This past Sunday afternoon, I tried to salsa dance.
My gym has lessons on Sundays, so SV and I decided to give it a try. I was coming off a Zumba “I can do anything” high and thought it would be fun. Sure, it was an hour long class and I can only manage fifteen to twenty minutes upright at a stretch, but that’s what benches are for, right?
Turns out, salsa is not for me.
It started out okay, and the basic steps aren’t that difficult for the most part, at least in execution. I can do the basic and side steps. I can even do the little 45 degree half turn. I couldn’t do the pivot, but with practice I could figure it out.
At some point in the future, I could probably get the hang of some light salsa dancing with someone I liked…like my husband. Right now there’s still some physical pain to contend with, mostly in the ankles and knees. While zumba makes it easy to sit down if I need to, salsa lessons felt different. I felt like I had to be engaged at all times…or else*.
Beyond the bodily pain is something stronger…my aversion to physical contact.
I don’t know when I developed this aversion. In college and high school I was all about the hugging. I’d invade anyone’s personal space if they let me. But somewhere between then and now I started getting kind of squicky about people touching me.
Family and friends are fine, as long as they’re close family or friends. There are some people I talk to on a regular basis that I’m not comfortable touching, and when it comes to strangers, unless I’m drunk and in that “I love the world” frame of mind, there’s no way I’m getting close.
Part of the reason I love the thought of salsa is because it’s so lively and intimate, but I can’t get my own psyche to allow me to engage in that intimacy. I’m sure part of that is my size, but I think much of it is just my own aversion to being held or being lead by people I don’t know.** So when I realized that we were going to have to dance with other people, that this wasn’t just a fitness class (which is what I was kind of expecting), my anxiety surged, and I checked out mentally before the physical pain even really set in.
This could change. I know the physical part will get easier the more I workout, and maybe the mental part will too. It would be fun to learn some new dance steps if I could do it with a partner that I was comfortable with. The instructor did mention that salsa is a very social dance and that at the club you can dance with multiple people. I’m not sure that’s for me. Besides the fact I never go to any clubs, that’s a lot of touching.
That’s okay, though. I’m okay with being a person who’s not into physical contact, and I did try the class, even if technically I didn’t “give it my all.” Like Zumba, I might give it a few months and then try again to see if anything’s changed. But if not, I’ll just be happy that I ventured out of my comfort zone to try something new.
*I don’t know what’s included in that “or else.” I’d like to think the instructor wouldn’t boot me out of the class or kick me in the leg, but one never knows.
**Not to mention the fact that I have no concept of how to be “led” when dancing. I know it has something to do with giving up control, but even when dancing while goofing off I’ve never been able to follow.