Sitting in front of Manly Beach last weekend. I was enjoying a coffee with a friend. Gabriela.
Gabi is from Peru. She’s been dancing all her life. It’s part of her culture. It’s part of her. So I was really moved to hear that something I said to her in a Salsa class years ago provoked the response…

“It changed my life”.

What on Earth could I have said that may have even slightly changed her life? Well, Gabi used to go out to social dance parties where a host of reasons would mean she didn’t get a bunch of fun dances.

1. People become friends and only dance with their dance friends. So please try your best to avoid this too. Always ask people from outside your social circle and from all different levels of experience both below and above yours!

2. Sometimes there are more women than men. Unfortunately, this is a symptom of our Australian culture where men don’t think dancing is for them. Ladies, you have the power to change this. Keep inviting them to lessons. Keep giving men compliments of encouragement when learning. And let go of any unconscious negative talk about men who dance (I have been called twinkle toes by so many women and other discouraging language and comments). So help us create a comfortable culture for men to be social beyond getting drunk at bars and night clubs. All men need this.

3. Because women have grown up with the wall flower mentality. Ladies you are not a flower on the wall. You’re a force to be reckoned with and you can get whatever you want. Unless the guy is clearly sweaty and needs a break. Leave those sweaty guys alone until they dry off. Guys, please. Take a break sometime and cool off man. Haha.

So once she broke free of the mentality of waiting. Gabi started to ask men to dance. And it made every night of dancing fun. Now Gabi enjoys the freedom to act, to choose and avoid just standing around, waiting. It may not sound like much but imagine getting ready, shoes, dress, travel, being excited, then waiting on the side of the dance floor all night. Maybe getting a few good dances but mostly waiting. What a let down.

So years back… what was my message?

“Ladies it’s not the 1950s anymore. You’re not wall flowers waiting to be picked. Women ask men to dance these days. And you know what. We men love it too because we can be nervous as hell to ask sometimes”.

Unfortunately, a lot of ladies still wait to be asked. This was an obvious and painful thing to watch years ago. So as soon as I got the opportunity to preach as a Salsa teacher. Halleluiah! Even just a few dancers at a time can make all the difference. Making it a happier, healthier dynamic for both women and men.

So to hear that my message changed Gabi’s life blew me away because I know she wasn’t joking. Coming from South America where dancing is an essential part of life. Her being able to go out and not stand there waiting for a dance… and her being able to get exactly what she wants! The power of choice. And remember the golden rule on the dance floor. You have to say YES if someone asks you. Unless they’re real sweaty.

Phew! That’s Hot Salsa Culture right there man!

Thanks for reading!
Much Love,
Rich Lees
Dance Salsa Manly