If you’re wondering if I ever made it to the salsa class on Monday night, I did! And it turned out to be one of the best decisions I never chickened out of. You know that blog post I wrote last week about living a big life? Well, I’ve found the perfect role models.
Richard Marcel and Lemon (Yes, Lemon!) are professional dancers who teach salsa in Chichester on Monday nights. They regularly choreograph for film and TV, including Strictly Come Dancing. And I think I am slightly in love with them both – for reasons which will become apparent in a moment.
So… on Monday I found myself outside a bar in Chichester. “Go and say hello to Lemon,” the guy at the door said and pointed to a girl with a shock of white-blonde hair. Gorgeous looking. Petite. Very cool. As I walked up to her I stupidly assumed she would be scary, but nothing could be further from the truth.
She was lovely. As, I was soon to discover, was every single person in the room.
The class started with a 15-minute warm which involved lots of hip wiggling to some booming Latin music. I did my best to follow suit. I’m not sure I succeeded, but I had a huge grin on my face.
Next came a 45-minute ‘LA Style’ class (apparently there are different styles of salsa). Lemon taught us the basic moves and I seemed to pick the steps up quite quickly. Hurrah! The only problem was where to look. Salsa means dancing with a male partner. This throws up an interesting question – where do you look when you are two inches from someone’s nose? I found I could only glance into my partner’s eyes for a split second before staring at my feet or the wall in front of me like a thing possessed.
So far so good.
After a quick breather, we moved on to a ‘Cuban Style’ class. And this is where things went a bit pear-shaped. Cuban-style salsa involves dancing in a circle and swapping partners or changing steps every time the ‘caller’ shouts out a command. It was at this point that my brain started to short-circuit.
Everyone seemed to be moving so fast and I didn’t have a clue what I was doing. A new partner would step up to me and ‘throw’ me one way or the other, and I’d blindly go where they threw me, hoping my legs and brain would catch up. (They invariably did, but about five steps too late.)
Forty-five minutes later, to my relief, the class ended. I was saying my goodbyes when the advanced dancers took to the floor, so I hung back for a moment to watch them. And this was when I got my first glimpse of what salsa is really about.
Every single person on that dance floor looked like they were having the time of their lives!
Their bodies moved effortlessly to the rhythm. And they were beaming. This energy and joy just seemed to emanate from them. Especially Richard and Lemon, who had been oozing this infectious vibrancy all evening.
I watched them and thought, ‘Whatever it is they’re experiencing right now, I want some of it.’
And with that thought, I went home.
I didn’t feel spectacularly different that night, but it seems dancing has a time delay. Because the next day I woke up and felt… different.
I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was but during the whole day at work, I felt lighter. I felt ‘looser’. I was, incredibly, more confident. It was like someone had cast a laid-back, happy spell on me. I seemed to flow through the day with more ease.
I’ll be heading back for a second dose next week, no question.
It’s too early to say whether salsa is my dance. But one thing’s for certain: whether it’s salsa, rumba, cha cha or tango, dancing needs to be part of my life. Full stop!