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That old adage, ‘If you can’t beat them, join them’, is pretty much contrary to what this blog is all about. However, for some things, putting up resistance can be personally damaging, both in the short- and long-term.
You see in Colombia, as is the case throughout Latin America (Chile excepted somewhat), a night out with the locals invariably involves dancing; and normally a lot of it. Not only that, but we’re talking dancing with style and rhythm, the chief types being salsa and valleneto, along with what might be seen as the less stylish yet more erotic champeta.
So this isn’t your skill-less, jumping-around tomfoolery that you typically see in most Western world clubs and pubs. No, there’s a pattern to this and not to know it leaves you at a distinct disadvantage.
Now as a recognised ‘wooden’ northern European there is, thankfully, a little bit of leeway from the ladies on the rare occasions I do, reluctantly as it is, take to the floor. Heck, there are usually even words of praise as I awkwardly shuffle about the place.
The reality, however, is that they are humouring me. That’s very clear when they match up with somebody who actually knows what he’s at; their true joy at not having to move around with a log is disenchantingly (from my perspective that is) palpable. (See video, above, for an example of the ‘prize’ for being able to dance ‘properly’.)
Plus, having been based in Bogotá for over three years at this stage, the tolerance towards my lack of dancing nous is steadily decreasing. This is even more so the case considering I realised early on the advantages – in terms of picking up chicas anyway – of knowing at least the basic salsa steps. I should, so it goes, be able to move much better by now.
The reason why I can’t or, more accurately, don’t isn’t puzzling. In fact, it’s simple: I do not enjoy it. On the contrary, I pretty much detest it.
Yes, as noted, I’ve been ‘forced’ into it over the years, buoyed up with a little Dutch courage. But whenever I have engaged in it, the general feeling is I’d rather be shovelling thick concrete in a hot midday sun (um, in a figurative sense that is).
Before it’s said I’m a complete statue, I do move to music. But the way I ‘feel’ it, Wrong Way style you might say. And as many Colombians have observed, I tend to move more in the shoulders than the hips, which certainly doesn’t complement the Latino style.
What’s more, dancing is not the focus of a night out for me; it’s a distraction if anything. I do it because I feel I must rather than having any real desire. I guess that’s why I generally avoid locations where dancing is an integral part of the place. (OK, this is hard to come by in Colombia, but some social settings, such as most of my preferred tienda bars, are a little lighter on the dancing front than others.)
Thus, as damaging as it may be in some ways, the partial resistance looks set to continue. In any case, I’ve always got my mock Irish dancing to impress the locals. ‘Hup ya boy ya!’
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