Curious to know what my life as a dancer would be like, I immersed myself, day in, and day out, for one month in Cuban salsa. These are my stories and experiences from my month as a dancer told through a series of questions.
1. Why did you want to be a dancer for a month?
Dancing is a career I never pursued. Even though I love to dance, the few dance classes that I took when I was younger made me feel horrible.
I couldn’t keep up with the choreography. I didn’t understand it, couldn’t follow the pace and it didn’t stick. Being a dancer was “obviously” not an option.
But I am older now. Braver. More experienced in learning new things and I know that we can do anything we want–if we really want it.
Adding the Be a Dancer spin-off to the project would allow me to see if I don’t want to be a dancer because of my past experiences, or because I don’t like dancing as much as I think I do.
Being a dancer for one month could help me close a chapter once and for all, or it could be the start of a new life.
Moreover, as I was liking all the spin-offs so far, this month would function as a judgment test. Being a dancer for a month, I hoped, would help me to see the difference between doing things I like doing and the ones I don’t.
2. What dance style did you choose to learn and why?
If someone had told me a couple of years ago that I was going to learn to dance salsa, I would have raised one eyebrow and silently stared back. Dancing salsa wasn’t on my bucket list.
My generation frowned upon salsa. It wasn’t cool and the people who did it were neither. We called them swingers (pun intended). Moreover, it’s no secret Dutch can’t dance. This made the whole thing look even more ridiculous and unnatural.
My image of salsa wasn’t pretty. However, this changed during my travels to Curaçao and Sardinia. It’s on the streets of these countries that I saw people dancing a different sort of salsa.
I saw love, simplicity and enjoyment. Dancing salsa allowed two people who love each other to connect and have fun together. It wasn’t a sport and there was no acrobatics. This was something that I wanted for Mr. G and me.
We both love to go clubbing and dance together. Going to electronic music parties though, isn’t something we can do forever. But if we could dance salsa together, we would always be able to go out for a dance and to rekindle our feelings for each other in the precious way dancing together allows us to do.
The irony behind it all? Mr. G already danced salsa. So, salsa it was.
3. How did you experience this month?
Initially, I was scared. Afraid that I wouldn’t be able to memorize the steps and choreography. My fear was almost justified after my first salsa class. Luckily, it turned out, I wasn’t the problem but the “salsa teacher” was.
He wasn’t a teacher but a professional dancer. There’s a fundamental difference between the two. Someone might be a fantastic dancer, but this most definitely doesn’t mean he’s able to teach others to dance. (Related reading: So You Think You Want to Take Salsa Classes in Havana)
However, once we had found the right salsa school, my salsa skills were coming up quickly and neatly. The fears and ghosts from the past disappeared from my mind. (Related reading: Reviewing Salsa School La Casa del Son in Havana)
I loved our salsa teachers and enjoyed practicing salsa with Mr. G in our apartment. Furthermore, it was fantastic to be able to do this month in Havana, Cuba. I fell head over heels for the city.
The only disappointment was the actual salsa scene in Havana. There wasn’t much to it and it was catered to foreigners. It was also slightly disturbing to see the dance floors fill up with foreign middle-aged women and local boys. On the other hand, as I am a beginner, not having an awesome salsa scene didn’t affect me.
4. So, do you want a career in dancing?
No, I don’t.
I had a lot of fun this month, but as soon as it finished, salsa and dancing dropped from my mind. My preference still goes out to extreme sports and dancing can’t compare with that. It’s a different lifestyle.
5. What lessons did you take away from this month?
Never, ever, say never.
It will help you to not feel like a total idiot when you do things you said you wouldn’t.
Don’t judge what you don’t understand.
And the only way to understand is to go through it yourself.
Don’t make fun of people because of what they do.
They might end up becoming your significant other. But, seriously, you could hurt someone.
Dance more often.
6. What do you like best about dancing?
When I dance “alone,” for example in a club, I like how my body adapts to the rhythm of the music. It feels spontaneous and creative. Music and dancing make me feel alive. Both allow me to step out of myself for a while. Life becomes less serious, I become less serious.
When I dance with Mr. G, everything around us seizes to exist. There’s so much joy, love and laughter. It’s cheesy, like that Titanic scene where Jack takes Rose below deck to drink and dance with his friends–but I love it.
In general, dancing does wonders for the body and the mind. But, also, dancing is a great way to get yourself out there and become more confident. I wish more people would let themselves go on the dance floor–it’s such a great feeling.
Tell me what you think. Connect with me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram (links match discussion pages for this post) and let me know: Would you like to be a dancer for a month? What dance style would you choose to learn? If you are a dancer, tell me what you like best about dancing.
Not sure if you want to learn to dance salsa? Read on for my lowdown on the good, the bad and the ugly salsa: What Your Salsa Friends Never Told You. Or, to get an idea of what your salsa classes will look like, have a look at 9+1 Cuban-Style Salsa Lessons.