DANCING IN HAVANA
Cuba. It’s the home of salsa. Anyone who loves salsa, more so Cuban salsa aka ‘circle salsa’ would love here. I have dreamt of coming here for many years. The allure of the classic cars and crumbling buildings was the main attraction for many years, that is until I took up salsa.
I'm told the dance scene has changed a lot in the last few years. Cubans are getting used to foreigners now, but before, it was a novelty. Any foreigner would be asked to dance, song after song. I find though, that they want to dance with people who can dance well (or a person they find attractive :)) The better you dance, the more dances you are asked for.
But even if I am not asked to dance, I love watching. In fact, sometimes I find myself in quite the dream-like state watching people. Growing up dancing, they know their stuff. They glide, they are smooth, they have the fancy moves, they are sexy - they are intoxicating.
If you are a newbie to dance, don’t despair. There are ways of still getting a dance. You can hire a dancer to go with you. You could do some classes then try your luck. Or you can go with a group and have a blast. With or without the Cubans. This is what we do.
We came to have fun, and we do. And we gain friends along the way. Cubans love fun and gravitate towards it. Do not take yourself too seriously while here. They (well, some) can be blunt, but they don’t mean it rudely.
Just like they don’t think they are rude by staring and ‘wolf whistling’ in their different ways when every woman walks past them. One day I watch a man nearly walk into building columns because he is too busy gawking at the woman he just walked past. The woman - dressed in active wear, with a very large booty, keeps walking, head held high while he gawks in despair. I giggled. The outward expression of interest is something I am not used to seeing. It's not about the hourglass woman with bigger than average breasts here, it is all about the curves and bum.
Anyway, back to the dancing. Some rules… Not just for in Cuba either.
Don’t get tense. You will be told this a lot. ‘Just relax’. Don't worry about not knowing what you are doing, or getting anxious because your dance partner is much better. Yep, easier said than done sometimes.
Second rule… let the guy lead. Don’t try to guess what he is going to do, just let it flow.
Three…. stay by the dance floor if you want to be asked to dance. That way, the people interested in dancing more can grab you when they finish a song.
Four… normally it is the guy that asks for the dance. In Australia, this isn’t always the case, but it is here. Guys may be shocked if you ask, it’s not a social faux pa, just be warned.
Salsa is the main dance of Cuba. Solo or with a partner, everyone can dance. We dance salsa suelta (solo) at many concerts while appreciating the performer in front of us. Sometimes it’s directed from the performers on stage, sometimes it’s followed from someone in your ‘line’ of dance. And sometimes, you just dance to your own style.
Now, go out there and dance. Don’t worry about the sweat (from anyone and everyone). It will be there, in abundance.