Learn to Salsa dance with Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
By Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!

Like most people, I had a normal “Nine to Five” job. I was working as a contractor for the US Government. I didn’t particularly enjoy my job, but it was a career in technology, had stability, and paid the bills.

I was “sitting down and not moving” for eight to ten hours every day at my work desk. I commuted an hour to/from work as well, again “sitting down and not moving” in my car. I wasn’t really watching my weight. I didn’t realize after a few years that the pounds started creeping up on me. I didn’t really notice that much. It happened very slowly. My business suits during the week got larger every year, and baggy comfortable clothing became the norm for me on weekends. Before I knew it, I could only squeeze into a size 14, and weighed a whopping 170 pounds “ and I was just a tad over 5’1” on a good day! (I am now 5’3” two decades later because of my Posture Brace)

I had NO IDEA I had swelled up to that size. I used to be super athletic as a kid but wasn’t any longer because I was working full time during the day, and finishing up my college degree at night school “ which is where AGAIN, I was constantly “sitting down and not moving” at my school desk, listening to the instructor.

When I finally graduated from college, I was elated, but felt a strange “void” in the evenings because I was so used to going to school at night after work. I wanted something to do with my newfound “time”.

My husband was always gone on some business trip someplace so I found myself alone at home quite often. He had a job that took him all over the world “ but without me. I envied both him, and his job. For half the year he travelled to far off countries to fix “large projects”. My little tech-job in LA only took me to San Francisco about once a month. I appreciated so much that little trip every month! I was convinced that I would always have a local job that just kept me here in the United States – forever. Dreams of world travel were only left to the stories my husband would tell me when he got home. I couldn’t WAIT to hear about his travels to far off countries and side-trips to exotic places. I would listen like an eager child hearing her first exciting bedtime story” wide-eyed and full of questions and wonder. I would dream at night of going with him, and even got the opportunity once where we spent an entire month in China together when we were first married. It was AWESOME. In fact, it was during our honeymoon! He accidentally scheduled the trip to be on our wedding day. I guess he forgot. You can even see him on the wedding video checking his suit pocket for his airline tickets while the minister is speaking our wedding vows.

After I graduated from college, I had more time in the evenings. I had just turned thirty years old. I was relatively happy with my career and was content with my life. I was so happy that my college days were finally complete. There were a few things that I wanted to start doing to keep myself occupied while my husband was gone. I had more time to check the bills, check the receipts, and check my husband’s itineraries. To make a very long story short, I realized that my husband had been cheating on me “ for quite a while. I was devastated, to say the least. I analyzed my lonely life one night, and I started looking at what I could possibly do to improve my “self”.

Victims of infidelity often feel they are no longer “good enough”. We start coming down hard on ourselves and everyone around us. Bitterness and resentment creeps in our hearts and dominates our lives.

That is what happened to me.

About three years before I found out about my ex-husband’s unfaithfulness, I started developing horrible asthma and allergic reactions to virtually everything. I went to Specialists for advice. The doctors told me I was chronic and needed weekly shots, a respirator, special bed sheets, and air ventilation systems installed in our home because it appeared I was allergic to EVERYTHING: Cats, dogs, dust, pollen, trees, plants, birds, livestock – you name it, I was allergic to it. For three years I was forever sneezing and blowing my nose. I hated that. My nose was always red and dripping. I felt like my husband was a SAINT for putting up with my runny nose all the time. At times when he was home, he would gently nudge me in bed at night so I would stop wheezing so loudly because my lungs were filled up with asthmatic fluid. I couldn’t breathe, and I couldn’t do ANYTHING about it. I was miserable. I surrendered to the fact that I would have to learn how to live like this for the rest of my life. At the same time I was diagnosed with symptoms of Depression and it was suggested that I start taking medication. I rarely smiled nor laughed anymore.

There was ONE thing however that I knew for a fact I COULD control “if” I set my mind to it: My weight problem. I HATED the way I looked. I put on a lot of weight the past few years and something needed to get done – yesterday. I took a good look at myself in the mirror one day from every direction and was mortified at what I finally saw.


No wonder my husband was always gone!
No wonder he cheated on me!


Yup, what was staring right at me was ALL “Edie”. I couldn”t ignore it any longer. I wore baggy clothing on weekends. My large business suits during the week hid most of my fat and cellulite. Yup, PURE LARD FAT was ALL OVER MY LEGS AND BUTT. “Cottage cheese thighs” was an UNDERSTATEMENT to say the LEAST. Those were “MY” BIG THIGHS. All of them were ME. I was in denial far too long. Something had to be done and “NOW”.

