From the mouth of a salsera…

Arriving at Cape-Town & Just Dancing Salsa!

 June 25th,  2012.

It’s pouring with rain in CPT, cold and wet. How very inspiring!

Coming from Hamburg I’m on business & time out at the other end of the world. So there are many evenings to fill even with a full schedule… I brought my dancing shoes, not really knowing what to do with them. Finally, I am a female social scientist, past my fifties, mother of five great kids – and not thoroughly a dancing queen and definitely not in a totally unknown country.

But then friends told me about “Just dancing Salsa” at the Barbosa, near the Waterfront. Hmmm.

“Why not give it a try,” I asked myself?

After some bad cancer events I had two Salsa classes in Hamburg which taught me at least when and where to put my feet, not with too much fun. That was not really “dancing”, that was more sort of jumping around rather clumsily. And so I felt: just clumsy. Should I really try again…???

I did, one Wednesday, stepping in on one of the Salsa classes with Lani & Carlos, Just dancing Salsa, being more scared than excited.

But what a surprise?! Even after only a few minutes it was good fun, though I was clumsily tapping around, getting confused with steps and rhythm in a foreign language and scarcely getting my feet out of the way of others. But Lani & Carlos just focussed on the positive results. So there were some veritable remarks like “awesome!” and “great!” every now and then coming from Carlos and they sound truthful, despite how I felt.

“This was hope,” I thought!

After this first lesson, which had brought me right in the middle of an advanced class, Carlos & Lani talked to me, suggesting stepping into the running courses and as well having “some additional private lessons” with both of them in order to keep up with the rest of the group and  “to get the feeling of Salsa”. Well, this sounds reasonable! They also suggested joining the Bachata beginner class in order to develop a better rhythm-feeling.

“Hmmmmm.”

Now let’s talk plain stuff: Bachata was the least I wanted to experience in CPT after two of those dances in Hamburg!

Me? No! Never ever! Not this knee bumping, hip wagging, dancing-with-my-legs-apart what-ever-it-was-thing!

But both were smiling at me. “You’ll just improve your understanding of dancing Latin rhythm…!” Carlos said with a broad and cheeky smile coming from under his fancy little hat while Lani just looked sweet and calm at me. Could I resist this innocent smile? No, I couldn’t.

So we agreed on me having an additional Bachata class as well.

When I was driving home that night, with rain pouring out of all heavenly doors and corners, I was happily smiling while trying to get my car right on the wrong side of the road. After all, everything was on the wrong side in this country: cars, gearstick, windscreen wiper, blinker, even the crossing lights. So why not do things which I promised myself never to do?

So from that moment onwards I was learning to dance Salsa & Bachata as well as driving on the left side of the road: Lani & Carlos made it easy, always indicating that Salsa was a social dance – and men were supposed to lead the way.

This was going to be a major topic during our dancing lessons. I realized this from my first private lesson onwards.

“Men lead the way on the dance floor, Cilia! Wait for me!” Carlos kept repeating.

Now, how can I accept that, being an old German business lady used to living a sort of self-determined life for many, many decades???  My mind would get the message but my body was just resisting. What was I supposed to do? How can you a man let lead the way? It really was a hard time for me…

I realized very soon that it was one thing to understand mentally of how to. But it was something totally different to have your body and steps being moved by a man! It was also especially because this moving & looking into the women’s eyes – my eyes! – actually was looking & feeling very sexy. Even if I felt unsure, I just had to watch Lani & Carlos: Yes, it was sexy! Very sexy indeed.

Oh boy…!

“One –two – three – and heeep! Five – six – seven – and heeep!” Lani’s teaching expertise kept us all busy, learning and laughing. This Bachata rhythm you will never forget, I tell you! So finally I fell in love with dancing Bachata.

 Anyhow – it was all simply studying and training and both Lani & Carlos were encouraging all their students to dance: after the classes, in between the classes, on every possible occasion! Since we regularly changed partners, being couples or not, everybody learned to dance with everybody else, and everybody got the same chances to experience to dance with either Lani or Carlos, meaning to experience the difference of dancing styles and levels. What varied experiences!

And very often there was this inspiring comment from Carlos, “Awesome!” when a turn was ok. And even if the person did not really believe the truth of his judgement, it still was giving confidence and certitude. Is there anything else you need on the dance-floor when you are a beginner?

I decided not!

So finally I ended up dancing Salsa or Bachata four times per week, taking every advantage of dancing Salsa in town. When walking up Lion’s Head, I still tried to do my Salsa rhythm and turns when nobody was watching. So sometimes people would look funnily at me on my way down.

And the really nice experience was: Very often Lani & Carlos would turn up at the Salsa Parties in town and we could watch them. It was always amazing to see how beautifully they were dancing, Lani swirling around and bending like an elf while Carlos seemed to lead her very soft and gently. But however beautiful they were dancing together, Carlos later would always be dancing with all their students while Lani was swirled around the dance floor by the other guys.

Even on the party floor Carlos would comment on the progress everybody had made with an “awesome…!” you just had to believe.

There is a moment when you really start believing that! And then progress starts by itself.

So after 6 weeks of training, fun, enjoying and party, I felt safe on the Salsa dance-floor! My turns are swift and gentle, I get the rhythm right (ok, mostly…), my partner runs a fair chance of leading me – and I had a wonderful time, much fun and lots of new and inspiring experiences!

And then I even found somebody to make my personally designed Salsa dress, which is now swirling around my legs when I turn…! IT IS really awesome!

 

August 5th, 2012, back home in Hamburg:

Thank you Lani, thank you Carlos, for those great weeks in Cape-Town!
Will be back soon.
xxx Cilia

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