Sunday, November 23, 2008

Salsa Confusion

I went to my first Salsa Practice yesterday. It's a group of Salsa enthusiasts who get together once a week to practice their moves. Or their non-moves, as in my case, or maybe confused movements is a better description of what I was doing yesterday.

The practice session doesn't include lessons, it isn't a meet market--people are just there to dance, enjoy themselves without any pressure and learn from the different partners they dance with. Rank beginners, like myself, intermediate level dancers and those who really know what they're doing. At each new song, people switch partners (I let anyone I danced with know that I am a beginner, just so they understand that I don't know what I'm doing).

And despite being spun off balance a few times, stepping on my partners' feet and bumping into them at inopportune moments, I had fun. I went to a Salsa nightclub a few weeks ago and the night-clubbers apparently only want to dance with people who know what they're doing and look really good doing so. I am not one of these people. Too much pressure and snobbery for me. 

I just want to learn to dance Salsa.  I don't have a partner with whom to take to lessons, I can't afford private lessons, so Salsa practice is a wonderful way to accomplish what I want to learn. I'm assuming, of course, that I am not totally uncoordinated and will catch on, like everyone tells me I will, in 5 to 10 sessions. I practice the basic steps at home, but the spinning thing doesn't work well without a partner - I overspin without someone there to stop me. The kitchen counter or a chair don't work well as partners.

So maybe, just maybe, in a couple of months, I won't be spinning off-balance, stepping on feet and bumping into my dance partners. What surprised me the most was that the numbers of female and male dancers were pretty well even. I had originally thought that there would be a bunch of women there, but no. Fairly even numbers and everyone was friendly and understanding and the men knew what they were doing. 

I don't know if anyone else has tried to drag their significant other to dance classes, but I used to do this, only to discover that if the man doesn't know how to lead, then I can't follow and I try to lead. Which only irritates all concerned.

So yes, I am very happy if a man knows how to lead and lead well. I am a feminist, but somethings just work better when you don't try to lead. I don't want to lead--I don't know what I'm doing. And the rules of hand-to-hand (contact??) dancing are that the man leads. Some feminists will argue that the rules of dancing need to be changed, but I am not one of these. I don't want to change the Bible so that God is referred to as a woman. I don't care. It doesn't matter to me. What matters to me in terms of feminism is gender equality before the law and in society. Domestic abuse (although either gender can be abused), prostitution (ditto), equal legal rights, equal working rights, freedom from sexual harassment etc are far the more serious issues that feminism should deal with. Not dancing. 

It's dancing for God's sake, not war.


Sandy said...


I loved your post. I agree with you on feminism sticking to the important things and not interfering with dancing, boy scouts, etc.

You're so lovely that there will be lots of guys who will have the patience to teach you how to salsa.

Sandy, your facebook friend

Aqseer said...

so it might be frivolous to argue for change in the rules of salsa, but u have to admit... the very fact that the rules are the way they are (specially when ure instructors tell the guys that its a male centred dance, and they must control and lead and they are the frames and the women are the pictures) says a lot about social structure etc. its interesting.