Sunday, September 03, 2006

salsa a month in

Still going to the dance studio. Tuesdays and Saturdays, salsa along with cha cha and merengue. Some days it feels better. Others it's "I suck." The universal feeling. My private teacher said it about his own work last Wednesday. One of the guys I danced with today, said it about himself. No variance. No "I have no rhythm" or "This is harder than expected." Just the simple, very clear, "I suck." "I can't believe how much I suck at this."

But today was a good day. A new cycle. I'm relieved to be starting anew for the second time. My moves are getting cleaner and clearer. My anxiety, so ever present, not as high. I hadn't counted on the same partners over and over and it's kind of nice. Especially the guys who're a pleasure to dance with. We're growing in familiarity. I still don't want to know their names though repetition via name tag is starting to seep in. The questions are starting. "What do you do for a living" "I'm in in the film business." "Ah." "And you?" "I'm a doctor." With the others I can only guess. One of my favorites I think is an illegal immigrant - smooth in his moves, I imagine coming to class for a little female touch and taste of home. It's still the strangest damned thing, dancing with strange men week after week, for a few minutes at a time. We all say "thank you" after each rotation. We smile in recognition as we face each other again. I worry that some guys dread me coming. Of course I dread the anxiety of the worry.

We have some moments of free choice, and I try not to spiral down as I see the better dancers, aiming for the cuter girls. It's not high school. I have my own waiting man to return to each day, yet the edge is ever present. Am I too old, too big? Do I suck? We're judging each other purely on looks and movement. I know who I prefer. I try to shut down my monitoring for who's not prefering me. I beam at my favorites. I try hard to hold on to the compassionate moments, the guys with sweet smiles and genuine rapport. I try not to mind the guys who never smile or chat . Sometimes there are surprising quips in the quick liasons. Latin dance very steeped in gender formality. He leads, she follows. He dominates. Under his breath today a guy whispers with glee, "Ah submit!" Another pleads stiffly, "Let me lead, it's the only time I get to be in charge." It's my job to let them lead, to help them feel good about leading even when they suck.

There's this one guy who's so fu*king weird. A David Byrne lookalike, he commits seriously to the moves but just has a terrible sense of rhythm. I try to be on my best behavior with him, he's trying so hard. Earlier today I found myself laughing, actually laughing at him as he was totally going in the wrong direction. I even uttered those damning words out loud. Then became mortified... realized there's nothing worse than laughing at a guy's wrong moves. Next minute I wondered if I was in err and not he. Working down the line... no, it was him. I come to him again, really not looking forward to it. He stares at me extra hard and aggressively starts the routine. Thankfully it's all right this time. He stares deep into me, truly locked on, not letting up. "You're just so intense" escapes from my lips, and I wonder if I've crossed a dangerous line. Thankfully he laughs and seems to relax, even appreciating the line. We're strangers, dancing close, communicating without words. In another time, this was normal. Now, it's a total re-education for me - touching and moving without sex as part of the equation.

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