11/17/2011 1 Comment
Rules of the game
I had a request tonight for a blog post. (How exciting for a new blogger!) He wanted me to write on the rules of Salsa for a new guy. However, he said he was going to send me something about it - so, because I don't want to miss any angles he wants covered for the men - tonight I'll focus on the ladies.
Ah, ladies...how we love our dancing. We love the outfits, the music, the turns! We can get a little excited, let's admit it. And while we're opening up, I'll start: I'm the worst of all! I've never met anyone more excitable than myself. (Sometimes in private lessons when students do well, I literally jump up and down! If you've never seen me teach, just count the number of exclamation marks in a blog...and I'm really trying to limit that?!) The good news is, it's OK to get excited. People feed off your enthusiasm. We just have to remember dance is like a conversation. We obviously don't scream with ecstasy for entire conversations - so why do we let our bodies run away (most often, without us) when we dance?
So, rule #1 is stay excited (or get that way if you're not because dancing is downright Awesome!) just keep it within reason. Be bubbling on the inside, but controlled on the outside. Basically, you should simmer. (And aren't we thrilled when we can get things to simmer properly. It's a mess when the sauce boils over. Don't be a mess. I'm suddenly hungry...)
Rule #2: Smile! Leading is HARD Work! Guys have gone through a lot of trouble and put in a ton of effort basically to impress you. Cut 'em a break! A smile helps them relax and get out of their own way a little. Again, remember the conversation analogy - imagine how weird it would be to have a conversation with someone who smiled the whole time. You'd start looking for their Stepford switch.
So, smile when he gathers the cojones to ask you to dance. Smile when he starts. Then look at his chest for a while. Check in with some eye contact but refrain from inadvertently staring him down the whole 3.5 minutes. Smile after he leads a move particularly well - even if that move is a cross body lead. Smile at the end of the dance as you thank him for dancing with you. But, most importantly, smile when you or he makes a mistake!! We all do it. We have to learn to laugh at ourselves! Life's too short people. (And to quote the Indigo Girls: "it's only life after all".)
#3: FOLLOW!! If I had a dollar for every woman that has told me "I've gotta lead" or "I'm a natural leader" or "I'm no good at following" or my personal favorite: "He's a terrible lead. I'll do it" I'd have my son's college already funded. Ladies, as previously mentioned, leading is a lot of work! We don't want any part of it. Or at least, we shouldn't. The dance floor is the one place where we can relinquish control and just look beautiful! Revel in it!! (Plus, why do you think guys dance? It's nice to finally be able to tell the woman what to do once in a while. Let him!)
I know it's hard! I could've shaved three years off my learning curve if I had just followed sooner. I thought I was being helpful (or smart) by back leading. I wasn't! Learn from my mistake...don't be that girl! His task of deciding early so he can execute a move properly is hard enough without us throwing our own agendas in there. We want to dance with him, not fight him. If we don't listen, i.e. wait, there's no way he can communicate his moves. Again, ponder how much you'd enjoy having a conversation with someone who's too busy talking about themselves to let you get a word in. Probably not much. I repeat - don't be that girl. I could go on and on about this one, but it is 11pm and I have two kids who wake up at 7am.
#4: Control your own weight. This is a biggie ladies (even if you only weigh in at 80lbs). It's the guy's job to suggest the move, the woman's job to accept. I'll go over this more when I talk about the guys' rules, but in short: when he asks us to move somewhere, we don't ask him to pull us there. We have to stay on top of our legs. We have to move when he says move and stay when he says stay. Woof, Woof! (But at least we get the chance to be sexy bitches;)
If we're throwing our bodies through space, we're not controlling our weight. (We're also a danger to everyone around us). Take controlled, small steps. Not wimpy, weak steps - cleverly calculated ones. You'll be surprised how many problems this fixes!
Next on the list: Land your turns. This is tied to the previous rule, b/c if you're controlling your own weight you'll be able to stop on a dime, but it takes practice. Here's the truth: everyone can turn. Not everyone can stop. When you get stepped on on the floor, it's most often from someone who is falling out of a turn. Learn to stop with control. Call me for a lesson, we'll go over it:)
Connect your arms. Arm movement should start from your center and/or back. Flailing your arms about in an attempt to look sexy is anything but. It has to come from a source of power. All things grow inside to out. The same should be said of your arm movement. Play with this in front of a mirror and don't be afraid to get silly with how much you move your center. It might look better than you think.
Last, but not least, (and this - like most dance lessons - is a life lesson as well) is the Golden Rule. Treat others as you want to be treated. Few things break my heart more than a dancer with attitude. It's so sad that s/he has forgotten that they probably sucked when they started. Even if they were fast learners, they did some things really wrong. And let's face it: we're all still learning! Or at least we should be. It'll be a sad day if I ever think I know enough. So try to be kind and find a way to have fun with everyone you dance with. You never know who's life you might change:)
I hope this was helpful. If all else fails ladies, take comfort in this: you'll probably never make as many mistakes as I have (and sometimes still do) on the dance floor. Re-read rule #2, and I'll see you on the hardwood!
