Dear Salsa Freak,
I have just started private Salsa lessons. The challenge I am having is that my wife is now quite an accomplished dancer. The truth is that I just took two classes with her when she started about two years ago, she begged me to go, but because I didn’t like “Salsa” at the time, I quit, and told her never to invite me to a club, because I didn’t like the “scene”. Well, now I never see her anymore, we’re having problems, and I thought I may need to start taking a few Salsa lessons.
What I need to know is when should I start trying to dance with the accomplished dancers that I know, including her. It seems as though unless it is a private lesson the high-end dancers don’t want to waste their time with people that aren’t great yet. We can’t show them off as well. When and where should I go to dance in public? Should I go and just watch the foot work? When should I start trying other steps? Why is it that so many great dancers don’t really even use the “Basic Step”?
A True Salsa Freak Fan.
Dear Salsa Freak Fan,
You’ve asked a ton of questions, let me see if I can answer them one at a time.
As I read your questions, deep emotions swell up inside of me. It’s difficult to completely open up and be truthful about. Sometimes the pain is far too great to bear.
I find myself now, trying to bury the past by enveloping my mind to daily tasks, my work, etc.
… whew. OK.
I will answer, with my heart on my sleeve, and brutal, open honesty. (closing her eyes, going back in time, remembering…)
Opening up to a different person in time – a different person in a different chapter of her life…
It’s too bad that you didn’t start with your wife when you were too busy being bull-headed and proud about “Salsa Dancing” to begin with. You two could have grown together and been partners. Sometimes we must sacrifice for our spouses, especially if it means she will be in the arms of many a handsome man every evening while you’re at home watching television.
But the past is past, and now you’re trying to make up for it. I can see why. She probably looks gorgeous as she walks out that door, waiting to be in the arms of 100 different men that evening. I’m sure it just kills her to just leave you at home, but then again, why didn’t you go? I know, I know, it’s all in the past.
Hmmmm. What do you do now? You’ve decided to take lessons. If I were you, I would take private lesson after private lesson after private lesson, then go dancing to places where she is NOT GOING. You will know that you are “ready” when a high-end dancer (that you don’t know very well) will dance with you more than once in one evening. You’ll need to go out at least 5 nights a week for about 4-5 months to touch your wife’s level at this point (as you can see, you’re a little late…).
If you insist on dancing with her now, both of you will have an absolutely miserable time. You will be miserable because you aren’t “getting it”, and she will be miserable having to teach you while all her other friends are giving her weird looks, dancing the night away, and having a blast without her. Nobody will be used to this. Her friends will wonder why she’s not dancing with them, she will want to go balls-out and just “dance”, but will feel obligated to doing the “Basic” with you. Even if she does dance with someone else, the weight of your stare will prohibit her from letting herself go, and just having fun. She will subconsciously feel guilty for allowing another man to touch her while you just sit there and watch.
I know this is tough news for you, but it’s the bottom-line truth. You will get jealous, and leave frustrated. She will feel guilty, and leave unfulfilled. You’ve got to learn on your own. You’ve got to pay the price like she did. And most of all, you’ve got to do this for YOU, and not for her. Your going to clubs at this beginner stage will be like “invading her space”. She probably got real “good” because she went out A LOT without you. Now this has become her own “private aerobics class”, and your coming in at a beginner level will frustrate and maybe even embarrass her.
Keep in mind that accomplished dancers – especially if they are not full-time teachers – are NOT INTERESTED in teaching beginners at the club. They are there to RELIEVE the day’s frustrations and forget about LIFE for a while – not worry about making sure you “get it”. They want to be lead, not LEAD.
They had to start somewhere, so they started at the bottom, and rose to the top, very slowly, some faster than others, but they were just as frustrated as you in the beginning. We ALL had to pay the price. There are NO SHORTCUTS. You’ve got to pay the price, you’ve got to keep going, you’ve got to pick yourself up when you fall, and just keep at it, and keep at it, and keep at it, night after night, week after week, until one day it FINALLY all comes together. That day is a rejoice to us all.
My advice to you is this. Take as many privates as you can afford (if you’re a guy, take the majority of your privates from a man). Dance with the instructor as often as possible. Take privates from as many different instructors as you can. You can go to “beginners” clubs.. Also, you can ask around if there are any “practice parties” or aerobics classes that use Salsa music and the Basic Step as part of the Aerobics session.
But the bottom line is that you must dance with many, many, many different women to get good. Start dancing with the beginners, and on occasion, dance with a good dancer, like your instructor. Just, go, go, go, and go with confidence. Confidence is the most important aspect of dancing. More important than steps and turns. Remember that. Then, after about 6-7 months of doing all the above, you can confidently go up to your wife, and ask her for a dance, and completely blow her away…
About accomplished dancers not dancing the “basic”. In any style of dancing, once you get to a certain level, the basic step really doesn’t look “basic” anymore. People do so many variations that it’s virtually impossible to distinguish after a while. You’ll see what I mean after about the first 5 months. Sure, you can go to clubs and hang and just watch footwork, but I suggest you do footwork with your instructor. He or she will show you new steps and moves as they see you progress. If you don’t progress, they won’t either.
DO WHATEVER IT TAKES.
Set a goal for yourself and write it down. You can read about how I got started. There I talk about my struggles and frustrations, and how I did whatever it took to get good. It was not easy, but it was definitely worth the price I paid. You have GOT to love the music, the people, the scene, the crowd, the atmosphere, the club, the band… everything. It must be “you”.
If you’ve analyzed the whole thing after a good solid month or so, and it’s still, just not “you”, then don’t waste your time.
Maybe you should have thought twice about cheating on her to begin with. She would have never even thought about dancing Salsa if you would have been the husband she thought she could trust, honor and respect.
My bottom line advice: It’s too late. She’s too far gone in the Salsa Addiction and Lifestyle. Nothing you can do now can change all that. Go find another wife, but this time, be TRUE to her.
Keep practicing …
With Love and Respect,
Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!