People often joke that I have a one track mind. Before you get excited, let me confess, that track is Dance. It's often my answer for everything - and when it isn't a viable option, I often substitute that other more common track;) But, I digress. In an attempt to spread joy, I dedicate this blog to those who haven't discovered the ultimate joy of dancing!
Edwin Denby said, "There is a bit of insanity in dancing that does everyone a great deal of good." And who doesn't want to go completely crazy every now and then? If you're saying "me" right now, you probably need to more than anyone. There's a release in dancing you can't find anywhere else. (Even in the throes of passion, those fleeting thoughts of, "Damn, he just grabbed my love handles. Does he think I'm fat now?" or "Please just turn the lights off." or "Wow! This position is not flattering!" can creep in when you least expect them). Where was I going with this? Oh yes, release;)
I'm not saying dance is all simple and perfect. There are times you feel totally naked in the room and probably wish the lights were off, but if you let your fear go, it can be amazing! (The same is true for that other track, btw;) The glorious thing is, the musical element to dancing can be our oh-so-necessary escape. Especially with Salsa, where the lyrics are exotic, the rhythms complex, and instruments new - for most of us.
If we allow it, we can be transported! Who doesn't want to spend an evening where the palm trees sway whimsically as the salty air brushes your hair off your neck and the margaritas go down like sugar? I'm about to buy a plane ticket! Or I could just go dancing this evening:)
And it doesn't have to be Salsa. Every dance has the power to transcend our daily blah's. Waltz can make you feel like a member of the royal court (without all the paparazzi and stress). Foxtrot can transform you into one of the Rat Pack. Tango...well, if you've done tango, you know. If you haven't - you should! I could go on, but I think you get the picture and I'm really craving a margarita now.
For a professional, it's easy to forget the romantic quality to dance because we're so busy trying to perfect them. I'm as guilty as anyone I know. I use the excuse that for me, it's fun to look good and move with every part of my body. And this is 100% true, but when I perform, somehow magically (or maybe just naively) I get as carried away as the first time I danced with that hot Latin stranger. I stop thinking about "perfect" and focus on the intoxication of the moment.
You can tell when there's no joy in a performance. If that day ever comes for me, I'll stop performing. The same is true for social dancing. When it becomes more work than fun, you should change dances. NEVER stop dancing! Besides the emotional release, dance is a phenomenal physical work out. Studies have shown it's also the only sport that reduces the risk of alzheimer's! The music and element of physical touch (whether with someone we love or a hot stranger) feeds our souls. And in a world where we're becoming more plugged in yet sadly tuned out - we need touch.
Who cares if you don't know the steps. Or the rhythm. Or even the name of the dance. Stop making excuses and dance already! I don't remember where I read, "Kids. They dance before they realize there isn't anything that isn't music." but it's completely true. So get in touch with your inner child and I'll see you on the hardwood!:)
Tonight I taught a combo that called for some traveling. On a crowded salsa floor this wouldn't be as possible, but the Avalon has a luxurious amount of space, so I wanted to take advantage of it. Those of you who dance with me or take my lessons know I like to move!
Which raises questions quite often. The most common one being, "But I thought we were supposed to take small steps?" You are. Especially when the floor is packed. But, if you have room, and you can support the movement, then you get to take stronger steps - which to the lay person will look bigger.
I assure you, there's a big difference between a large step and a strong step. A person who's taking large steps is one you want to avoid dancing next to, because it's almost a guarantee you'll get a high heel to the achilles. Trust me, it's not as fun as it sounds. A person taking strong steps is one who knows how to control their weight and can stop on a dime when necessary (which is quite often in the salsa world) so you can trust them to avoid surrounding couples.
"But isn't it the guy's job to watch out for other people?" Yes, however, there are a lot of people spinning around you and he's only one man. Add to that the fact you're spinning as well, and it becomes quite tricky to keep track of everyone. Pile on the little tidbit that each couple around you has an agenda your man knows nothing about, so he's basically attempting to read minds (and we know how well that works out from our personal relationships with them;). Top it with, one or more of the individuals in each partnership may be throwing their bodies through space and calling it dancing (when really it's more like human bowling) and it becomes mission impossible to prevent accidents.
As a woman reading this, you should be sweating by now with the pressure the guy deals with in regards to floor navigation. I haven't even tapped into the general pressure he feels to impress you, his partner, within your dance. That's a whole different ball game. I say this because ladies - you need to help the guy out! And protect yourself in the process:)
If you learn to control your weight; i.e. push from the floor instead of hurling your torso around and praying your feet catch up, you can stop whenever you need to to avoid a collision. So whether your lead sees the potential danger or not, you end up safe... what a concept.
To master effortless control on the dance floor, call me for a private lesson. It takes time and practice, and whether you're a beginner or an advanced dancer, you can always improve! See you on the hardwood! Hopefully stepping on less toes from now on;)
Someone informed me a great instructor once told him, "make a distinction between dancing and making love standing up". I agree, which is why I don't like Reggeaton. It's bumping and grinding at its max. Blech!