So, like everyone else, I tried EVERY DIET and PILL on the market. I tried jogging. I tried swimming. I tried going to the gym every single day “ even TWICE a day. I even hired a personal trainer. It seemed I was getting more firm and muscular, but I was not losing the WEIGHT. “Oh, Edie, that’s just muscle weight” they would say. I was “maintaining” my weight consistently. Although my clothes were fitting better, I wasn’t losing the POUNDS – all 170 of them. It’s like they were just “stuck there” on my body “ and would not budge. The scale remained the same, day in and day out. The days it would go up, I became bulimic and threw up everything I ate that day. My insurance company profile said that I needed to weigh between 115 to 125 pounds to be considered “normal” for my height. NOTHING SEEMED TO WORK. I stayed the same weight and size for over a year “ no matter how much time I spent on the bike, no matter how many diet pills I took, no matter what diet I was on, and no matter how often I threw up” “ I remained the same size and weight.

Then one night, I discovered Salsa. Click here for that story

To be honest, I started dancing Salsa because there was a huge VOID in my heart. Somehow, dancing Salsa filled up that void with an unbelievable PASSION that was definitely missing in my life. I don”t know if I would have started dancing Salsa if my husband would have remained faithful. No one will ever know. Maybe he cheated because of the way I looked? Later, and after studying the timeline, I realized the allergies and asthma that attacked me so severely commenced around the same time he started cheating on me “ but I didn”t discover his infidelity until three years later. All I remember was that my symptoms just got worse and worse over time. I needed his love. I needed his time. His “love” was given to other women, and his “time” was at his job. I was starving for his love and affection and was slowly killing myself waiting.

I started making my Salsa nights a NIGHTLY THING. I started losing sleep and forgetting things.

I forgot about my allergies. I forgot about my asthma. I forgot about my weight problem. I forgot about dieting. I forgot out my gym membership. I forgot about carefully planning my meals, and I forgot to throw up. Once I got to the Salsa clubs, I forgot everything.

I would dance from when the lesson started at 7pm, until the lights came on at 2am – every single night of the week.

Let me repeat that.
“I would DANCE from 7pm until 2am SEVEN NIGHTS a week AT A MINIMUM.

(When you live in LA, you “CAN” do this)


Even my monthly work meeting in San Francisco didn’t stop me. It was great. I would fly in on a Thursday night, rent a car, check into the hotel, grab some fast food, slam it down while driving to the nearest Salsa club ANYWHERE and dance till 2am. The next morning (that same morning), I would get up at 6:30am, drink LOADS OF COFFEE, grab and slam another fast food breakfast, and make sure to bring my earplugs to work so I could go back to my rental car at lunch time for a small NAP “ not because I needed the recuperation from the night before, but because I needed the REST FOR THE NIGHT AHEAD.

I would fly back to LA that same Friday night (yes, I slept on the plane with my earplugs), grab more fast food someplace, and catch the best Los Angeles Salsa club open that night. I became addicted to ear plugs and Salsa simultaneously. To me, they were made for each other. They go hand-in-hand. They are a Match Made in Heaven.

As often as I could, I would assist the local Salsa instructor with their Beginner class at 7pm. Then I would assist with the Intermediate class at 8pm. I would then stay to social dance from 9pm till 2am. I would get to bed around 3am every night (morning I guess), then get up at 7am to get ready for work the next day “ or that same morning (after a while, there is no such thing as “tomorrow” for a Salsa dancer” it is just “later on today..”).

The only time I got a full eight hours of sleep was on Saturday mornings, except when my husband was home. He made me get up very early on Saturdays. I have no clue why. Resentment maybe? It was ok, because after we both went to church on Saturday nights, I would grab some fast food someplace, eat it in the car, and change from my church clothing to my Salsa outfit while driving, going 60 “ 70mph along the 405 Freeway headed South to Orchids nightclub in Orange County, California. I would barely make it there by 8pm so I could help with the Salsa Brava (Luis and Joby Vazquez) class. Joby was home pregnant with their soon-to-be-born daughter “Passion”, and Luis needed an assistant to help him teach the class. I was MORE than willing. I learned so much about teaching, and people, and patience” and how to eat VERY FAST.

My Salsa Addiction became so intense that when my husband was home, I still went dancing. I DID NOT CARE at that point. Nothing mattered to me anymore. I asked him to come many times. I begged, pleaded, prodded, but he would rather stay home and watch sports. Eventually he snapped at me for asking him. “Never ask me again”. He said one night. He seemed to be fine with staying home. We eventually got a divorce two years later.

