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June 7, 2005

Filed under: music»performance»dance

Chips and Salsa

Could there be anything more horrifying than yours truly, earnestly tempting to gyrate his way through a salsa dance class? I submit to you that there is not. The Nerdlet may do her best to tell you that it was endearing, perhaps adorable. But make no mistake--there's a reason this white boy is usually found playing funky music instead of dancing to it.

I had a fun time, much to my surprise. The instructor at the Clarendon Grill was funny and good at disarming the crowd. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, even at their most awkward. The only real problem I had was the same problem that I have with all dance classes: there's a bit of a jump from the basic step (which even the least coordinated caperer can learn) and the more advanced spins and swings. I managed to competently massacre these slightly-better-than-basic moves during the class part of the evening, but when it came time to actually make use of them on the dance floor I drew a complete and utter blank. I'm sure the resulting cognitive chaos bore some resemblance to a thorazine-addled octopus.

Although I am no expert, I will say this right off: for a rock musician, latin-based dance is a very odd beast. The dance takes place on an 8-count, kind of an 8/4 time, I guess. This gives enough time for moves by the male and female in turn. What complicates matters, for me, is that almost everything takes place on the 1-2-3 or the 5-6-7, with a rest on the 4 and the 8. I'm a 1 and 3 kinda guy, myself, although I certainly know the value of a 2 and 4. 1 and 5 as the initial steps in your crazy triplet structure? That's a sure solution for a confused rock bassist, particularly since the actual bass of the songs is much more straightforward. How do you play a rhythm instrument like that when the dancers are marching to a different drummer?

I want to try playing and writing some latin-influenced music, after last night. Let's put it this way: I'm kinda eyeing Salsa across the room, she seems cute enough. But I've been seeing Rock for a while now, and although we've got a pretty open relationship I just don't know if I can adapt to someone new. Besides, Rock's older sister (the Blues) would kill me if she found out.

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