I’ve never… learned how to dance.

“If you never have you should.
These things are fun and fun is good.”
— Dr. Seuss

Dancing was a big part of my University days at Wilfird Laurier in Waterloo. Few weekends went by that I wouldn’t be cutting a rug at the Rev, Turret, Phils or Loose Change Louies (which recently burned to the ground). I was even almost kicked out of the Silver Spur, the local karaoke bar (now also gone), for dancing too wildly…

“You’re up here,” the bouncer told me after pulling me off the dance floor, raising his hand above his head. “I need you down here,” he said, lowering his hand to chest level. I toned it down a bit after that.

The secret to my dance abilities have always relied on two simple steps.

Step 1: Drink
Step 2: Flail arms and legs wildly on the dance floor
(repeat Step 1 until Step 2 looks awesome in your head)

Here’s a photo of me and some friends effectively employing this two-step technique at a recent wedding (except for Dave… he’s eating a cracker)

Despite that sure-fire approach, I decided recently to take real dance classes to improve upon my method. After my friends Aikta and Punia flat out refused to join me as my dance partner (they’ve been out dancing with me too often before and knew better), I eventually roped my friend Lindsay into signing up with me. Before I knew it we were registered in a nine week salsa for beginners class. I chose salsa for two reasons:

#1 – it’s sexy
#2 – the studio was a two-minute walk from my house and I’m lazy

In my head, this was the result I was anticipating:

In reality, the results were more like this:

It didn’t take long for me to realize that walking while swinging my arms is probably the most hand-foot coordination I can manage. If I really focused on my footwork I could get the steps right. But focusing on the footwork meant forgetting to spin Lindsay with my hands, making for an awkward move.

If I switched it up and focused on my turns I could manage to get Lindsay spun around okay, but with my feet rooted firmly on the floor. Very often it was one or the other.

In those rare few instances when I’d perform a move properly, somehow willing my hands and feet to cooperate, I’d be so thrilled with myself that’d I’d forget to keep dancing.

The worst was when the drop-dead gorgeous instructor would walk around the room to see how we were getting along; the second her eyes moved to our direction I would freeze or stomp on Lindsay’s toes.

By the end of the nine weeks I was still more Elaine than So You Think You Can Dance. But I like to think I had picked up a few mad skills for my next trip to the dance floor.

The lessons I took were offered at Toronto Dance Salsa. If it can teach someone like me to get the hang of salsa dancing, it can teach anyone. There are different classes offered throughout the week at different locations in Toronto. It’s $126 per student for nine, one-hour group classes (which I think is pretty reasonable) and private classes are available too. You can sign up as a couple like Lindsay and I did or as a single.

Since I didn’t have the liquid courage I usually have when dancing at bars, I was worried about feeling really self-conscious, but the classes are big, everybody is relatively at the same level and they keep the atmosphere very light and playful. Highly recommend it. Check out http://www.torontodancesalsa.ca/ for more info.

Learn how to dance? Check.

Duane Elgin, author of “Voluntary Simplicity”, talked about the “invisible wealth of experiential riches.” My “I’ve Never Club” is inspired by this idea and chronicles my reflections on the novel things I’ve done recently.


Funny stories. Good advice. Josh Martin is author of the book “Simple(ton) Living: Lessons in balance from life’s absurd moments.”  Click here to purchase your copy

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4 Responses to I’ve never… learned how to dance.

  1. Sharon says:

    Hi Josh!

    Someone sent me your post to read and I really enjoyed it. I own Toronto Dance Salsa so it is always a pleasure to hear students enjoying the classes. Hope you put level 1 to good use and go salsa dancing in the future!


  2. ed says:

    I miss the Silver Spur more than I can describe. My record was to go there 13 days in a row, between work and partying, singing every night. *sigh*

    I’m glad you’re a salsa master now. Work those hips!

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