Social Dancing: The Salsa and Bachata Party

When my husband goes out of town, the way I deal with it is I throw myself into dancing. I schedule as many private lessons as I can during the time he’s gone.  I hang out at the studio, run through cha-cha and rumba walks when there’s available floor space and I watch other dancers to see what I can learn from them.  This time, however, my husband went on 3 day hiking/camping trip and my dance instructor left for England to compete in the British Open (aka Blackpool Dance Festival).  I was stuck at home alone; husband-less and dance-less. I had to figure out what to do with myself.

There was a Salsa and Bachata party going on at another local dance studio and I thought it would be fun to go social dancing with a couple of friends.  I’ve taken some salsa lessons before, but Bachata, on the other hand, is totally new to me and I was really excited to learn.  The night started off with a Salsa and Bachata lesson and as the lights dimmed down towards the end of the lesson, the social dancing begin…

Just a quick note:  I’m not a social dancer.  I’ve been trained in competitive ballroom dancing.  I’m used to choreographed routines and precise technique.  Social dancing is totally different! It’s freestyle and laid back and it’s not something that I do often.  There is nothing choreographed in social dancing; there are only elements that are to be paired together with different elements based on the lead.  The technique in social dancing is more relaxed than it is in competitive dancing.  In fact, it’s almost as if anything goes and the looser the body, the better.  Not at all what I’m used to!

As I danced through the night with different guys, I noticed how important it is to be a good leader and a good follower.  One guy in particular was a great dancer as far as footwork goes; however, his leading skills were very weak.  Because I couldn’t feel his lead, I couldn’t follow some of the elements well and we ended up doing mostly just the Salsa basics.  Needless to say, we only danced once.  Another guy, for example, was an amazing leader; there wasn’t an element that I couldn’t follow even though I had no idea what the steps were!  He made me look great on that dance floor and even complimented my following skills and said that we make a great team.  I totally agreed with him!  We ended up dancing for a while and that was probably the best part of the night.

And then there was the social cha-cha experience.  I was surprised to hear a cha-cha beat since I was at a Salsa and Bachata party.  I was excited and started dancing International cha-cha basic by myself.  A guy came up to me and asked if I new social cha-cha.  I said, yes, thinking that cha-cha is cha-cha and there is no difference between social and it’s competitive counter part.  Boy, was I wrong.  As we took hold, the strong frame that I know was replaced with a loose hold and the basics were turned into something slightly unrecognizable.  Very interesting is all I kept thinking and I did my best to follow!

The Salsa and Bachata party was very fun!  It was nice to just dance the night away and test my following abilities with different leaders. Next time my husband is out of town and my dance instructor is unavailable (which I hope doesn’t happen often), I think I’ll go social dancing again :)

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