The following was written by Laurent Duperval one of our awesome Salsa students

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”

—Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche

I was petrified.

If you had been there you would have had difficulty distinguishing me from the wall.

I admit it was my fault. I thought it was from 8 to 11 PM but it was from 7 to 10 PM. I showed up at nine.

Everyone seemed to know each other and they were all way out of my league.

Finally, after 30 minutes, I mustered enough courage to ask someone to dance. To my surprise—and relief—she said “yes” with a smile.

I was probably terrible.

After another 20 minutes of hesitation, I gathered enough courage to ask someone else to dance. She said yes. I was still terrible.

Then it was over.

That, in a nutshell, was my first experience at a Baila Productions dance.

Almost two years later, I have managed to become more comfortable on the dance floor. Yet, every time I go to a new club, I feel like the very first time I went to a Baila dance. Truth be told, I sometimes don’t go to a club unless people I know will be there already. My confidence in asking strangers to dance isn’t all that it could be.

I still keep this experience close to my heart every time I go to a dance and it guides my behavior. In fact, like Asimov’s robot, I live by three rules.

Rule number 1: I always dance with at least one new person at every dance. I make a special effort to identify women that I’ve never seen before, especially the ones that seem unsure of themselves. I believe they are the people that are most important to please. When you come to such an event, if you don’t have fun the first time, you probably will not come back. I want these activities to continue because they are very important to me, so I make sure that I help these guests to have a good time. That way, they will come back and bring some friends with them.

Rule number 2: I don’t dance more than two songs in a row with the same person. I go to dances to experience diversity and to adapt to the dancing style of many different people. I don’t want to get so used to dancing with one person that she’s the only one with whom I can enjoy myself. I believe that this is a good thing for my dance partner too. So I will not keep her to myself all night long (cue Lionel). Others deserve to enjoy her company too; therefore I switch partners often. After attending dances on a regular basis, I have developed intimacy and comfort with certain people. Sometimes respecting this rule is a challenge.

Rule number 3: I will say “yes” to anyone who asks me to dance, as long as it doesn’t break the first two rules rule. Everyone at the dances is there to have a good time. Saying no, especially to someone who has gathered all her courage to ask, can be devastating. As long as I haven’t asked someone else to dance already, I consider that I’m fair game. In fact, on more than one occasion I have crossed the dance floor to ask someone to dance, only to be intercepted along the way. If my would-be partner has not noticed, then I dance with the person who asked me. If my would-be partner has seen me, I tell the person who just asked that I will dance with her after the next song. And I keep my promise.

Beyond the fun factor, dancing has been an important part of my life for other reasons which I may address in a different article in the future.

One of my great regrets is that it took me 50 years to realize how much I needed dancing in my life. Now that I know, it’s hard to let go.

I’m writing this during the Great Pandemic Scare of 2020 and let me tell you that I am chomping at the bit. If I don’t get back on the dance floor soon, I shall go mad, mad I tell you!

If you cross my path next to a dance floor, especially if you’ve never met me before, ask me to dance. The worst that can happen is that you too will get bitten by the salsa bug.

Laurent Duperval