Like many of us, I watch Strictly Come Dancing each year and wish I could be spun around the dance floor by one of the male dancers in a flurry of sequins, fake tan and pizazz. From the safety of my sofa I watch, with a huge amount of envy, as the dancers waltz, cha cha, tango, jive and salsa their way to Blackpool and beyond. I’m in awe of them all – even the bad ones – and vow, every year without fail, that I will learn to dance after Christmas.
Well what a better year than to fulfill my promise to myself!
I spotted one of those Wowcher deals for 8 Salsa lessons and thought it was cheap enough not to care if I didn’t like it…so before I could shake my maracas and change my mind, I pressed ‘pay now’ and booked myself in for the first lesson. Now, I don’t think I’ve got two left feet and I don’t think I look like I’m having a heart attack when I shake my booty, but I figured I’d soon find out if I’m any good and have any form of rhythm.
The only downside to the class was the location – it was in the arse end of Wolverhampton and whilst it wasn’t a million miles away, it’s not an area I’m overly familiar with. You can imagine how I felt as I drove down a one way street the wrong way and pulled up outside ‘The Electric Club’ – which looked anything but electric, and definitely more eclectic. Still, I was here now and swallowing my massive nerves, doubt and fear I went in and followed the sound of the Latin music.
The room was full of all ages and roughly about 60/40 couples; some already practising their steps on the small dance floor. I stood near the door and for a teeny tiny second, thought about turning around and going home. I can’t do this; I’m on my own and I’m going to look a fool. Instead, I pulled up my big girl, get a grip, you’re nearly 50 year old pants and gave my name to the girl at the desk. I hovered at the back of the room waiting for the lesson to start and soon the music was turned up and we did a group warm up – a few steps forward, a few steps back, clap, clap, turn around and repeat. Finally I started to relax.
We then got split into two groups – the absolute beginners and the not so absolute beginners. I hurriedly joined the first and along with about another 25 men, women, young and old we lined up in rows and tried to hear the teacher’s instructions. The only problem she was only 4ft 10 and could hardly be seen or heard, so following her was not going to be easy. Naturally I followed the man in front who could see…only to find he had got two left feet and absolutely no rhythm whatsoever.
But more by luck than judgement, I picked up on the steps, which in all fairness weren’t overly difficult, and once I remembered my left from right, I was in the flow and even started moving my arms a little as well. I felt my shoulders droop, the worry and fear fade away and I started to enjoy myself – whilst still muttering Left,2,3,4 under my breath.
And then it got complicated. We had to dance with someone! What? Why? How?! And the women now lead on the right foot?! No,no,no. I’ve just mastered starting on my left and counting, I can’t possibly change feet. We all stood in a huge circle and as I faced an equally nervous looking male, I found myself apologising in advance for any stepping on toes that could well happen. But it didn’t and I danced, in hold, around and around the circle for the rest of the class.
An hour later, I was hot, glowing and smiling. Really, really smiling. I bloody love Salsa!
I cannot recommend trying this highly enough – yes I was scared and yes, I was worried I’d look a complete fool. But I didn’t. I did, however, look like a woman enjoying herself….
Watch out Tess and Claudia….there’s a new Strictly star in the making!
To read more of 50 Ways to Leave Your 40s, click here.