Friday, 16 August 2013

Dancing is all Street & Latin to Me - II

This is the sequel to my rant on dancing here.

One of my New Year resolutions for 2013 was to learn to dance. And this time, something more to the tune of salsa. Now, when I sifted through various dance-class flyers & online ads, the image in my head was something like this:-

Sabrina & Louis on Dancing with the Stars
And this:-

I was mortified by the thought of what appeared to be "climbing" on guys, like a vine would on a ladder. What was this? Legalized infidelity!? Fortunately, my horror was quelled when I actually attended a trial class for Ballroom Level-1. And reality looked more like this:-


I heaved a sigh of relief and immediately signed up for the lessons. But I'm guessing the steps are mild only in the first few Levels. "Man-climbing" probably surfaces in Level-10.

Before I begin my discourse on the funny-bits about the classes, I'd like you to appreciate the beauty of Latin dances. The music, oh! It makes you swoon! When the songs play, your mind pauses and turns into mush. The tracks are so lovely, your body starts swaying on its own. You don't even need alcohol to get intoxicated! THAT'S how powerful latin music is! (On a separate note, you might want to read this excerpt from my latest short story and see where the inspiration came from!)

The people who attend these classes are quite intriguing themselves. Most leave their husbands/wives/girlfriends/boyfriends home when they come to shimmy in the night. (And I'm not very proud to say I do the same. But it's not technically or financially feasible to fly-in your significant-other from a politically-sensitive South-Indian city for an hour of dance each week, more so if he balks at the very mention of dancing.) Also, because I'm no better myself, I have no right to wonder why people with partners in the same city (and sometimes, under the same roof) don't bring them along.

Anyway, getting back to the topic of dancing, I won't tell you what Wikipedia will. We'll talk about stuff "they" won't tell you anywhere. When I first started in Jan, the system felt like speed-dating (not that I've been to any speed-dating-events). Random women are paired with random men; they're expected to dance for 2 minutes; and after the buzzer beeps (this'll be the dance-teacher's instruction), the ladies move to the partners to their right. Of course, in a speed-date event, the man gets up from one table and walks over to the next. But then again, this is dancing, and shouldn't be compared with dating (speed or no-speed). Also, here, the motive is not to find Mr./Ms. Right but to find your own self.

In the process of "finding myself", I found many interesting characters in the form of dance-partners. (What will follow is a slight variation of my style of caricaturing, like I've done before.)

  • The John Abraham - Yes, we had a John Abraham! I bet your dance class doesn't have one! :-P So, on my first day, I moved over to this man and he introduced himself, "Hi. John Abraham." (To this day, I can't figure out if that's his real name.) And I replied, "Bipasha Basu Oindrila." Like his namesake, he had a firm grip (again, the comparison is out of place as I've never danced with the real John Abraham) and a gruff voice... AND was quite outspoken when he said at the 2nd class, "I'm glad you came." (and instantly made me regret my decision).

  • The Genius-learns-to-Jive - This one is the nation's pride; the pure, rare & eternal... no, wait! That's platinum! Let's start over - This one is the nation's pride; the heavily accented engineer from Aye.Aye.Tee Bombay! *Whistles & fake round of applause.* He'll always wear IIT-B branded clothes so the girls know who they're dancing with. (*Now, I assume my ready-to-mock, high-pitched excited tone* Of course, of course! All we girls ever want to do in life is ensnare engineers from premier institutes 'cuz we've nothing better to bide our time with.) If only you could remember your steps a little better and remember to show-off a little lesser! You wouldn't be so bad afterall.

  • The Rogue Leader - Remember how the man always leads and the woman follows, in ballroom dances? (Such a patriarchal society this is!) Well, some dancers take this a bit too seriously and try to wield their power on the dance-floor. They always signal for the switch-turn and keep you turning till your head spins. And when you suggest you'd like a New York or Cuban rocks or arm-lock, they vainly say to you, "Hey, I give you the lead. I get to decide." And when you go all class-monitor on him and look to your dance-instructor for help, all you get is, "He's the man. He leads. You must follow." *grrrr*

  • The Pseudo-Follower - Quite a pleasant chap to dance with! Mostly 'cuz he let's you lead (or at least gives you the signal you ask for) and follows your every wish as his command! :-D He even goes on to tell the couples next to you how he'd be nowhere without your leadership skills (aww!! :-) Hey, B-schools, didya hear that!) The only words that leave his mouth are "Yes, m'lady...", "Do your magic...", "There's my girl!" (Oh, wait! Why do all those phrases suddenly sound so wrong? :-o )

  • The True Dance-Divo - (FYI, Divo is Italian for male-diva.) Here's a real man who brings his girlfriend along (I salute thee!). And his only aim is to dance. He remembers his steps (why of course! Unlike the rest of us, he gets to practise with this partner everyday), holds you just right... not too close, not too tight (but then again, going by the pictures at the top of this article, I can't say whether there's any limit to how close you can hold your partner), and dancing with him is a delight! (didn't mean to say that. It's just that delight rhymes with right & tight :-P )
Did I tell you when I joined the class, I joined with the sole intention of learning the Latin art, and did not want to know about people or let them know anything about me? I wanted to dance in oblivion. It was simpler with strangers. Knowing people would only complicate things. Every time someone asked me my name or what I did or where I lived, my forehead furrowed. Why couldn't they just shut up and dance!? But the questions kept coming. And with time, they changed forms - "What are you doing this weekend?"; "They have this _____ concert tonight at IIT. Wanna come?" (aye-aye-tee-guy bides his time by asking engineers out?! :-o ); "busy tomorrow? Sunday, maybe? Or next weekend?" (dude, get the hint!) See why it's easier to dance with strangers? Unfortunately, strangers don't remain strangers for long.

Oh, why the pin-drop silence? You don't read my blog without giggling (just a little bit)! So, I present you double entendre-phrases that can be heard in a latin dance class (N.B.: All this is Latin-dance-jargon and routinely used by any good instructor.):-

  • Man, give her the hair-brush.
  • Girl, don't resist.
  • Flip her hand and place it on your shoulder.
  • You're too stiff. Sway with me.
  • Man, flip the girl and hold the Titanic-position.
  • Girl, don't stand straight; lean on me.
  • Take her into a cuddle.
  • Come a little closer. (No, wait. Nobody says that anymore. They just pull you forward.)
I cannot say goodbye to you without leaving you with a song, now can I? So here's Michael Buble and The Pussycat Dolls' rendition of Sway.

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