Yesterday, was my very first “real” social. When I say real, I mean that this was my first real social outside of the studio. That means I was all alone, and didn’t know anybody there. But, that made things even more exciting. The event was called “Dancing Under the Stars”, and it featured a live band playing traditional Salsa and Cuban music. It’s held the last Saturday of every month, and it’s a complimentary event. Since it was free and all that jazz, I expected a lot of people to show up. Plus, the weather was nice, and it ran from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm. There were also a ton of little kids there who were running all over the synthetic grass and dance floor. Normally, rowdy little kids with soccer balls and frisbees would annoy me, but it’s a free event and parents have every right to get the little ones out of the house for some fun on the town. I honestly didn’t know what to expect from this social, seeing as most of the people were couples, and I had no idea if I’d even get to dance at all. Turns out, the evening was full of surprises.
Mom drives me to the Plaza. I really wanted to use my new GPS so I could learn how to navigate around this huge city, but there were three parking garages to choose from and a maze of streets. Even Dad, who knows the city like the back of his hand, admits he gets frustrated around this part of town. So, it’s decided that I will be chauffeured to the venue. I feel like a thirteen year old rather than the twenty year old as she drives me there, but any feelings of chagrin are quickly washed away by the excitement of finally getting to dance during this two month hiatus. As soon as I arrive, I notice the swarms of little kids running around the area. It’s a bit disconcerting because there was sure to be dancing later that night, and the little ones were sure to be a liability as they seemed perfectly content to sprint back and forth across the dance floor. I secretly pray that the parents will have enough sense to put their little ones to bed at the appropriate time. Too bad I forgot it was a holiday weekend. Oy.
The band just announced it was officially party time, and the salsa music starts to play. If there’s one thing I’ve learned from all my school dances, it’s that the dancing never really starts on time. People want to chat and catch-up. So, I spend the first half-hour wandering around and enjoying the Latin rhythms. Of course, I didn’t strap on my Rhythm shoes for nothing. Periodically, I glance around to see if there are any prospective partners I could dance with later on in the evening. Nope, nothing but couples and a bunch of little ones. Oh well. I make like a sponge and just absorb the music.
I’ve had enough sitting, so I decide to stand on the dance floor and dance around a bit. It’s still filled with little kids, and no one feels fit to join in. A few minutes later, I notice two couples. Both of the women are wearing Rhythm shoes. It’s heartening to see other ballroom dancers here. Though, I do feel a little jealous at the fact that they both have their significant others to dance with. Finally, my stubborn sides kicks in. I think, “Screw this. It only takes one person to start a party. If I’m gonna have any chance of getting a dance partner tonight, I have to put myself out there and show ’em I can dance!” Feeling slightly ridiculous, I begin dancing salsa, cha-cha, and samba on my own, with people watching. Part of me is feeling a bit frightened by a rare bought of stage fright. The other half is busy reveling in the attention I’m receiving. Who knew dance could make you part diva?
I’m getting tired of dancing on my own, and decide to people-watch. It’s pretty fun actually. Suddenly, the lead singer of the band announces for us to make room on the floor. Apparently, a young man has a very important question to ask his lady-friend. We all cheer as he proposes to his girlfriend. He looks around at all his personal cheerleaders, quite nonplussed. It all worth it though because she said yes! Awww! The band plays a rumba for the two, and I use this opportunity to practice my Cuban motion.
Just a mere ten minutes later, I’m approached by a very nice, older gentlemen who looks to be about in his forties. He saw me dancing on my own earlier, and thought I was good. So, he asks me to dance. Score! Self-promotion actually works! He introduces himself as Doug, and he’s been taking Salsa lessons for two years. He has a very good lead, and I do my best to keep up. I’m a bit rusty from this darn hiatus, but he seems okay with it. Apparently, his teachers once worked for Schlumberger (pronounced “slumber-jay”), an oil company. One of them decided to start some salsa classes as a sort of extracurricular activity. In his words, “So, instead of playing softball after work, we do salsa after work.” That’s pretty cool, actually. There’s no doubt that I’d rather dance salsa after work than play softball.
8:00 pm-9:00 pm
I dance about five or six dances with Doug altogether. He spins me a lot, which I love. He also seems to love leading me into new moves that I’ve never heard of, which is perfectly fine and fun. His style of salsa seemed be slightly different from the one I’ve learned, or it could’ve been the fact that he was a lot more experienced with Salsa than I was. We dance some Merengues, and a simplified version of a Cha-cha with the “cha-cha-cha’s” in place, rather than traveling to the side. It turns out that he’s quite content with knowing those dances, but I encourage him to explore some other Rhythm dances, like the Rumba, as well as some Smooth dancing. Rhythm suits my personality better, but I’ve never felt more elegant than when I’m Smooth dancing. Hopefully, he’ll expand his dance repertoire. If not, at least he loves what he’s doing.
We take breaks now and then, and I cherish the time to actually sit down and rest my feet (Sitting down is an absolute no-no at studio socials, and my teachers take every chance they get to keep me dancing). He goes to catch-up with other classmates, and I continue to people-watch. I even danced with a nice man named Ashkin. Unfortunately, the Salsa was insanely fast. and we both kept losing time. All throughout the night, I verbally remind myself, and in turn, my partners to watch out for the little ones running to and fro across the floor. I may not be too patient with little kids, but that doesn’t mean I want to bowl them over. The floor is quite crowded and I get bumped into several times. I also end up stabbing two people with my heels. Sorry! They shoot me angry glares, but as far as I’m concerned, they accept the risks of bodily injury when they decide to dance on a very crowded, tiny floor. Still, it was an excellent opportunity to work on the disappearing art of floorcraft by keeping my steps tiny, spins tight, and arms to myself.
Mom’s on her way, and I decide to stop dancing early because my feet are killing me. The dance floor is way too crowded and there are still little kids running around. I shake hands with Doug, and give him my phone number so I can text him my email address. That way, he can send me the links to other dancing venues that have events more regularly. Of course, I’m not of drinking age, so I make sure to tell him to not send me any bars and what not. He laughs, and tells me he won’t. Mom arrives, and it’s time to go.
Overall, I had a blast. I got to dance/show-off, and even made a new friend. I got to refine my floorcraft, and just get out of the house. Dance unites. No question about it. I can’t wait to do more.
P.S. This is my last post for about two weeks as my family will be leaving for summer vacation on Tuesday. I’ll try to update as A.S.A.P. when I get back. Happy reading!