Photo: Jaime Jesus (LDA) & Tania C in Brisbane Brazilian Dance Congress 2008
When I say the word “Addiction” with a capital A, I’m pretty sure you think cocaine, pot, alcohol, smoking.
Well if you are reading this blog, maybe not.
Worse than all those vices there is one that is more than addiction, it is both an attitude and one unescapable fate… it’s a virus. Exactly: Latin dancing.
There is always a carrier. The calamity is huge, because in each school you can find at least one (carrier I mean) locally you can see lots of them on stage at the Sydney Salsa Congress.
It all starts innocently, you don’t know how much of your life is about to be turned upside down, and what is worst: by yourself! You choose the course that is closer to your end of work time, anywhere from 6 to 7:30pm, considering the transit time. Once a week, for no more than 10 weeks. You feel safe and secure that is all about having a bit of fun. It’s during the week; it is not going to disturb your precious weekends.
You start thinking the music is a bit strange but it feels nice, this Latin dancing thing. In 8 weeks, if you are not immune, you are doomed. By then, you would have gone to at least one dance party, you do a workshop and the party starts, you see… all those people, having so much fun, the spins, the movements, you don’t know but that is when the virus gets active in you blood stream.
You cannot precise what is happening to you, your pupils grow bigger, your breathing gets accelerated, you try to not look but simply can’t. The lights are bathing you, the rhythm is making your chest feel like a drum, it’s like you are spinning yourself and you are praying: please ask me to dance (if you are a girl) or, please ask her to dance (if you are a guy and you are talking to yourself).
And if you do… poor you…
Then you are back to the classes and they get started on this tracing thing, such a simple and subtle movement. Not everyone realizes the power behind it, but a proper tracing! The hands that don’t leave the other’s body when you break apart: even the simple ones, through the arms for a turn, can send shivers down anyone’s spine, it doesn’t need to be sexual, it’s simply sexy.
Did you realize how much power dance can give to someone? Most of the guys Latin dancers are not too tall, and yet they appear giants on stage and dance floor. And the girls, all ladies are absolutely wonderful when they dance feeling it from within. People that you wouldn’t notice on the street can make you find them incredible with one single spin ending with a body roll. Can you see it?
If I close my eyes I can see that and much more.
When you move to the second level you want to do two hours of dancing and retake the first level as a revision.
All that craving for some nice tracings and you discover the shines!
So you shine… the power grows in you (as does the virus) and you find out those precious moments where you can do whatever you want. If you find at least one partner that looks you in the eye as you do it, it feels like he or she is really dancing with you, and the world can end with the music, you will be forever hooked to this dancing.
When you go to the third level you forget all about getting home early, you start thinking that weekends are to be enjoyed in full and you browse the internet for the parties and regular venues. If you have kids the babysitter will be grinning for nothing with the hours she is getting.
You start spreading the virus yourself, bringing friends and working colleagues to the classes, and there you go doing the beginners one more time just to do it with this or that friend.
As it wasn’t enough, you discover the new styles, generally people start with Salsa (these dances all have at least one capital letter) and then the floor is opened under their feet when they find out about the others, the happy ones such as Merengue and ChaCha, and the sexy, closer ones, as Bachata and Lambada/Zouk.
The “Doomer” is usually a performance course. It is when things turn inescapable, incurable.
The virus is a happy thing in your body, eating away your food and giving you an unexpected burst of energy.
I’ve seen lots of people loosing 10, 12 kilos in some months, myself for example.
By the time the performance gets near, thinking patterns are completely screwed, starting to rehearse at 9:30pm (till 11:30 or more) feels normal by the second week, you see a bright sunny Sunday and instead of imagining a nice day on the beach you simply think: better go early to the beach, carry all my stuff, so I can be early at the rehearsals.
You start meeting partners for training at the most strange hours, lunch breaks are perfect, why would you need to eat? Your days get to be measured by how long you will have to endure before your next dancing.
Everyone at the dance school knows you by name and when you do your bookings they are done by the bunch: level 5, 6 & 7 of salsa, level 2 & 3 bachata, level 1 & 2 for zouk, performance course, that special workshop, its like a shopping list!
Ah (sight) the workshops… all the extra money you earn goes to a special account called: dance. And dance shoes!
When you look in your wardrobe you don’t find any passage to another enchanted witch-world, but you do find seven (SEVEN!!!) pairs of dance shoes! Then you have costumes hanging around the house, masks, ribbons, spears and all sort of funny things. Unexpectedly you have your chance of becoming famous.
We did this choreo where the choreographer decided to paint in gold some half naked guys (they were wearing proper trousers but had nothing on the torso), after that the girls would refer to some in particular as “the golden men”; they found their moment of glory! (So did the girls by the way!)
When you have been to the stage you don’t even blink anymore if your teacher says: let’s rehearse on the holiday Saturday at 7:30pm. You only think: Yey! We can go dancing after that!
You forget all about travelling, spending more than two days off dancing that would have been hell. All you can say is: don’t fight it, you cannot win! During the end of year holidays (fifteen excruciating and long days) all you can think about was: thanks heaven for the choreo training! I will survive!
If you have seen yourself while reading these words I will tell you one thing: good luck!
Or better: “Break a Leg! Merde! Merda!”
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