I want to share a personal experience from my journey as a beginner in salsa dancing. It was a Saturday night at Cafe Cocomo, where I found the courage to ask a beautiful woman to dance. However, she looked at me up and down and declined.
In that moment, I questioned myself - was I not good-looking enough, or did she think I wasn't a good dancer? This experience became a turning point for me, as I made a vow to become a great dancer and create an inclusive dance community.
Over the course of 25 years, I have built a community through projects like Dance Festivals, Salsagang and Rodchata. My goal has always been to make dancing non-intimidating, especially for beginners. Whenever I see beginners or shy individuals in the corner of a dance floor, it takes me back to that night at Cafe Cocomo. It reminds me of the importance of dancing with everyone, regardless of their skill level.
I challenge myself to dance with beginners and make them look good with simple and easy-to-follow movements. Dancing with beginners not only hones my skills and practice my fundametals as a dancer but also provides valuable perspective as a teacher. I have always encouraged the teachers I hire at festivals to follow suit. Dancing with beginners is the best way to be loved, give love, and build a good reputation among dance students. Moreover, it is a smart business move for teachers to increase their student base.
By dancing with beginners, we inspire them to be better dancers. It instills in them a sense of belonging in the dance community and increases their confidence to approach even the most experienced dancers. As Maya Angelou aptly said, "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." Let us all ponder on this wisdom.
Remember, we were all beginners at one point, and we will never forget the feelings of self-doubt and fear. The thoughts of "I'm not good enough" or "I'm afraid to ask them because they might say no" plagued our minds. As students and teachers, let us strive to create an environment where everyone feels valued and encouraged.
So, dance with beginners, support their growth, and let them know they belong. By doing so, we not only enhance our own skills but also foster a vibrant and inclusive dance community that leaves a lasting impact on every individual.
I know one or two of you is saying, "F--that, I paid lots of money to be at this event to dance with advance dancers." OH, YOU SELFISH SOB :-).