I’m sitting there with Devina over a slice of pizza before we head on over to the salsa class. I’m literally shaking in nervousness and she’s trying her best to comfort me and get me to calm down a bit. Apparently, while I rarely get this nervous, she’s all sorts of laughing at me because of the way I am acting and such. I manage a few bites of my pizza and then we start heading out.
We get there about an hour early and we can see the second floor studio from the parking lot and we’re just watching the advanced class getting their groove on. So we decide to kill some time before class by venturing to a small bookstore in a nearby strip mall for a half hour or so. While there, I’m pacing back and forth, have sweaty palms, dry mouth, ya know the whole bit. We leave the bookstore and I spot a liquor store down the way a bit so I just blurt out, “I need a drink.” Off we go to the patron of spirits so that I can pick me up one of those tiny bottles of dark rum. Don’t know why I chose dark rum because unless it’s in a coke with some amaretto, I hate that shit. I grab my rum, she grabs a small Bailey’s and we head on over to the studio parking lot. It’s now 20 minutes to show time and we tip our baby bottles of booze and I down my 2 shots of liquid sin like it was water. She starts cracking some jokes to get me to relax a bit and it (or the booze) starts to slowly work a little. I’m starting to feel less anxious, so we get out and start making our way in.
The class itself is on the second floor of this gym (Momentum Fitness I think) on Route 206 in Princeton. It’s a pretty nice looking gym and I was immediately jealous of the treadmills with their own LCDs and DVD players. I fill out a registration form and sign my waiver and head on upstairs to what will turn out to be some of the most fun I have had in a long time.
The advanced class finished up and we start making our way in. Immediately the instructor makes a comment about how many signed up for this particular class (about 60 people, even mix of men and women of all ages). His name is Papo and he reminded me of an uncle I have down in Honduras, so I started to feel a little more relaxed. The way the room is structured, there’s a glass window behind us so that people can see the class as it is going on and the other side is a huge mirrored wall. We were all placed into three rows of 20 and he started us off with getting the basic rhythm and timing for a song by clapping on certain beats. Then the part I was dreading started, learning the actual steps and moves.
He gets in front and starts slowly doing the basic back to front step moves for the dance. We’re all doing it and I’m kind of getting the hang of it which is putting me more and more at ease. Papo does a great job of making everyone laugh and also if he sees you in trouble, he gets next to you, grabs you and guides you to learn the steps better. He spent a lot of time on the basic back and forth pattern because well, the entire dance is based on those 6 (well, it’s on 8 beats) basic steps. If you do not get them down, you’re pretty much just SOL, stand in the back of the room while the pretty ladies find other guys. Heh.
Then after he sees most of the class getting the steps, he has the men and women stand on opposite sides of the room. The men then moved up and the ladies got to choose their partner. I happened to have a lovely (well make that fucking HAWT!) woman by the name of Debbie stand in front of me. We shake hands and introduce ourselves and go onto the next part of the lesson, how to stand and hold your partner. There’s a few people from the advanced class that stayed behind (Devina is also in that class as well) so he was always using them to demonstrate the proper form and such for the dancing. He turns on the music and we start to dance the very basic step with our partner. Debbie was pretty good, though a beginner like me so we constantly looked down at our feet to get the steps down. After a few minutes, the instructor stops the music and we move to our left to the next person to continue learning. I forgot the next woman’s name but she was a bit taller than me, very attractive, blonde, blue-eyed and British (I kept on asking her questions to hear her talk, hehe). Same deal, dance the basic step and try not to look down though, we both kept on looking down and laughing when we misstepped and bumped heads which is good because it really did make us a lot less nervous. Next was the cute brunette with the rather large set of geogeous breasts accented by a shirt that was very low cut… Ummm yeah, won’t get into that EXTREMELY difficult time of forcing myself to look at her eyes as opposed to umm, well ya know. My next partner was this older woman who I think was Russian from her accent who was pretty good. She helped me get my timing down by counting out loud for us while we were dancing. Then she had me count and I was started to get it which was good. Next was this older woman who’s an expert ballroom dancer, so she was very sure of herself which in turn gave me a little more confidence. Of course I still fucked up a little, but I found as I went down the line, it was getting a little easier.
After this we stopped and Papo started showing us the basic left turn.
As you can imagine, bedlam quickly ensued…
Everyone spent the rest of the night just trying to get that part of the dance down pact and like 80% of the class did not really get it down right, including me. Though it really was a hell of a lot of fun trying to learn it I must say. Once the class got the basics of the left turn down, it was back to the partners. I forgot the names of both of the people I stayed with for this, but my last partner in the learning session was really good. We were both very confused as to the proper foot placement for the turn, but we eventually got it at our own pace. Granted we probably looked like a couple of dysfunctional idiots on the dance floor, it was a great time especially with her just trying to learn that pattern. After that, class was about ending so he made us all clear the dance floor and he chose one guy who had to choose a girl to dance the basic step and do 2 turns. Out of the 12 people that got up (myself included), only 1 person pretty much did a good job for a beginner and it certainly was not me. The rest, needed some practice but Papo was very good in explaining that this dance takes time and good practice to get down as well as he dances. It did not make any of us feel bad in the least bit and we all left smiling and laughing.
Afterwards I was pretty psyched and relieved that it was not the nerve wracking dance of death I had imagined it to be. I am definitely going to practice a hell of a lot more before the next class though because if there’s one thing I certainly do not like, it is looking and doing something half-assed. I have to say I am glad I have a dance partner in Devina that can help me get the moves down correctly and still have fun doing it. She told me she was a little upset because throughout the night she was trying to dance with me, but some of the women just cut her off to dance with me. I wasn’t really sure why because it was obvious that I did know what the fuck I was doing, but I made sure for that last dance I picked her out so it all ended well.
So yeah, I may have been a nervous wreck but like you all said it went fine. It really is a hell of a lot of fun, though I would guess a lot of that had to do with the kick ass instructor we have. If anyone is in the Central Jersey area and would like to check it out, here’s the website for the organization that does it.
That shit is FUN!
I have to admit that I caught myself practicing in the server room while I was waiting for a stupid backup to finish. I am well on my way to becoming a salsero. Woooo!