Shall we dance?

  • 2009-10-07
  • By Anton Ponomarenko

IT TAKES TWO TO SALSA: Dance classes offer a fun way to spend an evening, and you can try some new moves.

RIGA - Many of us think that the definition of 'to dance' is 'to make chaotic movements under the strobe light and to the beat of DJ Alligator.' This is the reason why most of us either never dance, or do it at home where no one can see us.
I did go to a Ball Dancing class when I was in the 2nd grade, but a lot has changed during the years. The first thing that changed 's I have never actually danced since then. Until this Saturday, when I was dragged to a Salsa class. Despite my worst concerns, everything went pretty smooth and was rather enjoyable, except for one thing. I'd never go to a dancing class alone, because I'd have nothing to do there.

You don't usually go there to learn to dance, you go there because somebody else wants to and you just tag along. And as it was explained to me 's Salsa is a social dance, so you have to share! That means that you have to dance with all the others, except for the person that you came with. It is, perhaps, great fun for the ones who want to meet someone there, but not for the ones who tagged along with their partner. At least there was a clear division for boys and girls, and no dancing with people of the same sex was allowed. If you didn't get a girl, you'd be dancing alone, but never with another guy. Finding that out was a relief…

There are a couple of other weird things about Salsa, though. One of them is that when you dance, you count the steps in your head. That's fine with me, it's easier to understand the concept and concentrate that way. But it is kind of hard to count '1 2 3 5 6 7' while you're dancing, cause normally there would be a 4 and an 8, but in Salsa there isn't. 4 and 8 are left for the small pause between the sections of movements, or whatever they're called, and since a 'pause' by definition is 'when nothing happens' the creators of Salsa decided that where there's nothing - you don't count, either.

The other thing is that 'Salsa is all about having fun,' so you have to smile all the time. And if you don't, that means that you're doing something wrong, because you're not having fun, otherwise you'd be smiling. It's probably hard for the teachers to understand that smiling on purpose does involve thinking about it all the time, and that when you don't 's you're automatically back to the sad-face-setting. As a result of trying to manage to smile and dance at the same time, you are awkwardly moving with a face of a terrified idiot. The only thing that makes it alright is knowing that there are at least 20 other people with the same problem.

So basically if you're alone, a Salsa class is probably one of the best places to go to meet other people. Mostly people who do the Salsa are extraordinarily open, pleasant and sincere people so you will hardly find yourself in a situation with that awkward silence. The more experienced ones will be telling you how their life has changed since they came to their first class, the not-so-experienced will be talking about how they feel the energy bursting inside, every time they come to class, and the newbies will be babbling something similar but very loudly, because they think that the louder they talk, the more they look like they are experienced.

Despite several weird things, some of which I personally find rather unpleasant, this was a great experience and I'm definitely going again. Because I could always feel how something was missing from my life, and now I know that it was the Salsa and I honestly believe that as soon as I learn to dance well enough, my life is going to take the most unexpected, yet pleasant twist and everything will be a million times better.

Except that it probably won't… Because I don't expect it to, and most importantly 's because I like it the way it is now. But I liked the Salsa and I think that so will you, so don't be shy, no matter how old you are and if you don't look like Keira Knightley. There are a lot of schools all around various towns in the Baltics, which are going to teach you the basics of Dirty Dancing.

The one I went to is called 'Salsa Lovers,' they have free intro-classes and they say that they were the first and still the only school in the Baltics to release a training video on DVD. Think about it, and perhaps we'll meet in class.