Simply Addicted

Published: July 31st 2017
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This is not another party story. Not even close. All I can say is that I am addicted and my brain is on fire. It's comparable to infatuation or a new love. A powerful drive makes me want more and more. I'm talking about dancing. I go out, thinking that the urge will somehow fade but instead, it drastically increases! It's comparable to going to a restaurant, eating a meal, and then leaving with even more appetite than when you came! It feels abnormal.

Instead of that song "Blame it on the Alcohol", I blame it on the endorphins. I go out and don't drink a lick, yet I'm filled with a natural euphoria. Physical activity is proven to combat depression and dancing, degenerative brain disorders. Therefore, my hobby is also healthy! I've done ballet, jazz, modern, the whole gamut. Although I love it all, I find the world of partner dancing to be much more fulfilling. I enjoy the skillful, non-verbal communication that transcends into a visual work of art. To feel the slight nuances of your partner's corporal movements, internalize them, and translate them into your own physical and visual display. The feeling of being so in sync with each other and the music that it looks like choreography but it's not! It's a deep level of communication. It's living in the moment, listening, and responding artistically and open endedly. It's absolutely fascinating.

The Journey:

I joined salsa classes back in December at the YMCA. Salsa isn't my favorite but it's one of those Latin dances that one needs to know to be proficient. My real heartbeat is bachata, a sensual dance that originated in the Dominican Republic. So although I joined the salsa cubana classes, I didn't go often because I just wasn't feeling it. It didn't help that the first class I went to, the profe left me dancing the basic step with a chair for two hours. I was livid, indignant, and vowed I wouldn't go back! Unfortunately, I had already paid for the full month so with my tail tucked between my legs I indeed went back. I was loath to waste that money.

The profe was a fellow who knew his stuff but wasn't very personable. He tended to leave the beginner people doing boring beginner things while he went and showed out with the already "cool" people

Koke and Jonatan eating chicken in the hostel room at 5:30 A.M. Men...
who were advanced. This irked me to no end. Meeting Maria Jose, a girl who began the same day I did, was an advantage. She was a new Chilean friend who spoke English fluently! I couldn't complain. She liked salsa and therefore motivated me to go. That's until I went back to the U.S. for Christmas and New Years for 5 weeks. I didn't see her or go to the classes until after I got back, and then some. So in total, I missed about 2 months. However, when I did return, Maria Jose was not the same as before. She was a dancing machine and had improved exponentially while I was M.I.A. That's when it dawned on me. No matter how much innate talent I have for dancing, I needed to get the log out and be consistent or else I would never become an expert. If I wanted to be Dancing-with-the-Stars-kind-of-good, I needed to be dedicated. I promised to do it.

The Frustration:

However some promises are meant to be broken... My friend Kelsey came to visit me and we went gallivanting around South America. After that, my mom came to visit as well. That was that until I joined the profe's bachata class in El Cubanisimo, 3 times a week. That's when things changed. I love bachata so I was intrinsically motivated to go whereas I wasn't with salsa. It was in a rented out night club during the day, which was way better than the gym atmosphere. I had found my niche. For weeks I went, rain or shine, in freezing winter weather. The only thing that was off was the fact that I saw these dance people three times a week yet we still didn't know each other. I didn't feel included. I had never even had a real conversation with the profe for goodness sake, and that was weird. I figured it was because I'm a gringa and they probably thought I didn't speak Spanish well or something. I pouted inwardly but accepted the situation. At the end of the day, at least I was dancing so I didn't care much. I had my own personal goals to reach.

However, apparently quite a few of the people would go together to Join Vito on Wednesdays, a night club. I went once back in December with Maria Jose and hated it so decided to never go back. I danced a grand total of once that whole evening so obviously I wasn't motivated to darken those doorways again. But Koke, a guy who I met in the salsa class, who was also taking the bachata class, told me I should go to Join Vito on Wednesday. I said no! Then Ricardo said I should go to Join Vito on Wednesday. Again, I said no! Then Jonatan said that I should go to Join Vito on Wednesday... I guess the third one's the charm because I finally said yes. I'd go.

The Addiction:

That Wednesday, I was nervous about the time we had to kill after class, waiting for Join Vito to open. The only thing worse than killing time is killing time with strangers. Luckly time didn't pass too slowly. A group of us, including Rodrigo, the profe, walked and ate completos, chilled, then went to the night club. That's when my true addiction began. I walked in and it was nothing like the first time. I was with people from my bachata class and I recognized a lot of faces from my old salsa class as well. I knew people and had people to be with. I danced and danced and danced like there was no tomorrow. A few guys even pulled me on the dance floor to dance salsa and to my complete surprise, I still knew how and had even somehow improved! And for the bachata songs, I was a machine. All of the scolding that the profe did over the last few weeks seeped in. "The woman's job is not to think! It's to let herself be completely led." "The woman doesn't memorize choreography or sequence so she can dance with any man and follow him." My body internalized the information and it worked! It was refreshing to see how much I had improved in such a short amount of time, because I was consistent. It was also refreshing to see how much salsa cubana was in my muscle memory, even though I hadn't done it in weeks. The night was on fire, I was on fire, and so was my brain. I woke up the next morning starry eyed and wanting more. I couldn't wait to go out again. I couldn't wait to go to class again.

So that next week, when my classmates and the profe mentioned the Salsa Adicto event, I was obviously going to go. It was on a Saturday from 11 P.M. until 5 A.M. and I again danced like there was no tomorrow. When 5 A.M. arrived and they tried to kick us out, people started shouting for more music. I wasn't ready to leave either so I started shouting with them. Haha and they actually put on more music! I think that only works in Chile... We danced and danced some more. But at 5:30 A.M., I left because it was evident that the party wasn't going to end anytime soon and I had to wake up early in the morning. Se pasaron.

I used to judge the people who were at the club every time the door opened but now I'm beginning to understand. I danced 7 times in one week and yet I somehow still want more. How is that even a thing? We're all impassioned and bonding over a common interest. The men aren't there to prey on women. No one is there to get trashed. We are all interested in a healthy kind of fun. You don't have to get drunk, do drugs, or practically prostitute yourself to have a good time. These new dance people get that, which makes me respect them even more. I now leave my purse at the table...with money in it. What does that say? Trust.

These dance people are becoming friends and that's something I never thought would happen a little over a month ago when I still felt like an outsider.

The Crew:

Eight of us, including the profe, spent this last weekend in Santiago together to attend the Bachata Fest. I've come a long way considering a month prior I didn't even want to kill time with them eating completos after class. And now we were traveling out of town together? For the weekend? Wow...I never saw that coming! But it was extremely refreshing. I felt like I was studying abroad again which is not an experience one usually has in their late twenties and beyond. It was wonderful to all be united for a common passion. The positivity, the camaraderie, laughing our butts off, sharing a hostel room, meals, taxis, having fun, and just living like family. It was great. I went from being an outlier in the salsa class, to an outsider in the bachata class, to an insider when I started going to Join Vito on Wednesdays, and now after this past weekend, I'm a part of the nuclear group. I went to class on Monday and all of the inside jokes from this past weekend, I got. I hugged everyone and they hugged me. We know each other now and that's a wonderful feeling.

Tomorrow I'm invited to Maria's birthday celebration at El Cubanisimo. It'll be my 8th time dancing this week, officially more days than there are in the week, and I couldn't be more content with my progress, my level of fitness, and my new friends. I am thankful.


3rd August 2017

First there was...but now?
What a delight to read an a feeling the groove...crunching out of purring like a well oiled machine. Brilliant!!!!

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