Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Derek's Salsa Breakthough

A few months ago, I experienced a little mini breakthrough. That moment came when I found myself actually enjoying myself on the dance floor.

Initially, the dancefloor was more like a goal to be achieved, something to strive for, something to fight for, something to attain. I attended class religiously, I watched the instructors and the other classmates like a hawk, I practiced anywhere I could, in the morning just before heading off to work, in the shower (no sweat mah!), in my head during meetings, etc... And when I hit the dancefloor for the first time, it was a nightmare (previous blog entry).

However, I stuck to it. I braced myself, I steeled my resolve and vowed that one day I will be just as fluid and graceful as most of the other couples I saw. I hung on through the nerve wracking anxiety, the embarrasment of forgetting a move halfway through it.

All this while, I practiced, practiced, practiced.

And then, one day ... I was getting ready to hit the dance floor again. Again, I went through that little resolution routine, of saying, you can do it, you dont have to be afraid, don't care what others think etc etc. And I picked someone up to go.

And go I did. Yes, it was a little awkward at first, as usual. I was concentrating 101%. 50.5% on remembering my moves, and another 50.5% on keeping a few steps ahead to pre-empt the next move. And before I knew it, it was the end of the song. I did it! I didnt screw up, I didnt jam, and most of all, I was not completely hoping for the end of the song, like before! I actually ... enjoyed it!

So yes, that was my mini breakthrough! I achieved it! It was no longer just a goal. It was something to look foward to! Something to simply ... enjoy!

Fast forward to today...

That was then. And everyone knows the saying "Never rest on your laurels." And that, my dear friends, was exactly what I did. I stopped practicing. I stopped eating and drinking and breathing salsa. I thought it was like riding a bicycle, in that, once you "get it", it stays with you. My dear friends... it doesnt. Once you turn your back on salsa, it turns its back on you. The next time I hit the dance floor, I got the rotan full force! Again, I felt like having mid-term exams whenever Jeamie reached out and grabbed me for a dance. Again, I started getting the anxious feelings. Again, I starting forgetting moves halfway through. I found myself no longer interested in dancing with girls from other schools. Yes, it was an excuse of "The other schools dont know our moves". But thats exactly what it was. An excuse. A good lead can lead anyone from any school.

So yes, its time I started looking for my groove again.

And how do you do that? Remember, friends, what salsa is. Its a dance. And dances are always danced to music. Music is the KEY! Timing! Fluidity! THAT has to be flowing through your bones. Now I have a new goal to achieve. Its not so much the individual moves, the repertoir. Who cares if you can remember A1 through to Z12? What, if you can just master cbl, underarm turn, ropes, half turn, kumbias ONLY but able to make it flow, make it graceful, make it one with the music, THAT will be better than remembering all the hundreds of moves, but doing them out of timing...

And again, music is the KEY!

What brought about my first breakthrough? Practice practice practice. And what did I practice to? Music! So I started some research. What makes good music good? And how on earth do you get good salsa music when you dont even understand the language? Well, after a LOT of practice surfing while doing my LLB (looking like busy), one tends to get good at search strings. And search I did. And music I received. Good music. GREAT music! And once again, I found myself listening exclusively to salsa music in my boombox of a car. Ministry of Sound has taken a backseat to artists like La India, Willie Gonzales, Ruben Blades, etc. And what happens when you find yourself listening to salsa music all the time? You start dancing in your head. You start listening to the beat, the clave, you start feeling the groove again...

Hopefully, a second breakthrough is round the corner.


Rodrigo said...

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Timothy said...

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Thanks, Tim.

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