Life Lessons from Dancing…

So, I spent the weekend at the DC Bachata Congress. This is my second year attending the entire weekend, and my third year attending at least some portion of the event. I love dancing, and I love dancing with friends.. which this weekend was packed full of.. but, I am always amazed at how much I learn about myself and life in general from dancing.

However, before I get to my life lessons, this weekend my friends and I succeeded in taking more than one picture throughout the weekend…

(haha… There are a few more from my camera, and she has a couple more on her camera as well)
Throughout the whole weekend, we took some amazing classes, learned a whole lot more footwork than anyone could ever actually retain in one weekend; so instead took a ton of videos of the things we learned. And then we spent all of our spare time doing homework, eating, and sleeping. 
So, onto the life lessons I garnered about myself and relationships from dancing.
First, here’s a video, that’s out of focus, but gives you a basic idea of what I’m going to talk about. We are dancing Salsa (on 1)…

This video was from the second hour of the private lesson I had with Darlin Garcia, (who is hands down my favorite instructor/professional dancer). I have a lot of respect for him for so many reasons, partially because he loves and is dedicated to what he does, but also because he loves and is dedicated to his beautiful wife, son, and God, and there is no mistaking any of that… Not to mention he is a fantastic teacher and lots of fun.
Anyway, while he spent a couple hours helping me perfect my approach to salsa, my technique, and footwork (all things I desperately needed), he (probably) unknowingly helped me understand my approach to a lot of things in my life as well. 
The first hour of our lesson was just he and I, and we spent the majority of the time working on the literal basic steps, but not because I did not know them or could not perform them, it was entirely because I was not focused on the basic steps, so subsequently would try and figure out or get to the next step, move, pattern etc.. Which of course throws off the entire dance because he (the lead) is not there yet. Other times I would get so anxious for what was coming next that I would stop paying attention to what was going on now, and as he deemed it “run away” trying to anticipate. In the video you can see me smile or laugh at him each time I almost run away to the next thing before he leads me there… And then at the end of the video the high five was because I made it all the way through without anticipating and actually allowed him to lead me… It is harder than it looks!
I realized in the middle of our lesson that in general my approach to life is foll throttle forward.. and very little of my attention is in taking the time to focus on right now, the current step… Oye.
The night before my lesson, I realized that I always thought I needed or preferred a “strong lead” meaning a clear, distinct, and “good strong” lead, which I associated with forceful… Yet I realized that I was not as much a fan of the forceful leads, and felt like I messed up much more. After spending time learning from Darlin, it solidified my revelation; the “good strong” leads are actually the yes, clear, distinct, but gentle ones, not at all forceful. Because while Darlin is certainly strong enough to easily pull and push me around as we dance if he wanted to, he chooses instead to be clear and direct, yet entirely gentle guidance… Granted because I am still not very good yet, it takes me a little while to learn and pick up what the signals mean, but he remained patient, and kept his sense of humor throughout the entire two hour lesson. 
What I realized throughout my lesson with Darlin, and the weekend as a whole is that, the more forceful a lead was, the more tense I would get in the dance, and then subsequently the more I would mess up and the less fun I would have. When I get tense, I would begin to get nervous and spend the entire time focused on protecting my shoulders from turns that were too forceful or pay more attention to the people around me ensuring I did not bump into them rather than enjoying the dance and the lead he was giving. However, on the opposite spectrum, the guys that lead clearly and directly, but with a much more gentle approach allowed me to relax, trust them, and follow much more easily. I found that with the gentle leads I would I stop paying attention to the people around me and forgot to focus on protecting myself from potential harm and instead just enjoyed the dance.
I find it funny that spending a couple hours with a dance instructor gave me a slighly different perspective on not just guys leading in general, but more specifically what actually makes me more comfortable.. which interestingly enough was not entirely what I thought (only maybe 2/3 correct haha). 
What a painless way to learn something about yourself… If only all life lessons could be taught in a couple hours of salsa dancing 😉

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