“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.” ― Friedrich Nietzsche
How Nietzsche’s words ring true. I still remember when I stopped losing the days to my anchored movements and let dance into my life. Entering my senior year in high school, I finally took the plunge and signed up for a local salsa class. This was after many months of listening and bobbing my head to a few salsa CDs an uncle would leave around the house when he would visit. I’m certain I drove my parents nuts playing the same songs over and over again. My unseasoned ears couldn’t get enough of the instrumentation and music structure of salsa, a genre I had largely ignored in my youth up until that point.
I was hooked. Marc Anthony came first. Then Victor Manuelle. When I finally “discovered” artists such as Luis Enrique, Los Van Van, Oscar D’León and Rubén Blades among others, I realized my salsa musical journey had just begun. Between poring over the liner notes of my growing CD collection and scouring the rows of LP records at my local music store, I figured the next step in elevating my appreciation of salsa music was to learn its corresponding dance forms.
While growing up, I attended my fair share of social festivities where dancing was always central to the event: weddings, birthdays, family parties, random get-togethers, etc. I never danced. You couldn’t get me to. I was content sitting at the tables shoveling food into my mouth for extended periods so as to avoid being asked and was more often then not inclined to “hang out” near the outskirts of the fiesta so as to avoid the dance spectacle altogether. On the rare occasion a family member would drag me out to the dance floor, I’m sure my reluctant swaying was not a pretty sight to see. I wasn’t necessarily a shy kid, I just didn’t dance.
My first outing at a social salsa class confirmed my worst fears – I sucked. Graceless and goofy, I hobbled and stammered my way through that inaugural and agonizing hour attempting to mimic the instructor’s every step. Near the end though, it dawned on me that everyone sucked (well, at least most of us newcomers). I took comfort in the fact that I wasn’t the only one displaying farcical and oddball movements. By the second class, I felt a bond with my green and stumbling comrades. Constant laughter and giggles permeated our large room. I quickly fell in love with the authentic and joyous demeaner all the students put forward. We all wanted to be there. We all wanted to improve. No one cared if you looked silly. Once I understood the social significance of salsa, essentially the esprit de corps, I became enthralled and infatuated with the dance. I set out to make salsa an important part of my life.
Fast forward a dozen years or so and I’m proud to announce the launch of Dance Papi: the best place on the web to learn salsa and Cuban salsa. I’m excited to add new dance styles in the coming months. In the meantime, browse our current video lessons, find local dance events or submit your own to our calendar, and subscribe to our email list to stay in touch.
I look forward to starting this salsa odyssey with you.