Salsa – the four minute love affair -by Salsa Superwoman

Recently I was talking about my love for salsa dancing and I said that at its best, what you get is a four minute love affair with no strings attached and no inappropriate touching. My intrigued companion subsequently asked me to share this observation in a blog. I agreed at once and then the second thoughts crept in. Was I, a ‘respectable married woman’ going to admit, in public, that this is what I get up to?

Actually, I am a serious person, I tend to be analytical, I tend to worry, I tend to work too hard and party too little. I am sure this makes me like so many other ‘superwomen’. I need the outlet of exercise, fresh air and walking the dog, but none of this exceeds the joy I feel when I hear a salsa beat strike up. I put aside the worries of the day; that I have a career, children and step children, a house to run, blah, blah, blah. Before you ask, I don’t put aside my handsome and sweet natured husband who endlessly tolerates that I go out dancing with friends who years ago nicknamed me ‘snake-hips’. (I think he secretly likes having a wife who can put in some cheeky hip moves.)

I began to dance over ten years ago, when I was a single parent of two small children. I had a passionate desire to dance and two left feet, so the dance steps were hard for me to learn. The rhythm was always there however, so that helped. I battled through my embarrassment for months until I could hold my own on the dance floor. I never got to be brilliant, but I can improvise now and put in styling touches such as a toss of the head, an extra shimmy of the shoulders, an arm flourished that even Craig Revel-Horwood wouldn’t actually despise. The best thing however, is the conversation that is a good salsa dance. Eye contact is important, following a lead and really responding to another person, moving as if one person. Sometimes it’s the closest thing to bliss, very intimate and yet not inappropriate. Most dances are ordinary, but in some, in a strange way, I almost love my dance partner, but just for the short time that the track lasts. It is the only perfect love affair, in that there is no aftermath and no disappointment. You both knew before that it would only last four minutes, with no recriminations.

Friends have implied that we salsa dancers are all up to no good and it is true that I have known people who have crossed the line and had a love affair longer than four minutes. Some have even met their future life partner on the dance floor and some were not single when they did it. That can happen anywhere though, at work, in the gym, at the tennis club. As they say, dancing is a vertical expression of a horizontal desire, but we all know that people who are up for it will always find someone to party with somewhere.

My dance girlfriends and I agree about the finest local dance partners. The ones who make you feel like a Cuban Ginger Rogers even though you know that you do not look like one! Of course it was famously said of her that ‘she did everything Fred Astaire did, only backwards and in high heels’. Wikipedia says that whilst she was of course very talented, what lifted her from the crowd in her partnership with Fred Astaire was that she made it seem as if dancing with him was simply thrilling as she was such a good actress. Perhaps she wasn’t acting that part though. Dancing simply is thrilling. An ordinary man can be the most thrilling dance partner if he brings all of himself, his passion and his humour and his desire to please. I have often heard it said that a man’s part is to make the woman look good on the dance floor and that if the dance doesn’t go well, it’s his fault. If only the rest of life ran like that!

I will admit also, that as I get older, it gets harder. The doubts creep in. I ask myself if it’s appropriate to be out dancing in town without my husband, I watch the men asking the younger women to dance and realise that will happen more and more. So I find myself in Zumba classes and although they are bit like French conversation classes without ever going to France, I find they are tremendous fun and I still come out exhilarated. So somehow I know that I won’t give up my passion, but will just have to keep finding new ways to express it.

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