I thought I was a pretty good dancer in the North American style. For all of the songs of the 60s, 70s and 80s, I had rhythm. I may not have had steps that they would teach in a dance school, but I loved to get out there and dance, usually after I had had a couple rum and coke or the floor was sufficiently crowded that I would not be noticed.
On seeing me having a great time on the dance floor, my, now adult, daughter would be thinking, if not saying aloud, "Oh,DAD !". I could sense the mild embarrassment. No, I don't get drunk. That would not be me. I just get filled with enthusiasm.
Here in Ecuador I tried to apply the same moves to salsa music. My lady, Monica, could not hide her giggling. "That's not how you dance salsa !".
When I see it a couple on the dance floor who really know what they're doing, I think it is beautiful and I've always dreamed of being one of them. Clearly, if my life here in Latin America was to be enjoyed to the fullest, I had to learn to dance salsa.
After parting with a very few dollars, I was welcomed by the staff at Tropical Dance, a studio here in Quito that trains people for competitive dancing. While everyone else went to three one-hour classes a week, I went to six, plus practiced in my apartment, alone. All the other students were Latinos who apparently are born with the rhythm of salsa in their blood. Fortunately, everyone was kind and considerate of the gringo giant stomping like a clumsy horse on the dance floor. They laughed and we immediately became friends, as much as much as a group of 20 to 25-year-olds embrace someone old enough to be their grand-father.
The average Latino male knows two or three salsa dance steps. I now know eleven ! I must admit that I am still dancing by numbers: one – two – three – four.... One – two – three – four....; but Monica and I have begun to practice together and I am getting better, slowly. We are having fun.
Just when my immediate dancing concern was satisfied, another challenge appeared. Monica's daughter is to graduate from high school in June. That is a huge event involving the selection, for the ladies, of expensive formal dresses and me dressing up in a tuxedo. So what, you say. - In addition to my looking my best, I must be able to dance to Strauss waltzes. Oh my ! - More dance classes.
More to follow on this topic as I learn to count waltz steps; hopefully, in time with the music.
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