The Salsa Diaries – Spin Away Stress

The health benefits of salsa are well documented, it lowers your blood pressure, improves flexibility and stamina and is a perfect form of gentle exercise.

For me though, dancing, and salsa in particular, is a release of all the stresses of the day – work, arguments, niggly worries – it all goes away as you concentrate on the music and perform the steps.

Not that tempers can’t flare in salsa – it’s a passionate dance and works best if you have some kind of chemistry with your partner – but that can lead to, shall we say, some minor disagreements.

You also need mutual trust and a basic understanding of how your partner moves because believe me, occasionally, you are going to get whacked in the head and have your feet trampled – but hey, no pain, no gain!

As a woman, it’s my job to follow. As Penny says in Dirty Dancing “remember ladies he’s the boss on the dancefloor, if nowhere else!” but sometimes I get carried away with the fact that I can actually do the steps and just want to keep going.

I pick up steps relatively quickly and as I have always learned by ‘doing’ once I’ve got it down I can generally replicate it and smooth out any rough edges as I go. However, most classes are in a circle so you dance with a variety of partners, and you can’t guarantee that all the leaders will have worked out how to lead you through the routine. After all, it’s far harder to lead than to follow.

And there are some moves you will find more difficult than others. I had endless trouble with ‘flaring’ and quite often lose control of my spins. But I’m starting to get the hang of ‘double turns’ and as with childhood favourite ‘Izzy whizzy’, being spun around really quickly is exhilarating. It’s stopping that’s the problem!

I’ve never come out of a salsa class not smiling though. Tired, sweaty and sometimes aching, but never unhappy – and how fantastic is that?

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