Thursday, August 30, 2007

What got me started learning salsa

The other day someone asked me how, why, I'd even started with the salsa lessons. And it's funny because on the one hand, I'm not exactly sure. I don't really know what got me to drive up and walk in the door for that first free lesson last August 1st. But there were at least two antecedents.

Back in November 2005, our friend Donny Ward, who was so instrumental in the whole Fiji adventure from the gitgo, and has been a good and important friend for years, mentioned a young friend was passing through Austin and would we make time to meet her. Of course we did. We met at Rubys for bbq. She brought along a friend, and didn't linger, because they were going out dancing. Salsa. "Hmm, salsa, " I said, "I've always loved the music and have been thinking it'd be great to learn how to dance to it." Rachel said she could point me where to go. And did in a follow up email. She sent several ideas, singling out Azucena and Carlos at Go Dance. I read the article she'd written on Azucena, and left it at that.

Summer 2006, a producer friend gave John a rough cut of A Place to Dance by local filmmaker Alan Berg. He watched, but it wasn't really his thing. Some weeks later I decided to check it out. And I loved it! I was totally moved by it. It's a doc about one of the last surviving Big Band Dance Clubs in the South, in New Orleans, where people in their 70s, 80s, even 90s, doll up every Sunday, and get on the dance floor. They were fantastic. Totally digging the dance. Staying active, staying alive because of this simple pleasure. I found it so inspiring, I'm pretty sure that's why got me to check out the dance studio. It's like a decision I made 10 years ago about yoga. I'd imagined myself as a 60 year old practicing regularly. If I was going to be practicing at 60, didn't I need to get started? Same thing with dance. And why wait? Isn't dancing one of the great pleasures anytime?

And maybe there was one more inspiration. I think as I was talking one day about getting close to 50 and wondering about the future, wondering what mattered most for me ahead, a friend said, "What were you most interested in when you were 12?" There's no question that dancing was everything to me then.

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