Monday, June 16, 2008

The Way Salsa is Going

  • I go to class and struggle to learn a new pattern for one hour.
  • By the end of class, I've pretty much got it—but just barely.
  • Within 5 minutes, I've forgotten it.
  • So, I whip out my Panasonic PHD (Push Here, Dummy) camera and shoot a video of the teacher and a partner dancing the pattern. If I don't do this, I will forget everything.
  • I go home and work on it all week—or for weeks. The problem is, working on a pattern alone is not much better than worthless. You really have to do it with a partner.
  • Go to the dance on Friday or Saturday.
  • Try the pattern I've been working on by myself but with a partner in the middle of the dance floor. In fact, try it multiple times.
  • Screw it up every time.
  • Go home in frustration after dancing one time.

My problem is that I'm virtually intolerant of not doing something perfectly the first time. If I fail after a few attempts, I become intensely frustrated. I am not keen on practicing these moves in the middle of the dance floor. A much more ideal environment would be somewhere else during the week where there is little pressure and everyone is working through moves and testing newly learned skills. There aren't many places like that. I've invited some folks over to my apartment for practice, but have no takers so far. They probably think I'm a psycho and don't want to go to a stranger's house. Afraid I'll chop them up or something.

So, I guess I'll just have to practice alone for the time being and look stupid at the club. Not my idea of a good time, but I think it's the only way.


Anonymous said...

It's time for a too-personal observation, masquerading as Famous Cinema Qutoes!

"...There's something you're not telling me..."

There is obviously some pressing reason that you want to present a suave and sophisticated image - but your presumption that we, the reader, are sophisticated enough to surmise what that reason is; do we assume that you really want to settle down forever in BA? Why else would anyone agonize o/ whether their dance step is good enough to be mistaken for Valentino?

"...Give yourself to the Dark Side. It is the only way to save..."

The desire to represent ones-self as perfect [which was the plot of a movie starring Diane Keaton, "Waiting For Mr. Goodbar", and/or the Jack Nicholson detective-gone-wrong-story "The Postman Always Wrings Twice" from the Swingin' Seventies) is a red flag that one is aware of one's lack of cultural awareness and is trying to overcompensate by hiding it (which sticks out like a red thumb, to all others).

Besides, didn't you have a few items of cutlery on your list before it formed legs and ran away? Bowie Knives (or whatever they were) don't inspire confidence in this regard. [joke]

At any rate, the culture down there (at least to all of us up-tight nortamericanos) is represented by the idea of "manana never comes" or the infamous "don't worry, be happy."

This means that you are theoretically surrounded by local SA guys who are secure in and of themselves and don't worry about getting the dance steps right, therefore they do it right enough that the local gals are impressed by their unassuming self-confidence.

This causes the local gals to (in theory) fall madly in love (before discovering that, like men all over the face of the planet, they have mis-represented themselves and are just as insecure as the next average Jose).

Who was the artist who made the perfect statue and then fell in love with it? Phidias? Actually I forgot the name of the classic greek moron; but still remember the story.

The point here is that everybody who is "cultured" knows this story and the illustration that it represents; they nod their heads sagely when hearing about a self-evident train wreck masquerading as a serious life, and hopefully avoid the self-same problems resident in themselves (If they didn't get it right, their greek citizenship was rescinded and they were put on the boat for Morocco, to spend all eternity in a bad Bogart film).

This situation is kind of like the one with Achilles' mother who couldn't Sanfordize his heel along with the rest of him.

So my whole point in this missile (missive?!?) is to point out that less-than-perfect is approachable by others, whereas if you are trying to set yourself on the pedestal as perfect, you may fall off and get a crack in your facade.

Buena Suerte,


Jay said...

Yeah, my psychologist (marriage counseling in th olden days) said something about my parents expecting too much or maybe me feeling pressure for whatever reason to attain some standard. And so it sticks with me, despite those enlightened words.

Trust me, I do feel somewhat cursed with high expectations of myself and intensely frustrated at my imperfections. I wasn't bragging. I will continue to work towards lowering some of the unreasonably high expectations of myself, but it may take a long time, as it has become an ingrained part of my being for decades.

Thank you for the admonishment, Eduard (and the always-entertaining-and-insightful comments).

Anonymous said...

Thanks for listening. It's not easy for anyone to admit that they could be better than they are. The part that I find most painful is actually getting there.


Cheryl Mingo said...

Hey Jay, You just have to learn to laugh at yourself and have fun! That's what being latin is all about! Believe me...I know! And I also know what you mean about expectations. Unfortunately, I think that it is ingrained in us from when we are little growing up in a conservative baptist background. I've sort of been reading/studying about that in my devotions. If you're ever interested in reading what I've been learning you can look at it.(

Looking forward to hearing first hand about all your adventures...I'm sure you'll have lots more by the time you make it here.