Duo dances at the Rio

Feb 102011

Just because you own bowling shoes does not make you a bowler. Just because you like to eat pie does not make you a baker or a pie connoisseur. And just because you took dance lessons for 10 years doesn’t make you a dancer.

The latter I learned on Tuesday night in the Agave Room above the Rio, when I, Kate Bennis, and my co-columnist Nic Turiciano decided to go salsa dancing, as neither of us has ever tried it.

As a small child I immersed myself in classical ballet, jazz and tap lessons because at 6 years old, it was pretty obvious I was going to be a jazz-dancing-ballerina-with-taps-on-my-pointe-shoes when I grew up. And 6 year olds are pretty unstoppable.

But somewhere along the line, when puberty sets in and bad posture sets up camp (for the rest of your life, if you are especially awkward), there comes a time when dreams need to be re-evaluated.

In the Agave Room, though, a fire was lit once again under these dreams. At 7:30 p.m. we joined the formation of local salsa-dancing hopefuls in one of two lines, ready to begin our very first salsa lesson led by a member of the Fort Collins Rhythm Room.

We began with a very basic back-and-forth step, which was pretty manageable. Next we tried our new move on the opposite side, beginning with stepping our right foot out in front of us: still doing okay at this point.

To my right, Nic was looking like a natural. Remembering that Nic is a drummer and counting is something he is very good at, I couldn’t help but feel slightly jealous. Rather than wallowing, I sought his help. 

“Nic, I don’t know what to do with my hands…” Though I was still keeping up, I realized that my arms had retreated towards my ribs, giving me the impression of a T-Rex. I followed Nic’s lead as he continued to dance as if he had privately been attending salsa night for years.

Slightly more complicated was the side-step, which was the same movement to the left and right.

The instructor put on some music and showed us a few spins, and with a little practice, we all incorporated them into our routines quite well.

The great thing about salsa dancing, I was learning, is that the movements flow so well together that they appear effortless and always on time.

Finally, it was time to partner up and try everything we’d just learned. I think we both knew this was going to be the most difficult compromise for the both of us. 

“I’m leading,” Nic said, as the trumpets of the live band warmed up behind us.

“No way, I’m first. Maybe I’ll let you lead after the first few songs –– maybe.”

And so it became a battle in pursuit of where the direction of our choreography was going. Nic spun around before I could realize that I was following his step. In retaliation I counted more quickly in order to confuse my dance partner –– who was now my opponent –– as I raised my hand to spin him around.

Each attempt caused our dancing to speed up, until finally we managed to find a medium where we alternated not between counts, but rather between songs, so as to gain an understanding of what we were actually doing. This enabled us to freestyle a few dance moves, spinning around the floor like whirling dervishes that got lost inside of a house party.

While I may never find a place for my budding dance passion in my daily life –– and the thought “college: out, salsa dancing: in” definitely played a prominent role in my thoughts throughout the evening –– there are a few life lessons that I will be taking away from this experience. When in doubt, fake it, and when faced with a pertinent conflict do not rule out the possibility of a dance-off. Olé!
Columnists Kate Bennis and Nic Turiciano can be reached at verve@collegian.com._

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