Like all good children’s books, I am very much tempted to lead off with a platitude along the lines of “…we pick up our story where we left off, with Theresa and David very sleepy after eating their body weight in dumplings.”
So let’s run with that and dive head first into the social morass that is beginners salsa dancing classes, which makes up part deux of our trilogy of D dates. If we were Star Wars, THIS would be our Empire Strikes Back, albeit with much less swamps, snow and, erm, tauntauns.
Let’s clear up our dancing backgrounds right from the get go shall we?! Theresa is a seasoned pro, someone with an inbuilt rhythm, nay, ability to synthesize dance moves through her eyeballs, like some sort of weird flower-human-dance hybrid. Hence the reason she looked so pumped about the opportunity.
The highlight of my dancing career thus far has been a number of repeat performances as one of the token guys back in my Year 8 dance class. We rocked out our school, then our neighbouring school, THEN THE LOCAL PRIMARY SCHOOLS AND RETIREMENT HOMES! We were huge. Granted, we probably owed Danny Elfman plenty of money royalties, given our routine was entirely on the Mission Impossible theme. But these were heady days, pre-Napster days, a moment in time untouched by digitally spread copyright infringement. But I digress.
The point is that despite salsa being my idea, my dancing is weak to say the least. But! Nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Without a shadow of a doubt it was, by far, the most enjoyable dancing experience I’ve had post-Danny Elfman. Salsa, I learned, is relatively easy to pick up, provided you’re happy to ignore/do away with numbers 4 and 8 in your eight step count. (I found out later this was because beats 4 and 8 are pauses, dramatic, pregnant or otherwise…) It is very hard to master of course, as doing even the most basic of steps to anything resembling proper dancing music is fraught with difficulties.
I thought I was doing ok at this too, despite Theresa’s giggling assertion that I looked like a martial arts robot trying to boogie (there’s a mental image I bet you weren’t expecting. Imagine, Clue from Tron, dancing to “Kung Fu Fighting”…) Even at speed I was doing ok, and the ever changing partners forced you to concentrate on what you were doing. I mean, it’s ok for me to step on Theresa’s feet, but the poor little Asian girl opposite me probably wanted to keep her toes.
I quickly got used to the basic (up and back as above),the cucaracha (yes, like the cockroach, side to side), the on-the-spot walk, the egg hold arms (we don’t want unsightly, stiff elbows on sides! You want a slight bend at the elbows, hands curled over as if lightly grasping two eggs. And now, shuffle!), and the ‘pizza’ turn (man steps forward, left hand up flat as if holding up a slice of pizza and now…turn!). Hell, even the ‘body-roll’ – a kind of vertical worm wiggle hip to hip – didn’t throw me off my game, though our teachers were quick to assert that excess pelvic thrusting wasn’t necessary or tolerated. (Makes you – well, me at least – wonder whether anyone has received a restraining order from a beginners salsa class yet?)
But like true teachers (Mum, Dad, you can relate to this I’m sure), our perpetually smiling assassins of dance reasserted their dominance in the jungle of rhythm and hot footwork, just to “…show us what it can look like, sometimes, you know?”
Yes, well, now I do know, and I know I have much work to do! Note Theresa’s stunned look of concentration in the background.
The good news is we were more inspired than disheartened. We’ve already practices our basic moves, spins and faux partner-changes at the 55 tram stop, the soft drink aisle of Woolworths and the lounge room at home. Salsa is in us now, bursting to get out, so stay tuned potential wedding invitee, you may see us cutting up a rug salsa-style come November!
Massive props to the guys and gals of the Salsa Foundation. They run free beginners (Level 1) classes every Wednesday and Thursday at Stella Maris, and I can confirm that if they can make this robotic ex-Tae Kwon Do dude feel like a dancer, then they can make anyone feel like twinkle toes. It’s definitely worth checking out.
Thanks too, to the rotating group of partners we both danced with on the night. We sincerely hope we didn’t crush your toes, grip your hands too tight or pelvic thrust you out of the building.
The final installment aka Return of the Jedi for Date D will be held in early February. Dessert is on the cards people, and it WILL be epic. Theresa in the meantime will be scheming up things for E date so stay tuned!