After a nearly two week delay, here’s another recap of my salsa class. (Sorry–sometimes I have to spend time trying to pay the rent.) Unfortunately, this is a recap of the class from last week since I didn’t make it to this Monday night’s due to sickness. Oh well. I hope they didn’t cover too much ground during my absence.
This post will be brief, partly because my memory of that particular class has grown a little dim when it comes to the specific. The devil (and the fun), of course, is in the details so I guess this will be a little less devilish.
Last week we didn’t learn any new turns. Rather we honed the inside turn and then put into combination with other steps and turns. In fact, we danced a little combo with three turns and when we finally set the steps to music, it actually felt like we were dancing.
I’ve stated from the beginning of this recap series that I wanted to learn how to salsa, not to learn how to dance but to learn how to be led and dance with another person. Because of my background in breaking and house, I tend to pick up steps and choreography pretty quickly. This quality has made me difficult to lead thus far because I’ll gently (don’t judge–I said GENTLY) tell my partner if he made an error. But in the last class, the guys seemed grateful when I nudged them. The routine had gotten longer and more complicated. Some even asked me before we started dancing whether I had the combo down pat. When I said that I knew it, a couple of men told me to tell help them out.
As I rack my brain for the dating lesson in all of this, all I can come up with is a pretty weak one–that perhaps these “partners” and I have known each other for a few weeks and they feel comfortable enough to seem “vulnerable”–let me help out, similar to dating situations where after a few weeks the guy feels comfortable enough to not be perfectly in control of his presentation to you. He no longer is trying so hard to impress with his facility at all things.
Instead I keep gravitating towards a more a feminist explanation. I know that salsa is supposed to reflect strict gender roles–men lead and women follow–and in that setting it is not really at all pernicious. But there’s a freedom to having an independent woman afoot. If you constantly have to be strong for a woman then you aren’t really given the opportunity to ever be vulnerable. Just as women have the desire to be strong and powerful men also sometimes want to be able to let their guards down, to not know the next turn to make on a car trip or the next step to take in a dance class. Or perhaps I’m reading too far into this.
Anyway, this idea isn’t wholly original. I heard it better expressed by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, which is the source of much of my artistic inspiration. He said the following during a speech at Equality Now by way of explaining why he created such a strong female character in Buffy (starts around 5:25 but you should really watch the whole thing):
“I think there is something particular about a female protagonist that allows a man to identify with her that opens up an aspect of himself that he might be unable to express, hopes and desires that he might be uncomfortable expressing through a male identification figure.”