What was even more unbelievable was that because I was no longer “depressed”, and started being nicer to people, laughing more and loving life. I got a 20% increase in salary at my job within a month of my Salsa Discovery! Looking back, I know for a fact that I started being deliriously funny and friendly to people only due to a tremendous lack of sleep. I started feeling like a “drunk” during the day “ but I don”t drink (I can”t stand alcohol). I was always laughing and joking around” I just didn”t care what people thought anymore. Everything was “light, airy and fun”. If you were a jerk to me, I would smile, give you a HUGE hug, and a loving pat on the back. I DID NOT CARE ANYMORE. I just wanted my Salsa FIX for the evening before I went to bed at night. That is all that mattered to me.

It was real. My reality became “Salsa”. That was ALL that mattered anymore. Nothing else was real.

Salsa became an addiction that was beyond comprehension even for me. When I look back on those days, I cannot for the life of me understand why I am still alive today. My day job was just a dream. The addiction became worse than cocaine. Every night, of every week, of every month I was dancing, and eating a LOT of Fast Food. I changed my clothes on the FREEWAY systems of California. I fell asleep at the wheel countless times. I am not at all proud to say that I was a FREEWAY HAZARD for most of the general public. I don’t even recall driving to/from clubs. I don’t know how I kept a full-time job. I can’t remember anything during the day, but I guarantee you, I can recall every second that I was dancing. I remember every turn, every lift, and every look of every guy I ever danced with. I can remember vividly the club parking lots, the interiors of the club walls, the restrooms, every band member, every song, every DJ, and every dancer. THAT became my REALITY. Everything ELSE was just a foggy DREAM.

This is what my Sundays looked like: I ate fast food breakfast, and then had my Salsa Dance Team practice (Salsa Brava at the time) from 10am until noon. I would then eat a Whopper and fries at Burger King, drive to Santa Monica Pier, where they had Salsa dancing from 2pm till 6pm. I danced virtually every song, grabbed and slammed more fast food someplace, then immediately went to the Third Street Promenade nearby, where they had (and still have) Salsa dancing outside from 6pm till around 9pm.

After that, I would change in the restroom at the nearby McDonald’s, grab two Quarter-Pounders with cheese, a Large French Fries and Diet coke with apple pie, then head over to Steven’s Steakhouse and dance till 2am. I tried NOT to eat before I went to sleep at night. On the way home in the car, I would BLAST Salsa music, roll down my car windows, and every so often, quickly rub both my hands together VERY FAST, to avoid falling asleep at the wheel.

THE FOLLOWING IS NO JOKE and dancers that “knew me when”” will not only agree that they too did the same madness, but will attest to seeing me EVERYWHERE at EVERY CLUB “ EVERY WEEK:

“ Mondays thru Saturdays: I danced from 7pm till 2am – 7 hours of dancing – every night.
“ Sundays: I danced from 10am till 2am with breaks for driving to/from clubs. ~ 12 hours of dancing “ every Sunday.

I danced from 7pm till 2am every night of the week “ and I mean EVERY NIGHT OF THE WEEK.
I lost (without realizing it) 20 lbs the first month, and then a consistent 5 lbs per month for the next five months. By month 7, I had lost a total of 50 lbs and dropped ten dress sizes. I was a RIPPED 119 lbs for The Mayan Salsa Competition of which we won first place less than a year after I started my first basic step.

I was eating MORE JUNK FOOD in LARGER QUANTITIES, than ever before. I quit “TRYING” to lose the weight. It just “came off”. I never even noticed the weight loss. I was too busy dancing and LIVING MY LIFE. The weight just magically and naturally came off. One day I looked in the mirror, and could not believe what I saw – a completely different person than a mere year before, both physically and mentally. I was still spiritually the same, but not physically in church! I was too busy DANCING!

Now that I am not dancing as much as I used to when I started, I have had to consciously change the QUANTITY and QUALITY of food that I eat. I now eat more frequently and in MUCH SMALLER quantities, and take in a higher percentage of protein than carbs. I don’t watch my fats however. This works for me now. Now that I am close to the age of fifty, to maintain my weight my caloric intake is less than 1000 calories per day, compared to the over 5,000 calories per day my first few months of dancing.

It is simple. You want to lose weight fast? DO WHAT I DID! FOLLOW YOUR PASSION “ no matter what it is, and have a TON OF FUN doing it!

PS: My allergies and asthma VANISHED into “Thin Air” the very first TWO WEEKS of my “Salsa Discovery”.

Happy Dancing!
– Edie, The Salsa FREAK!!
Edie The Salsa FREAK!! Website

Edie, The Salsa FREAK!! is one of the most recognized and respected Salsa Writers/Instructor/Performers in the world. In the past twenty years, she has traveled to 63 countries teaching the world to dance, and has been the first American to teach in 18 of those countries. She now lives in the high mountains of beautiful Colorado with her wonderful husband, Nick. You may contact her at Edie The Salsa FREAK!! Website