Posts Tagged ‘dance’
Monday night things got a little twisted in salsa class. Literally. We learned the dizzying inside turn, which entails 520 degrees of turning for the women. This repeated spinning in sneakers had me staring enviously at the women who were wearing heels. Pivoting seemed like it would be so much simpler to do in heels, which marks the first time I’ve ever looked at heels and thought anything about them would make life easier. This really proves the theorem, “There’s a first time for everything.” (For merely thinking that heels could be useful and considering purchasing a pair in the future, I am awarding myself the first ever Lady Point. These will be assigned by me but you are welcome to give them to me in the comments to inspire me on my path to womanhood.)
Now back to that tricky turn. Needless to say that all of the leads, even the strongest ones, struggled with guiding the women through the spin. We ladies had practiced the turn un-partnered so many times, as we do with any new move, that we actually don’t need to be led through it. We already know what to do on our own. Even if your partner fails to take you through the appropriate steps, you know what’s supposed to come next and you do it automatically, and spin away from him.
The instructor (who was wearing a t-shirt that read “Salsa is the new hip hop”) noticing this, stepped in and told the guys that they have to maintain contact throughout the maneuver. ”Your job is to keep her near you,” he explained to the men. “The ladies will always want to go off and do their styling, but you can’t let her.”
I didn’t jerk away and start styling but I do understand the impulse. After all, I come from the world of improvisational dance where you always go off on your own. That’s what I’m trying to cure, at least in this particular setting. (It serves me very well elsewhere.) I think I will stay away from styling for good long while. I got the “on my own” part pretty down pat.
I am no longer going to devote whole posts to how I don’t know how to be led. I feel like that is going to get boring real fast since this is an ongoing issue. Of course, if something hilarious happens in connection to this handicap, I will note at the end of the post. As for last night, my gay friend from last week burst into laughter when he saw me but upon taking a turn to dance conceded that my handshake felt less firm this time. Progress–I’m awarding myself one Lady Point. Another partner observed that I did try to pull before he pushed me. Minus one Lady Point. And finally, I did tell one older gentleman to relax his grip; he was grasping my fingers so tightly that I thought he would break them as we went through the turns. Another lost point. But according to my officially and very unbiased tally, I broke even, Lady-wise.
It seems I spoke (or wrote) too soon.
Last week, I wrote that I love being led in salsa. While that still may be true, it might take me more than three classes to learn how to follow, even when appropriately directed.
Last night’s class seriously ratcheted up the difficulty level. To the right hand turn, the instructor added the left hand turn. I haven’t been this flustered since learning how to drive (I’m sure it was great fun for the other driver’s ed students in the car with me).
But as hard as things might’ve been for me, they were harder for the guys who had to lead us through the motions.
I was proud of myself early the class for allowing a male partner to turn me the wrong way. I knew it was the wrong direction and I went along with it anyway. Bonus points for me!
However this victory was short lived. A few times I encountered a partner with what I inwardly termed “a stiff wrist.” What is he trying to accomplish, I wondered as I turned and he pulled me. As I moved onto the next guy it hit me–he was trying to lead me. He was trying to pull me towards him to do the turn instead of merely letting me do the move as though it was choreography.
It only got worse from there. The instructor added a sly maneuver that was tripping all of the guys up–in the middle of the turn the men had to switch hand, grasping mine with their right instead of left. After a few different partners forgot about this switcheroo, I started offering my right hand to their rights. I thought I was doing them a favor.
What I was actually trying to do was lead though few of the males seem to mind. Then I got to one of my favorite partners. When I unwittingly extended my right hand, expecting him to forget to reach and take it. He started cracking up. “Are you trying to shake my hand?” he asked, laughing.
So what’s the potential love lesson in all of this or is it merely an amusing anecdote? I think the takeaway is that if the consequences aren’t particularly dire then maybe you should let your partner occasionally lead you astray, allow him to fumble while you chuckle to yourself. Sometimes love means letting someone twirl you the wrong way or accidentally drop your hand while stepping on your toe–and you say nothing about it.
Until I have any videos of myself dancing that are worth watching, please enjoy this salsa dancing puppy.
(h/t Andrew for the video)
Last night was my second salsa dancing session (I missed last week’s class because I was on the West Coast) and though I was worried that I would have a lot of ground to make up, I learned the new moves pretty quickly. Not because I’m some sort of dance genius. The pace of the class is slow–it’s for absolute beginners–and though I’m new to partnering, after five years of breaking I am a quick study when it comes to picking up basic footwork.
The partnering part of the class, however, wasn’t quite as simple. Last night’s session featured a cross body turn that I missed last week and tonight’s special torture–a right hand turn. This turn, our instructor told us, was more of a concern for the women than for the men. We would have to do it whereas the males, while twirling us through it, simply had to continue do the basic step. Their job–directing the women to do the complex steps. They’re the CEOs of this dance. The women are middle management.
Yet despite the breakdown of roles, I didn’t particularly mind. It sounds so anti-feminist of me to admit this, but I really do enjoy being led in this dance when the man doing the leading is a sure, confident hand. In this situation, I feel like I can relax and enjoy the music and atmosphere. As I made the rounds–since there were more women than men this week, the ladies rotated while the men remained in place–I found myself looking forward to meeting up again with certain partners who had a sure hand such as the youngish man in his gym sweats or the gay guy who this week showed up without his boyfriend (who also happens to be a strong lead). I was calmer when I stood opposite them, knowing that for a minute or two I would have to think just a little less.
Is this, in micro, what being in a secure relationship feels like? Does it mean feeling less anxious, that if you drop the ball or miss a step, there is someone there to help smooth things over, to pick up my slack? If so–sign me up.
I keep lists everywhere–on my wall, on my computer, in my head. I am always worried that I’ll forget something. It would be nice to have someone else to rely on. On the other hand, when I do manage to get everything done, I feel a rush of accomplishment. Would I feel the same way had these things been achieved in a partnership?
In addition to encouraging the men to lead us women-folk with confidence, which he did several times during the class, he also offered another bit of advice–get out of the women’s way. He was referring to the turns. When leading the women through them, he cautioned, the purpose of the men’s footwork was to step aside and make space for us to pass and strut our stuff.
So lead strongly and then step away and let the women do the work? Perhaps a bit reactionary, but I’ll take it on the dance floor, at least. In real life, I might require some adjustments to this framework.
Related Posts ¬
|Jan 3, 2012||Love Lessons From Salsa: Look Into My Eyes|
|Feb 28, 2012||Of heels, stylizing and Dirty Dancing|
|Jan 24, 2012||Please shake my hand|
|Dec 1, 2011||Klit Killer Number One: Turning me into your mother|
|Sep 25, 2011||What’s wrong with me? Maybe nothing.|
File this week’s Modern Love, which was a sweet story, under “very obvious metaphors.”
In “Taking a Step Forward,” Deborah Derrickson Kossman writes about how a salsa dance class she took with her husband and how it helped her better understand her marriage, which had grown shakier as the two tried to have a child.
As she contemplated enrolling in a salsa class with her husband, she observed that they complemented each other perfectly, at least as it pertained to dance. He is coordinated and she has rhythm.
This was one of my favorite fantasies about marriage: the idea that it would complete you in a way no other relationship could. Not only would your partner always be present when you wanted him, he also would be able to read your mind and thus tend to every emotional burp. By completing each other this way, you would both be fulfilled.