Home & + | Search
Featured Categories: Special Focus | Performance Reviews | Previews | DanceSpots | Arts and Education | Press Releases
Join ExploreDance.com's email list | Mission Statement | Copyright notice | The Store | Calendar | User survey | Advertise
Click here to take the ExploreDance.com user survey.
Your anonymous feedback will help us continue to bring you coverage of more dance.
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
ExploreDance.com Kickstarter Campaign

The ExploreDance.com Kickstarter campaign is live! Please consider backing our campaign to help us expand our coverage of dance.
ExploreDance.com (Magazine)
Other Search Options
Joanne Zimbler
The Avalon
United States
Boulder, CO
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
******* ** **

Seeking Friendship in the Front Range - Salsa in Boulder, Colorado

by Joanne Zimbler
November 12, 2014
The Avalon
6185 Arapahoe Rd
Boulder, CO 80303
Why is it that we never do all of the things that we tell ourselves we're going to do as soon as we get some free time or take a vacation? All of the things we imagine as we sit in traffic after a soul-crushing day at the office that we wish we were doing instead - playing frisbee on the beach, going on a yoga retreat, learning French - they all seem to fade from memory when that free time presents itself and that episode of Dr. Phil that you'd heard about is on and from which you couldn't possibly imagine getting up off the couch for now! French smench, this Dr. Phil episode is much more relevant, and isn't it edifying too?

I'll admit to falling into the Dr. Phil (with a side of Judge Judy) slump. But I'm determined to not let it annihilate those urges, those fantasies of all of the things I'd be doing if I just weren't so darned busy. And here I am now, new city, new opportunities, and - nary a job in site. What better time to throw myself into fun new social and horizon-expanding situations? I've done it already - with swing dancing and hip hop, all without retreating to the couch for an SVU marathon. I'm ready to keep going, ready for the next endeavor: salsa!

So, one recent chilly evening, I grabbed my new (and only) friend in my new hometown of Boulder and headed out for a night of salsa. It was not just dancing, nor was it just a lesson. It was a salsa extravaganza, replete with lessons first and a salsa social to put the new skills to the test afterward. I was psyched. I wouldn't be the only novice there. And perhaps this lesson would make me into a salsa diva. I do know how to dance and salsa doesn't really look that hard. I was sure I'd be the belle of the ball after a lesson and a little practice. And I'd hadn't been in a ballroom for dancing since cotillion. The opportunity was redolent of old crushes and a stomach full of butterflies, of a nostalgia for a simpler time that I'd never even experienced - men asking women to dance as they stood on the edge of the dance floor, watching, hoping. And I'm not thirteen anymore either- I'm confident and sassy. Asked to dance or not, I'll be fine (but of course I will be asked to dance - I'm confident and sassy).

Upon walking in, we saw several lessons finishing up from the hour before, some of the groups making us feel like we were in the right place while others dashed our expectations of instantly sizzling on the dance floor. Some made me forget that it was 40 degrees out and that we were in the high terrain of Colorado. They were bringing a full on Latin flair. They were doing intricate moves, moving with each other in a way that made it all look so ornate, so mysterious. How do they all know what to do next? Was this choreographed or are all these women responding to their male leads? Realizing that salsa isn't really just a footwork free-for all, I humbled a bit, sighed and realized that this lesson would require my full attention.

Moments later, a man was on a microphone announcing that this night would be different and instead of breaking off into small groups for lessons, all levels would be learning together. This seemed odd and I feared that this would make learning more challenging. The man on the microphone talked quickly, speaking to a room full of at least one hundred. Suddenly, we were partnering up with nearby men and my friend and I realized that like in life, we were man free. They were all taken, also like in life. Although Jenna decided to take the man's role and dance with me, I was uncomfortable because this meant that she'd be missing out on the instructions. I struggled to find us partners, but in the meantime, we were missing rudimentary information that would be required for building upon. After several minutes of chaos and trying to dance with a shy Russian boy who seemed all of seventeen and wouldn't even hold my hand, Jenna sat down and said she wasn't actually interested.

I wondered if this was a sign from the salsa gods that I should quit too and call it a day. But my spirit of adventure persevered and I was determined to have a unique experience. I was a little blindsided that she'd given up so quickly and refused to participate at all, but I vowed to keep at it. Next thing I knew, a guy I'd seen earlier dancing in an intermediate level group grabbed me, and suddenly, I was twirling away. When the microphone man said to switch partners, this fellow insisted that we stay together. I was flattered. I had missed several key moments of the lessons, so why did this skilled dancer want to continue dancing with me? Was I perpetrating some kind of salsa fraud, convincing him that I knew what I was doing? And then it happened again -time to switch partners but Mark wouldn't release me. Although I later learned that not letting the woman move on to the next partner is very bad salsa form, I was grateful to have someone who seemed to want to dance with me and didn't mind getting his feet stepped on. I welcomed his patience and helpful tips; I couldn't account for why he held onto me, but I accepted and danced on.

Jenna soon left and I was suddenly left completely in Mark's competent hands. We danced all night together. Even after the lesson, during the subsequent social hours, we had many dances and I was so grateful. I'm not sure I ever got the basics down but after several sweaty hours spinning on the dance floor, I finally got that I had to stop trying to lead and anticipate what was next and just surrender to the lead and the jammin' Latin band. I also danced with several other kind gentlemen who spun me around and delighted me in a heady thrilling way I've not felt since childhood running around outside for hours. There's something intoxicating about movement that rouses the spirit. Dancing with a partner amplifies this, as you work together synergistically, in an energy exchange that transports you, out of time and space, into another realm. I'm going to remember this, when the temperature plummets in deep winter: just down the street on Thursday nights, a tropical South American retreat awaits me. I won't be the belle of the ball but I will certainly have one!
Jenna & Mark Salsa dancing

Jenna & Mark Salsa dancing

Photo © & courtesy of Joanne Zimbler

Jenna & Mark Salsa dancing

Jenna & Mark Salsa dancing

Photo © & courtesy of Joanne Zimbler

Search for articles by
Performance Reviews, Places to Dance, Fashion, Photography, Auditions, Politics, Health
ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
* **** ****

ExploreDance.com is sponsored by
******* ******