I’ve always loved to watch partner dancing, especially Latin dance. There’s just so much being communicated through the dancers’ movements without a word ever being spoken. I absolutely love it.
Years ago I had the opportunity to take a dance class as part of a friend’s birthday celebration. It was a one hour lesson followed by live music and other fun. I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. I’d always wanted to take dance lessons as a adult but never had a partner willing to join me, and I assumed it was B.Y.O.P. (bring your own partner) so that was that. What does a single girl do in a salsa lesson?
As it turns out they lined us up in groups of men and women facing each other, and on the prompt we were supposed to move on to the next victim. Looking down the line at the field of potential partners, I thought to myself, “This doesn’t end well”.
The “Square Peg”
My first partner wasn’t so bad. He was picking it up pretty quickly, but the combination of his inexperience and the fact that he was about a foot shorter than me (without my 3 inch heels) complicated things. It all fell apart whenever he was supposed to turn me. He could hardly reach over my head! We just weren’t a good fit. It wasn’t gonna work out.
My next partner was almost adorable. He was so excited to be there he could hardly contain himself. I think he was smitten with me because he stared directly into my eyes with a Kool-Aid smile the ENTIRE time we were partnered up. He was so distracted he wasn’t even listening to the instructor. Hello guy! You’re supposed to be leading. Snap out of it! And stop stepping on my toes! Next!
The “White Knuckler”
Partner number three was… special. The death grip he had on my hands might have left me handless if we had continued much longer. He was so unsure that he refused to lead, so I had to do it. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.
Oh partner number four. This guy was a real piece of work. I’m not even sure why he was taking the lesson because he already knew everything, about everything. In fact he didn’t seem to want to be instructed at all. He was completely unteachable and he yanked me around like a rag doll. Has it been an hour yet?!
Finally we came to the live music portion of the evening. It was also New Year’s Eve so we were ready to live it up. I watched the pros out on the floor and thought, “Man, I would love to dance like that. That’s what it’s supposed to look like.” At the bar I looked to my right and noticed a fair-skinned “manboy” with rosy red cheeks and a sweater vest. He looked a bit out of place at this particular party but for some reason he was getting a lot of attention. I was confused. I think he caught me staring because he asked me if I wanted to dance. Caught off guard, I agreed, and that’s when the magic happened…
Oh, did I mention that Manboy’s mother was the dance instructor? All I remember is that one minute I was standing at the bar, and the next I was flying around the dance floor like… I don’t know, like a “beautiful gorgeous feminine vortex” (Thanks for that one Dancing Irishman). I was stepping and turning like a boss. All because I had an incredible leader for a partner, plus I knew how to follow, so I made him look even more incredible (just saying). At one point I remember thinking to myself, “I didn’t even know my leg was gonna do that!” It was amazing and so much fun.
The next morning I woke up still floating on a salsa cloud, and that’s when it came to me that dancing is a lot like a love relationship. I believe that when you find a partner who is “on your level”, who is confident and not afraid to lead, who appreciates and respects what you bring to the table as an individual but also wants to grow with you, and who isn’t blind to your flaws but loves you in spite of them, you have the potential to dance together for the rest of your lives. Yes please…