I started salsa in Edinburgh in September 2007. I was there until the end of January 2009 before returning to India. It’s been more than a decade since I started dancing, but I have as many memories of those days fresh as a morning flower in my head. Each of them shaped me in such a way that I am who I am today!
Picture: On the way to Calton Hill, Edinburgh on 11/20/2008.
I was very hesitant to ask a lady when I started dancing. I could attribute that to the culture I grew up in, respectful yet shy! Slowly I started asking women on the dance floors week after week and I dance to pretty much every song every day of the week all month in different clubs that play salsa in Edinburgh! Every day would be excessive, but on average it was 4 days a week.
I loved dancing with everyone as everyone was very nice and polite to me when I started and I am grateful to all of them. I had a lot of favorites and thought that I was getting better every week.
When I started dancing, I go to the socials, dance with everyone, and then come home. I was very introverted and made very few friends. A year later, in one year I made as many friends in a foreign country as in 22 years in my own country!
Hundreds of dancers and thousands of dances passed by over the course of a year. I also had really good friends with whom I can talk a lot, and 2 of my dance partners / friends told me over 2 different conversations that they still remember the first dance with me! I was very proud of myself and out of curiosity I asked her how it was! Said “DREADFUL“Although I was one of their favorites up until then.
I had to agree, knowing I was a terrible dancer when I started out. I was curious why every time I asked them they happily agreed to dance with me. Both had the same answer that I had that happy smile while dancing.
I like to dance and I can’t hide it. I also noticed how much it affects the person you dance with. Everyone hits the floor after a long day at work or stress. All they want is to be surrounded by happy people and good music and possibly some good dancing. How good or bad a dance can be ‘technical’, I will never forget to smile because I want to feel happy and I want my partner to feel happy with me while dancing and there was no dance that I felt sad or afterwards felt bad dancing with someone!
I’ve been to over 50 festivals in different countries and danced in many local salsa evenings. The best dances I can remember are the ones with that beautiful happy smile and the best nights are the ones with happy people. Smiling is not a compromise to your learning or your techniques, but it does play an important role in dancing, reminding you again and again why you started dancing in the first place!
At the end of the day, everyone wants to feel comfortable and happy. A small, sincere, happy smile from you could sweeten someone’s day!
The next time you hit the dance floor, along with your pretty clothes and dance floor, wear your smile too!