This time last year, I had written what I thought was a really cringey blog post on my first year of salsa dancing (for my sins, you can read it here). I published it, didn’t broadcast it too much and thought I’d got away scot-free without any of my dance friends seeing it. Except I didn’t escape quite that easily. It seems that listing your blog publicly on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and it being one of the top hits on Google when people search my name isn’t as stealthy as I imagined… who knew?
Anyway, they saw it and the world didn’t end. In fact, most thought it was a pretty decent way to sum up salsa from a beginner’s perspective and the sort of thing that a newbie would benefit from reading. One of my friends even suggested that I revisit this very blog post as I approached the two year mark, to see if my perspective had changed, and whilst at the time I thought I might repeat myself, I’ve reconsidered and decided to continue my ode to salsa. Another year on and I’m just as addicted as ever – maybe even more. But rather than being a fun hobby that brought me out of my shell and introduced me to new friends, this year salsa had something else in store for me.
Without getting into specifics, the best way to set the scene is to say that my private life became about as disastrous as the rest of 2016. It started off with something fairly small in the grand scheme of things, when I simply needed some light-hearted fun to fill an evening – at this point, a new class and a very welcoming bunch proved to be the perfect fit. But a few months down the line, when something bigger came along, I realised just how much I appreciated the gift that was my salsa world.
From disaster day one, I had fantastic dance friends at the end of the phone just waiting to cheer me up with an ice lolly at the bottom of their garden on a summer’s night, or simply a well-timed pep talk and a giggle. But salsa itself deserves a lot of credit for keeping me in the best of spirits. The past six months have brought with them moments of sadness, upset, stress, anxiety and just the general feeling of being out of sorts. But every single one of those feelings were left at the door at salsa. Suddenly the music was playing, a circle of couples was formed, and my thoughts were lost to basic steps, spins, where my arms should be, where my legs should be, and absolutely murdering the Spanish language with my unique attempts to sing along. Whether it was a one-hour class or a full night’s dancing, the spirit of salsa took over and I was free.
Some people get their relief from running, cooking, playing an instrument, knitting, whatever takes their fancy. Perhaps it is the distraction of actively doing something, perhaps it is the comfort of a tried and tested method, or perhaps it is simply the release from doing something that you love. But salsa has proved the best medicine of my year, and I couldn’t be more grateful.