However, I also think, if you love the person you're dancing with - people should be able to tell. Whether it's your smile, your eye contact, your slightly sexier styling, anything - as long as it's something. You want to avoid going into auto pilot when you dance.
This can be especially tricky at the end of the night when your feet are getting tired... along with the rest of your body. You start thinking about all the things you have to do the next day and how you really should be getting home, but there are still some names on your dance card. How to marry the two?
I try to find joy in the little things. A certain partner's relaxed style, another partner's sheer joy while dancing, or maybe just their smile is enough to make it worth it. It's hard sometimes. I get it.
What I'll offer besides looking for the little things, is this: if you can't find joy because you're starting to get dizzy you're so tired - go home. Tell your dance card peeps you'll take a rain check. I'm sure they won't be offended because they've read my earlier blog;)
And on that note of being really tired, I'm going to keep this entry super short. Be intimate with your special someone if you have one. If people don't want to see it, they don't have to watch. I'd love to say, "be classy" or "some things are meant to be private". The problem there is, where's the line? To some, a sexy look is too personal. To others, close body contact is uncalled for. Worrying about what others think is a slippery slope indeed.
Bottom line - I'm not going to let other people's perception dictate how I dance. You're never going to please everyone. Work on pleasing your partner for this dance. I will "dance like no one is watching" - especially with my husband on our one date night a month!
See you on the hardwood!:)
You've waited all week for Dance Floor Etiquette 201 -now it's time for the payoff. The answer to the provocative question: when is a "yes", a "Yes!;)". Before I dive in, I need to preface this blog with, let's call it "a hilarious truth"... I'm not the best person to answer this question, because - to me, it's always just dancing!! Even before I was married, dancing was dancing. Fun... not foreplay.
Now, if you're still reading, I'll share the wisdom of some of my friends who reveled in using dance (especially the Latin dances) as foreplay. Quick note about this that ties into last week's blog: this is the reason some guys won't ask certain women to dance. If the guy knows she is spoken for off the dance floor, he doesn't want to offend the other guy (or get his a*^ kicked), so he won't ask the woman. I remember a couple of years back, my husband and I were at La Rumba and I asked a guy to dance and he said, "Oh! I was hoping to dance with you, but I didn't know if you were dancing with other people." Clearly, to a lot of people, it's not just "dancing".
So, how do you know? I'm going to put this communication responsibilty on the ladies. For multiple reasons, the least of which is not that the guy has fourteen other things to focus on when you're dancing. Basically, no gentleman wants to force an intimacy issue. So to my guys I say, always assume you're just dancing. To my ladies I say, if you want more than a dance, make sure he knows it.
But Allison, what if I'm shy? What if I'm scared? What if I want him to ask me out? OK, I hear you. You know the saying "nice guys finish last"? It's not true. The truth is, "Shy guys finish last." For the sake of arguing, let's say "shy people". How long are you willing to do and/or say nothing while life passes you by. If you want something, the least you can do is vocalize it! If you want more than a dance from a guy, maybe you could say something like, "Wanna get some water?" (Feel free to substitute your own accent there... I know we're not all from KY).
"But I'm scared he'll say no." Tough cookies! (Can you tell I'm trying to work on my cursing... the woes of a mother;). As we've discussed in previous blogs, no is unfortunately a part of life. And asking him to the water fountain isn't exactly throwing yourself at him. He might say no tonight, but ask you next week. Or never. Either way, grow a backbone and go for it.
"Well, I'm old fashioned, and I want the man to make the first move." I feel you! I'm the same way. In fact, I've written multiple screenplays about that very subject. If this is the case, you need to make it very clear through body language and eye contact that you want more than some smooth eight counts from him. And, if he doesn't respond, (isn't excited to dance another song with you or starts looking away uncomfortably) you need to back off. No lady wants to force an intimacy issue either.
It's actually pretty simple to recognize whether someone is in to you or not. You just have to pay attention. Is s/he looking at you or looking anywhere but you? Does his/her smile touch their eyes, or is it the "I'm smiling because Allison told me to in one of her blogs" face? Or worse yet, they're not smiling at all - quite the no-brainer there.
Do you dance with this person every week or do they make excuses half the time? Have you danced with them five songs in a row? Mutually! Or does s/he try to thank you and walk away after each song? When you get close, does the other person stay close comfortably, or do you feel them stop breathing and start pulling away?
I told you: it's not rocket science. If you want to play it safe - always assume it's just dancing. Don't ever assume you're hot stuff and everyone you dance with is dying to jump your bones. That's quite simply not even in the realm of truth. And no one likes to dance with that guy or gal. Remember, before dancing is anything, it's FUN. And if it's only ever that... Awesome!
See you on the hardwood:)
Allison loves to write almost as much as she loves to dance, so no one had to twist her arm to get her to write about dancing!