings kick in, I go back to why I started in the first place. While I have a distinctly lead-centric experience as a male, similar experiences are had by follows as well. Regardless, taking charge and action will always lead to a positive result.
Will it be easy and effortless? No, or at least very unlikely. The important thing to remember is that nothing of value ever is quite that simple.
That’s what makes getting good so sweet.
To your dancing…