11/10/2011 1 Comment
Hardest part is getting there...
Let's be honest - sometimes going out dancing feels like a task. You've had a long day, a long week, a long life...whatever. Driving all the way to the club, hoping people you know are there who will ask you to dance, praying you like the lesson - it can seem overwhelming and not worth the effort some days. But dance is like the gym: the hardest part is getting there.
Shame on us. 99% of the time, you feel awesome
after dancing! (The other 1%, you weren't trying hard enough - or you got stepped on a lot). Even if you're still learning and the only thing you picked up was a basic - it's still fun. (And a great work out so you can skip the gym that day;). The music is pumping, people are smiling, even if you don't find anyone to dance with (which is crap - just go ask someone!) you can still watch and learn...though you will still have to go to the gym in that case.
What version of ourselves are we becoming when we complain about going dancing? Definitely not one I'm proud of. So, here are some tips to keep your feet moving - even when it's cold and dark outside.
1) Keep your dance shoes and a water bottle in the car. The less you have to "load up", the easier it is to actually walk out the door. (Warning: in winter, your shoes will be cold. It has a nice effect on the water though:).
2) Make a date with a friend or significant other. This way, you have an accountability partner who will give you shit if you flake. (Or better yet, physically drag you out the door).
3) Try to meet at least one new person each time you go dancing. Before you know it, you'll have tons of dance partners (and what you'll be wishing for then is enough down time to use the loo). It's not as hard as you think, most people love the social aspect of dancing and are looking to meet new people.
4) Listen to your favorite dance songs during the day so you're itching to move when evening rolls around. Bonus: this one also improves your general mood.
5) If you have the money in your budget, buy a new dance outfit. Or even one new piece: a skirt, a shirt, it doesn't have to be flashy, but you have to feel good in it so you'll want to show it off. Or go all out and buy some new shoes! Hell, if you have enough money in the budget, buy me some new shoes! Sorry, I'm getting a little excited.
6) Write your dance day(s) on your calendar so you start looking forward to them. (Yes, I still have an old fashioned, paper calendar I write on in pencil. I told you I'm not technologically savvy.)
7) Finally, and this one applies to life in general, make a decision and stick to it. Don't talk yourself out of things! The time spent thinking of excuses could be half your commute. (Read my previous blog). Just get in the car!
Even when dancing totally sucks - it's still more fun than most things! Where else do you really get to let your hair down and sling it around. How often, in daily life, do you get to shake what your momma and daddy gave you. And it's like a free workout. You can even save money and cancel your gym membership. (See #5 when you run into some extra cash;)
So, my fellow dancers, I will see you on the dance floor...and we'll all be happy about it! Goodnight!
11/3/2011 4 Comments
OK Dance Fans, bear with me - I'm starting a blog. Those who know me well know I'm not what you would call
"technologically savvy", but I'm being led into this world and just like a woman on the dance floor - I must follow. The topic of this ground breaking new blog: excuses!
We've all heard the saying, "Excuses are like a^*holes, everybody's got one." Well, not anymore! Right here, right now - I'm debunking that phrase, as it pertains to dancing. (Of course, you'll still have that ever important orifice - I'm only hoping to eliminate the excuses...let's keep it clean people;)
As a teacher, I hear every excuse imaginable as to why people can't (or don't) dance. Allow me to throw some reality your way. I have two glorious children under the age of two. Both were c-sections, and the youngest is 3.5 months old. I've been back on the dance floor for at least a month now, and yes, I'm out of shape and breathe a little heavier than I used to - but dancing is going to solve both of those issues! What a fun, brilliant solution:) And with two kids it is hard to find the time to dance; but I'm always amazed at how many people accomplish So Much... seemingly with the same 24 hrs I get everyday. Maybe the time I waste wishing there were more hours in the day could be used bustin' a move...hmm.
It's not my intention to toot my own horn, I'm merely speaking of my experience. To further illustrate my point, (and blow your mind), I want to tell you about a student I'll remember my entire life. Before meeting him, I used to say to people, "If you can walk, you can dance". This man made me rethink that statement because he walked into my studio using a cane. He couldn't walk unassisted - he had MS. But his daughter was getting married and he wanted to dance with her on her wedding day. (Yes, you should be reaching for tissue about now). So we started slow and built up his strength and flexibility. In the end, he was able to keep time, lead a turn, and turn himself. His dream of dancing with his daughter on her most important day came true because he didn't indulge excuses!
We've probably all seen (via video, if not in person) people in wheelchairs dancing. I personally know a salsa dancer who only has one arm. I could go on, but do I need to? (And I think these blog things are supposed to be short...whoops.)
What I'm trying to say is Damn the excuses! Be thankful for two left feet and bad rhythm because it means you're trying. That's all any of us can do.
See ya' on the dance floor:)
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!
All Dr.Seuss Life's A Dance Oh The Places You'll Go See You On The Hardwood