How salsa can help you learn other dances

I found that salsa dancing is a language of its own. Just like you have English as your first language, you can have salsa dancing as your “first dance” language.   

My first official dance lesson was salsa, and after years of classes I became a seasoned dancer.  Any new dance that I learn is translated into salsa or another similar Latin dance – from ballroom to country line dancing.  Country what?

Yes. Its true. Last Friday I went to Prospectors in Mt. Laurel, NJ to try something new – Country Line Dancing. I don’t like country music, but the dance just intrigued me.  It was the thrill and the challenge of learning something new that drew me there.  I met up with my friend Emily Proulx and her mom.  They were both extremely helpful in getting me through the steps and patterns.

I felt like I was a salsa baby all over again. I swallowed my fears and stepped out onto the country line dance floor for the first time.  If you’ve never been to one, imagine something like an oval track with an infield.   There were dancers in the middle doing their line dance and around them on the “track” or line of dance, there were people doing partner work.     Its funny how they have a Spanish name for a country line dance pattern!   We started with something called the “El Paso”. 

The “El Paso”  incorporated moves from a cha-cha and salsa.  The guy and gal start off side by side in almost a “shadow” position with the guy slightly to the left behind the gal holding the girl’s left hand with his left hand and the right hand with his right hand at shoulder height.  There were 4 cha-cha’s forward starting on the right foot, a forward break with the right foot, a foward break with the left foot. Then a half turn to the right, another cha-cha, a quarter turn to the left to let the girl do a little sway from left to right and then another quarter turn to the left to start all over again.   It was line dancing with a partner!

There were other patterns I learned like the “Shadow” and some with a silly name like the “Push toosh”  But most of the patterns primarily used cha-cha steps, grapevines, potiborays, kick-ball-change steps, and some heel and toe taps.  It was challenging to remember the patterns just by watching everyone’s feet, but Emily and her mom called out the steps and my brain and body started to get it!   

I think I had a hard time trying to figure out the steps on my own because most of my dance life I’ve learned by watching AND hearing the instructor call out the moves. My brain hasn’t had the practice of figuring out the steps without the hearing the name of the step.    

Even though I was not that great, I still had a blast!  I may even go try it again next week!

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