So you think you can dance?


Newly discovered deal websites have recently gripped my New York life. Sites such as Groupon, Lifebooker, LivingSocial are all the rage in my endless adventure planning, with my gmail receiving regular daily hits from these tempting treats at unbeatable prices. Treats such as helicopter rides, massages and facials, clothing deals and my not-so-new obsession with dance classes.

As an avid watcher of the BBC’s “Strictly Come Dancing” I have long since vowed to gain some degree of celebrity status so that, one day, I will be invited as a contestant and partake in some intensive one-on-one dance training of all styles. Of course this will come complete with accompanying TV crew and made to measure flamboyant dancing attire. Simply an added bonus. As yet, however, I have not managed to achieve this lingering goal, but I am not one for sitting and watching. Indeed, I have decided that this has to be the city to quench that thirst for the rumba hip action, spicy salsa armography and the elegant rise and fall of the foxtrot. I am adamant that I will master one if not all of these dances, so it seemed that last week lifebooker heard my plea and conveniently offered up a surfeit of dance-y type enticements. 5 salsa classes for $30. Click. Booked. One month free unlimited access to tango, salsa, samba, swing and hip hop for $30. Click. Click. Booked. At this point I paused for thought. I could get carried away after all and I certainly need to consider my Wholefoods budget as some sort of priority. I think for now, what with my new spanish endeavours (que tal? estoy muy bien y tu?), I should probably stop clicking that mouse and start tapping those toes.

Salsa class number 1 went down with a bang. Louise and I arrived at the midtown high rise in good time, signed in and were directed to the 12th floor. A mecca of dance awaited us. Dance classes in every room, sweaty individuals pouring out of Broadway style choreography, belly-dancing, ballroom elegance and of course sizzling salsa. Immediately impressed by the female to male ratio in our session, we were encouraged that at least one of us was not going to have to take the lead and positioned ourselves in good view of our new master. After a terrifying warm up of fast footwork at breakneck speed I think we shared a look of fear and amusement. Of course, we are now fully prepared for this city’s offerings of professional amateurs and so were not at all surprised that we might be out of our depth. However, once the warm up was complete (I was too confused to keep up and had to be thankful that the 37 deg Celsius outside was able to keep my muscles primed), the class was split between the clueless and the able and we soon realised that, for the former, this was going to be an agreeable build up to salsa proficiency. After 30 minutes of non-stop basic step we transitioned ‘smoothly’ to partner work and even included the cross body step and an under arm turn. Salsa prides itself on being a little rough around the edges. The club number where both sweat and mojitos flow freely and hours rush by in a whirl of steamy Latin beats. By the end of the class I believed myself to be shimmying my hips, all the while my arms keeping rhythm with their synchronised swaying. I even convinced myself that an innocent passer-by could absolutely mistake me for a Cuban senorita. I was clearly lost in the music.

Dance class number 2 and we must again prove to our teacher that we have mastered the basic step so that we could proceed to spins and cross bodies. This time we were recording the basics to create muscle memory that would hold us in good stead if we ever felt brave enough to venture to a darkened club scene. I think with a little persuasion we just might muster up some such courage.

With salsa well underway I was next delighted that the UES hospital, in which I work, was offering a free introductory ballroom class. Timely no? I was directed to sign up. Needless to say they didn’t have to ask me twice.

Now, I was to learn the side, together, back, side, together of the rumba, trying to accentuate those hips all the while positioning my arms in a strong, sophisticated hold, typical of the ballroom styles. We even got to practice a little with the music. Being backed by the dulcet tones of a certain Mr Michael Bublé only served as further inspiration. We love you Bublé. Next up and it was the foxtrot. I was picturing a black and white movie, glamorous full dresses reminiscent of old Hollywood chic. I was mesmerised, but not too much that I didn’t learn the slow, slow, fast, fast steps that could afford me the skills to move ‘elegantly’ around the room. I began to grow jealous of the small glittery heels being worn by some of my peers. Looking forlornly down at my canvas plimsolls I was feeling less than dressed for the part. As I repeated the slow, slow, fast, fast again to Buble (this time his version of “Fever“) I whisked myself away, virtually albeit, to an old school studio set. Gene Kelly taking me in a graceful dancer’s hold and leading me across the non-carpeted floor ed by a full-size orchestra. Don’t ever wake me up.

I was in my element and then to add to my inconceivable joy we then proceeded to learn the jive. Oh what fun. I could soon enough imagine myself in a short highly sequined tassled skirt and sparkly heels hopping about this way and that to the upbeat tracks of swing. It was decided. I am hooked. What with my biweekly dance classes in my gym and now with the new found ability to dance here and everywhere in the city I was well positioned to take on the boogie wonderland with both feet in tune. Now for the research for even more ballroom classes not to mention the still-to-complete salsa set and the month free at that other dance school.

Who knows. I think this could be the start of a beautiful partnership between the music and me.


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