Tuesday, August 10, 2010


In relation to yesterday’s post, let me tell you something that you might find slightly amusing. I have theories of who I was in an immediate past life. Actually, I feel so strongly about this that I have only one. I was an Italian professional dancer, most likely ballet, who lived in Paris and died in car crash. I won’t go into the boring details of how I came about such a conclusion (but if you must know, no, I did not consult any hokey psychic person with crystal balls or tarot cards. The onus is all on me). And not that this plays any role whatsoever in how I live my life either. It’s just fun creating a plausible story of who you were once before this incarnation.

I have not been fortunate enough to have gone through formal dance training in this lifetime, yet dancing is one of the most natural, effortless things for me. What I am fortunate to have is good dancing genes, though. I have not yet met a Tolentino who cannot groove and move. My relationship with dancing is quite reciprocal, I think. I love it. It loves me. A yoga teacher and a jazz dance instructor on separate occasions have mistaken me for a dancer before, it’s pretty funny.

Since coming back from Mexico, I have been thinking about salsa dancing. I could already do it without taking lessons, so I think I can be really good at it if I did get formal instruction. All summer long, I have been dying to check out the growing local salsa scene, so I finally got to go last Thursday with The Friend From Gradeschool (TFFG) and had such a blast. At the party, we all scored free dance classes all month-long. Thank you, Universe! My Monday nights just got electrified. :)

“Strong hands. Relaxed arms.”

This is the frame of Afro-Cuban/Latin dance, typically for the female. The lead (typically the male) is responsible for leading his partner, and all the female needs to do is go where she is led, like meek lamb. If you get over the chauvinism of this metaphor for just a second, you will actually enjoy that idea. I personally like it. A man who wears the pants?! For the five minutes of a Tito Puente masterpiece, let’s pretend he exists, shall we?

I was surprised by the size of the class. There were about fifty or so people in the big ballroom, varying in age, shape, size and gender. The women barely outnumbered the men and it was a bit encouraging that a lot of the guys showed up solo. Hmmm… Is this the dawn of the retrosexual’s return? The instructor taught footwork all night and honestly, the pace was a little slow for me. I have to admit that there were times when I felt madly effervescent that I felt like breaking it down and spinning around and doing twirls. I felt ridiculously giddy. But it was only a beginner’s class, so restraint was in order.

In the last quarter of the class, we were gathered in a circle and the women had to rotate every couple of minutes or so to dance with a different partner. It felt a lot like speed dating actually, minus the awkwardness. My last partner before the class ended was an old man, perhaps in his late sixties or early seventies. He had such a warm smile and you can tell this wasn’t his first time dancing the salsa. He gave me a glimpse of what the gentlemen of a previous generation might have been like. A true retrosexual!

It’s only Tuesday and I’m already looking forward to Monday night. In my mind, I’m already signed up for the intermediate class in September.

And as we go through the humdrum of our lives twirled around our 9-5's, it’s nice to be reminded to have strong hands but relaxed arms. Flow with it. After all, life’s but a dance.

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