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Rusty Dancer Finds Bliss

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  • Rusty Dancer Finds Bliss

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    Edie - thought I'd pass this along, it's something I experienced a few months ago -

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    Rusty Dancer Finds Bliss

    It was a great experience. We were almost at one with the music. She was responsive to me, I was responsive to her. It was pure bliss . . .

    Now, how did I get there?

    It goes back many years. After my first group Salsa lesson with Laura Cannelias in a small club near Dodger Stadium, I started going to Salsa clubs every week, sometimes two times a week. I went to most of the classes in the San Francisco Bay Area, and worked hard to learn this dance. This lasted for almost a year. Then I cooled off, but still kept going. I did not become a Salsa addict, and I never reached the place where I could walk up to an advanced dancer I didn't know and we'd both tear up the floor, but I was still satisfied with where I was.

    Getting married didn't change that much, even though she was not a dancer. I still went out to Cafe Cocomo occasionally, and sometimes she'd come with me and watch (and occasionally try to dance). One of my memorable moments was a cruise we took, we danced a Salsa (and stumbled around on the floor), and got complimented for how well we did! I guess that person had low standards :-)

    Then we had a baby.

    This was the second biggest change in my life; only meeting Jesus Christ tops it. I found that I wasn't saying “Okay, I'm a daddy now, I need to stop doing this”; as I settled into fatherhood, other things naturally dropped off. Dancing in general was one of those things. I sorta missed it, but raising our girl was more important, more time-and-money-consuming, and more fulfilling. Clearly, it was unlikely that I'd get back to the intermediate level I'd reached in Salsa. (And if you retort that I need to have more classes, especially privates, so that I can become a better dancer and actually do well in the clubs, then I submit that I am not the one with the problem.)

    That's my background for what happened last summer:

    My wife and daughter were out of state visiting her parents, so I was free on the night of a long-running salsa social in Oakland. After several dances, I was starting to get comfortable out there. I'm not picky about who I dance with, but I strive to give my partner a good time on the dance floor. I avoid the advanced dancers, because I know I usually do not give them a good time; they're accustomed to the high-level Salseros, and I'd be a letdown.

    Imagine my surprise when I was asked to dance by one of these advanced dancers. She was who Michael Jackson would have called a P.Y.T. (pretty young thing), and I admired how she tore up the floor. We introduced ourselves, and I told “Jenny”, “I need to warn you, this is the second time this year I've danced Salsa, and I'm very rusty. If you'd rather sit this one out, you won't hurt my feelings.” Jenny laughed, “That's fine, I just want to dance.” I made sure she saw my wedding ring as we went to the center of the floor.

    What followed was one of the most fantastic dancing experiences I've ever had. Jenny was a great dancer, of course, and that elevated my leading. But it was different than most partners I've had: We danced with each other. She responded well to me, and when she'd ad lib a little, I'd respond back. When one of us messed up, we both laughed it off. And I saw what the difference was.

    We had connection.

    We had that connection that allowed for the effective non-verbal communication so important in partner dancing. It was not the two typical mindsets of either trying to do all the steps right and fearful of screwing up, or demanding that the man make her look and feel like a princess and getting huffy if he isn't up to snuff. Jenny wanted to dance, and used my specific style and skill level to have a good time dancing. More important, we danced with each other, and that made the lead-and-follow dynamic so much more, well, dynamic. It was a defining moment for me.

    I come back to Jenny and that dance in my mind occasionally. It relates to life, of course. We all do better in work, in teams, in sports, and especially in marriage, when we “look not only to our interests, but also the interests of others” (St. Paul, Philippians 2:4). And when at the Salsa clubs, we're more likely to have and give a good time when, instead of trying to reach the Salsa high or see how many cuties we can dance with, we instead come with the attitude of wanting our dance partner to have an amazing time during this song, and I'm the one to offer that amazing time. It changes the entire focus of the dance, makes it much better.

    I hope this is an encouragement to you, and keep dancing!

    - Rusty Dancer (wishing to remain Anonymous )


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