Friday, December 10, 2010

Pre-Departure: Breaking Free of the White Man Shuffle

One of the hardships every gringo must face is the difficulty of making fluid movements in relation to beat and melody. Although there are exceptions to this rule, I’m definitely not one of them.

Being six feet three inches tall and two hundred pounds doesn’t really help in the rhythm department, either. Santa Clause could move with more grace.

I knew that if I hoped to survive a year in Latin America, I would need to move beyond the white man shuffle and actually learn how to dance—more specifically—how to dance salsa.

Santa knows how to shake it.
Colombia is known as the salsa capital of the world. It’s pretty much all they do there. You don’t just go out to grab a drink with your buddies—you go out to dance. Although in the United States people can get by with alcohol-induced hip spasms and the occasional dry hump, in Colombia you need to actually know a legitimate dancing style.

When you’re a tall gringo, this is easier said that done.

With my salsa experience limited to a few awkward lessons taken during high school Spanish class, I needed to find a way to build up my salsa resume.

In its typical creepy fashion, Facebook responded with suddenly showing me status updates from an old friend from middle school who happened to be a salsa dancer. In my typical creepy fashion, I sent the friend a message asking if she knew of any good places to learn salsa in the Bay Area. She not only told me about a few local salsa bars offering lessons, but that she would also accompany me to the first few lessons until I got the hang of it.

Salsa Lessons with Antonio Miguel and Valerie Demattei!
In another stroke of luck, a few weeks later, the same friend told me she was going to start teaching beginner salsa lessons with a man named Antonio Miguel at a local fitness club. The lessons were intended for absolute beginners with zero salsa experience. Bingo.

I started going to the lessons every Tuesday and after two months, it is safe to say my skills have improved. I’m no Marc Anthony and I might not be as good as this kid, but I know more than the average gringo. Antonio’s lessons have given me the salsa foundations which I can hopefully build upon when I am in Colombia. 

I'll do my best not to embarrass America too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment