Saturday, April 08, 2006


Paul and I went out to our Salsa class last night. We only started going a few weeks ago and have had to miss a few weeks as our regular, trusted babysitter wasn’t well, so we are still very much in the beginner phase. I’m amazed by how much I enjoy it - which I’m conscious sounds a little odd given that I was the one who talked Paul into going.

I thought it would be a fun thing to do together – some time for us as a couple rather than a family. I also thought that it might be a good chance to show to Paul that actually he does dance well. (Paul consistently gets better scores than me on the occasions when we go on our playstation dancemat but dismisses this as ‘it’s not dancing; it’s just moving in time to the music’!)

Salsa is much harder than I expected. There’s a lot of different steps and moves - even within the limited ‘beginner’ repertoire. There is also an emphasis on it being a social dance so the aim is to be able to ‘mix and match’ these moves on the dancefloor – with the guy leading and the woman hopefully understanding what’s expected of her as she follows rather than being choreographed. I know that given a choice, I don’t usually undertake things in which I expect not to be at least vaguely competent. I think it’s partly a confidence thing – I don’t like the risk of looking like an idiot when it’s avoidable. I also think, why do something when I’ll almost certainly not be good at it, when I could use that time for something which I am better at doing. It’s probably got a lot to do with my perfectionist streak. All of which are reasons why I am amazed at how much I enjoy Salsa.

I like that Paul and I are doing something together, but that because we constantly change partners it’s a very different experience for both of us. I like feeling virtuous that I am doing something which could be (loosely) described as exercise on a Friday evening. I like that I need to use a part of my brain that I don’t usually use – the bit that co-ordinates my body to move in a planned /structured way rather than automatically. Trying to create from scratch the physical and intellectual memory for Salsa is a real challenge, and one of the things I most love about it. When I’m in the class, my whole brain power has to be applied to dancing – there’s simply no room left to dwell on any of the events of the week. It is a perfect and total switch off. And on top of that, it really doesn’t matter that I’m not any good. Lots of the other people aren’t any good either – but we’re trying, and having fun whilst we do it. And it’s an added bonus when I do get a sequence of steps right!

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